Keeping the Chickens Cool

Monday, June 20, 2011
One of my readers who raises chickens and also lives in the metro Phoenix area, asked if I could write up a blog post about my chicken coop set up and how we keep our chickens cool. We are well into the triple digit temps here and will be until October or November so the timing of this post is perfect. This is only our second summer with chickens but I have learned a lot about keeping chickens comfortable in the summer heat. You might remember reading that we lost dear Ramona last summer so we're taking even more precautions this time around.

We have three areas of focus in keeping our girls cool: plenty of shade, ventilation, and fresh water at all times. Our coop is set up under three giant shade trees so the coop is never in direct sunlight at any time of the day. Although the chickens free range, their "chicken yard" also has plenty of shade should they choose to hang out there.  If you are thinking of keeping chickens yourself and live in a hot climate, it's a good idea to ensure that the coop area will be well shaded during the warmer months.

Our coop was made out of a shed. When we built it, we left off one side and put up chicken wire (as you can see from the first picture). We also built a screen door out of chicken wire as well so that the coop has plenty of ventilation. Even with the ventilation, it still gets crazy hot and stuffy in there during the summer so my husband ran electrical and installed a fan in the coop. It's set on a timer and will run from about 11am to 3am. This should really get the air moving and keep the girls comfortable when they're laying during the day or coming in to roost at night.

We also make sure that girls have plenty of fresh, cool water at all times. We have three sources available to them - in the coop, in the chicken yard, and on the back porch where they like to hang out (and stare at us through the sliding glass doors - which is totally odd). I was told that when it's hot, chickens won't walk through direct, bright sunlight to get to their water source so it's important to have a few sources available to them.

One of the best chicken investments we ever made was this 8 or so dollars portable mister from the local hardware store. It hooks right up to the hose in the chicken yard next to the coop. Whenever it's 100+ degrees, we turn the mister on in the morning and shut it off at night when they go in to roost. The second I turn it on every morning, the girls run over and sit under it. They spend the majority of their day there. If you live in a hot climate, I highly recommend getting one of these suckers.

A recent email that I received from the Valley Permaculture Alliance suggested setting out shallow dishes (terra cotta pot saucers work great) and filling them with a couple of inches of water for the chickens to stand in on those insanely hot days. I definitely plan to give this a try. If you have any tips or tricks that you all use to keep your chickens cool, please share them with me.  I'm not a big fan of fried chicken and want to keep the girls as comfortable as possible this summer.

ETA 7/18/11: Since I wrote this post I have discovered a couple of other ways to keep the girls cool that are very helpful. We have been trying the frozen water bottle in a plant saucer trick that I mentioned above and it's been great. Occasionally the girls will stand in the water but more often than not, they drink from it and the water is always fresh and cold for them. They love it.

Another thing we've done is to make veggie pops. We have an abundance of veggies in our garden and always have a bit extra to share with the girls. We chop them up (usually cucumbers) and put them in a large tupperware container and then add water. We freeze these overnight and put one out for the girls during the hottest part of the day. They will spend a good chunk of time pecking at the ice block to get the veggies out.


sara said...

Those girls are set! I want a mister to sit under all day...

I keep forgetting, I read this review of a book about keeping chickens that's supposed to be the best book ever. I keep meaning to send you the title. Maybe now that I've written down I'll remember :)

A Daughter of the King said...

Great ideas. We live in Tucson. This will be our first summer with our 4 hens. I hose out a part of their run at night; I noticed that the next day the moist ground is "cool" when they scratch a little hole. We used to keep our rabbits cool with a gallon milk jug frozen into a block of ice during the heat of the day. I might try that too. With a fan on it, it is just like a swamp cooler.

Grace said...

I love the idea of turning the milk jug into a home made swamp cooler. That is brilliant! It would be perfect aimed towards the front door of their coop. Thanks for sharing.

Rebecca Maurier said...

Thanks for sharing.. Chicken coops 2 U offers quality chicken coops, chicken coop accessories and chicken runs direct to your door at affordable prices.

Post a Comment