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Blog: My Little Farm in Town

It's a Scorcher! Chickens and Hot Weather

Monday, May 24, 2010

We went from days in the mid-70°s F and nights in the high 50°s F to 90° F days and mid-70 ° F nights with high humidity. I am watching Lucy closely for signs of heat stress. It hasn’t been that long since she recovered from her cold, and she is still weaker than the others.

 Lucy is the cover girl for heat stress. I notice beaks open on several of the girls, but Lucy is panting and holding out her wings trying to cool herself. I don’t like the look of her, so I decide to give her a break by bringing her just inside the garage for a snack. The garage feels air conditioned, insulated by the house above and cool cement slab below. I leave the door open behind her and let her eat some scratch from a colorful Frisbee toy turned over and used as a plate. After a while her breathing settles down, and I take her back out to the yard.  

 I noticed last night that the girls didn’t all roost on one pole as usual. It was three up on the top perch and two down on the bottom one.  I have installed the clip fan in the house and directed the flow of air downward toward the waterer. It is noticeably cooler there with the air blowing across the water in the font.  I don’t like to create drafts on the hens when they are roosting, but this will circulate the air near them at floor level.  I will also direct air toward the nesting boxes. The fan isn’t strong enough to create a strong draft but is enough to move the air a bit and provide some relief.

The gals prefer to congregate in the yard. The yard is open to the south, but there is always some shade that they can retire to during the day. I keep a second font of cool water in the yard so it is always easy for them to drink without moving around too much. I also note that they have been digging holes in the dirt of the yard, creating cool hollows to lie in. Clever Girls!  I empty the outdoor font in the yard when I renew the cool water so there is always a cool place for them to dig.  

They always have access to the coop if they wish. I keep all the windows and vents open in weather like this, closing the windows only late at night when the temps drop. The peak vents are always open once the weather warms.  There are eave vents along the entire north and south sides of the coop, peak vents to east and west, and windows that open (hinged from the top) to the south and east.  If there is breath of air passing through, this coop will welcome it. The time and effort we put into researching, planning, and building the hen house pays off in the extremes of heat and cold we experience here in the temperate zone (although there doesn’t seem to be anything temperate about this weather)! Stay Cool. Begonia


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Lucy Overheated


Classic overheated bird--panting with wings held away from body. I don't worry about panting but don't like to see the wings spread.

Extra Source of Water in the Yard


I renew this water periodically on very hot days. Chickens drink more when the water is cold. I also pour the water onto the yard in shady spots to create cool ground for them to scratch up.

Chicken-made Wallow


The girls dug this hole to sit in. It is in the shadiest corner of the yard.

Vents and Fan


Air movement through the coop is so important! The eave vents are all open in this picture and the fan is moving air around a hen in one of the nesting boxes.

The Coop with All Windows Wide


All the windows are open to admit air--even though it is still hot. I will close the windows later in the night for added security even though the stout screening over the window openings is built into the framing of the coop. Coons are amazingly strong and determined.


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Wisconsin USA
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