We've got a scary Heat Wave starting today in California. Other states around us are going to be affected too. This could last for 7-10 days, break and then start anew!
For those of you who have chickens but haven't yet had to put a plan into place for protecting your ladies from extreme heat: NOW is the time. The key elements for helping your chickens beat the heat are water, shade, and ventilation. Here are some tips:
Evaporative Cooling: If you have good soil drainage and moving air, you can spray down the ground with water early in the day. As the heat of the day increases it will pull some of the heat with the evaporating water, keeping the chicken area a bit cooler. Using misters can also be helpful. Most are a bit more expensive to install and run but you can find misters that are simply an extension of your hose like this tiny Orbit Sidewinder for less than $10.
Freeze Treats: Frozen watermelon seems to be the favorite but other melons, berries, and veggies can work just as well. You could even mash or purée your mixed kitchen or garden scraps, put them in a metal bowl or ice cube trays and freeze it for a chicken slushee!
Extra Waterers: Leave out more water, and even extra water containers as the chickens will be drinking more often and shouldn't have to stand around a crowded watered waiting a turn. You might even consider installing an automatic chicken waterer to make sure that there's no way they run out of water.
Air Movement: Do you have a portable fan you're not using while you're out for the day? Run it out near the coop on an extension cord to keep the air circulating. This works especially well if it blows over something cold like a bucket of ice.
More Shade: If you have potted plants, patio furniture or other large objects in the yard, moving them closer to the coop in the short term will help to cast more shade. Alternatively, shade cloth draped over the run can help create a larger shaded space.
Don't forget to share this with your friends to remind them to protect their hens! And leave a comment if you would like to share some of the tricks you use to keep your ladies cool during the heat.