Summer can be a challenging time for your chickens. The heat, increased pest activity, and changes in daylight hours can all affect the health and productivity of your flock. As a chicken keeper, you need to be proactive in managing these changes to ensure your chickens stay happy, healthy, and productive. Here are seven tips to help your chickens thrive during the summer season.
1. Provide Plenty of Clean, Cool Water
Hydration is critical for chickens in the summer. Chickens need constant access to fresh, clean water to stay cool and maintain their health.
Tip: You might consider adding ice cubes to the water to keep it cool throughout the day. Some chicken keepers even freeze a larger container of water overnight and place it in the coop during the day to provide a cool drinking source.
2. Create Shade and Ventilation
Chickens don't sweat, so they rely on shade and ventilation to stay cool.
Tip: Create extra shade in the run by adding a tarp or shade cloth. Ensure the coop is well-ventilated, with windows or vents on all sides to allow for cross-ventilation.
3. Provide Dust Bath Areas
Chickens naturally take dust baths to keep cool and get rid of mites and lice.
Tip: Make sure they have a dedicated dust bath area, filled with a mixture of fine dirt, wood ash, and food-grade diatomaceous earth. This not only helps them stay cool but also keeps them free from parasites.
4. Offer Cooling Treats
Just like humans enjoy ice cream on a hot day, chickens appreciate a cold treat too.
Tip: Freeze fruits and vegetables like watermelon, cucumbers, and berries, and offer them to your chickens. These treats provide hydration, nutrients, and a fun way to cool down.
5. Watch for Signs of Heat Stress
Heat stress in chickens can lead to decreased egg production, illness, or even death.
Tip: Watch for symptoms like panting, lethargy, and decreased appetite. If you notice these signs, take immediate measures to cool your chickens down, such as providing them with cool water, moving them into the shade, and if severe, misting them with cool water.
6. Manage Parasites
Summer often brings an increase in pesky parasites like mites, lice, and fleas.
Tip: Keep the coop clean and perform regular checks on your chickens for any signs of infestation. Using a natural pesticide like diatomaceous earth can also help keep these pests at bay.
7. Adjust Their Diet
Heat can decrease a chicken's appetite, and they may need more hydration than nutrients during extreme temperatures.
Tip: Consider feeding them during the cooler parts of the day and offering more fruits and vegetables to boost their hydration. Also, ensure they have access to grit, which aids in digestion and helps keep them healthy.
Caring for chickens in the summer does require a bit of extra attention, but with these seven tips, you'll be well-equipped to keep your chickens happy and healthy during the hot months. Remember, a contented chicken is a productive chicken!
Happy summer chicken keeping!