Seed Swaps

Chicken Keeping in the Heat

20 Jun 2012
Sunny 35°C / 95°F

So, I was up at 5:30 making elderflower syrup, but also thinking about how to keep the chickens cool.

Last night I went into town picked up some electrolyte/vitamin mix to add to their waterers, as they were starting to pant in yesterday’s heat. I also made giant ice cubes in yogourt containers so that I could try to keep the water cool for them.

Up until yesterday, the shade provided by the pasture shelter has been enough to keep them cool, but today I was worried it wouldn’t be enough, so I decided to let them out to free range in the late morning. (I figured the risk from daytime predators was less than the risk of overheating.) What I thought would be a fairly simple operation wound up taking about three hours:

Even when I took half their fence down, they had no interest in walking over to the apple tree (maybe 75 or 100 feet away) and in the end I wound up carrying them one by one after fishing them out of the corners of the shelter. Then, after all that, they rejected my apple tree idea and insisted that the eight feet of shade from the house (which was about to disappear) was more to their liking. In the end I left their feeder under the tree with one waterer and the other in the shade of the house. They also got some frozen raspberries as treats.

By late afternoon they figured out that the apple tree was the place to be and wandered around the back yard as well. As they moved around in groups I thought they bore quite the resemblance to cliques of teenagers walking around the mall.

Then of course, it was time to reverse the process. Some of the birds were happy to follow a bit of scratch (which I wasn’t keen on giving, as corn helps chickens warm themselves… not something they really need tonight!) but I wound up having to herd, and then catch & carry three of them. In the end getting them back in their house and the fence back took another two hours.

I’m thinking that tomorrow I might try wet blankets on the roof of the structure and an extra beach umbrella for shade. I’m not convinced that where they sat through the heat was any cooler than what the inside of the shelter provides. I’ve also made a batch of yogourt that I think I will put in the ice cream maker in the morning – they can have frozen yogourt in the afternoon. Tomorrow is also harvest day for CSA baskets, so it will be another early morning (good for the chickens as they can forage in the cool 26 feels like 32 degree morning).


  1. “Oh, I like being able to get my favourite food pieces from the top of the feeder.” (Normally their feeder hangs from a collar tie in the pasture shelter, so they can’t reach the top.)
  2. “Hey, over here, I saved you a seat!”
  3. Under the apple tree.
  4. At the side of the house. (Pasture shelter in background.)




That’s a lot of work! I loved the image of the teenagers in the mall :)

Posted on 21 Jun 12 (almost 4 years ago)

They certainly keep you busy. They have such a good care giver. I’m sure they’re very happy cluckers.

Posted on 21 Jun 12 (almost 4 years ago)

It did seem to drag on forever. It’s a challenge as I have next to no shade near the house (I think the previous owner went a little tree removal crazy after the ice storm). Ideally they’d be somewhere with more natural shade, but that would mean they’d be much further from the house and I think predators would be more likely to get them (not to mention my electric fence charger would have to be solar powered and as a result more expensive, and it would me more of a hassle to feed/water them.)

Yesterday I tarped the top of the brooder pen I made them, so they have another shady area in their yard. I also tried to moisten their dustbath and provided an old litter pan as a wading pool for them (though only one seemed to understand putting their feet in to cool off, perhaps the others will catch on.) They seemed to do quite well, they were definitely hot, but so wasn’t everyone!

Posted on 22 Jun 12 (almost 4 years ago)

I hope your chickens appreciate you! Frozen raspberries and yoghurt to eat – in addition to being “chauffeured” back and forth to shade and shelter. I agree with Hollybee that your description of them meandering about like teenagers in a mall was hilarious. Here’s wishing you a bit less heat.

Posted on 24 Jun 12 (almost 4 years ago)

@LouiseM Thankfully we’ve had more moderate temperatures this weekend and it looks like there will be a few days in the 20s before the next wave of heat and humidity strike. I’m pleased that the chickens made it through and I think I’ve got the knack of the high temperature routine for them now.

Hopefully the raspberries will make for some tasty eggs in a few months! Next time I think I will try blueberries instead of raspberries though: at one point I came back and found them with red stuff on their beaks and for a minute I freaked out thinking that they had suddenly developed cannibalism issues before realizing that it was just bits of raspberry stuck on there!

Posted on 25 Jun 12 (almost 4 years ago)

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