Keeping Your Backyard Chickens Cool In the Summertime

Backyard chicken looking into camera in the shade

We all know that dogs and cats need extra care on hot days to avoid overheating. Believe it or not, chickens also need our help in order to stay comfortable during times of excessive heat.  

Thankfully, there are a few simple things you can do to keep your hens cool on summer days that won’t take up too much of your time (or budget). Read on for some ideas that are sure to keep your hens happy: 

Start Simple 

This may seem obvious, but shade is super important for keeping your hens cool during summer. Direct sunlight increases their body temps faster than you might think, despite any other relief seeking measures you might take.  

If your coop/run isn’t near any shade trees, putting up some shade sails or a makeshift shade of your own works well. These are easy to install, cost-effective, and well worth the cooling effect they have on the ground (and chickens) below! 

Provide a Breeze 

Chicken in coop sitting near cold water bottles and fan

Ventilation is key to moving hot air away from your chickens. Keeping their coop open to allow a breeze to form will help, as will installing some oscillating fans if the space allows. Also, their run area should have fencing that air can flow through on all sides. 

Another great way to dispel hot air is to put up misters — or even a simple lawn sprinkler — around the areas where your chickens hang out. These not only allow cooling through tiny drops of water but will also create a nice breeze as the water evaporates.  

Chilly Treats 

chickens enjoying frozen treat

Just as humans love to eat frozen treats on hot days, so do our pets. This includes chickens, believe it or not! While you obviously won’t be bringing them to the local ice cream parlor, there are plenty of ways to keep them cool through the healthy treats they already love. 

Small chunks of frozen fruits and veggies like strawberries, watermelon, corn, carrots, and other chicken-safe options will go over swimmingly with your flock on hot days. It’s like a chicken’s version of chasing the neighborhood ice cream truck — they’ll be on you in a heartbeat! 

Dust it Up 

Chickens love their dust baths in any weather; it’s their way of staying clean and pesticide-free. It’s also a smart way to access the cooler earth below the surface, and a great tactic for cooling off on hot days. If your chickens’ preferred dust bath area is in the sun, you can easily create one in the shade. 

If your earth doesn’t permit this, place a large tub or kiddie pool in the shade and fill it with dirt for them to scratch around in. This can also be alternated with water for a nice cool swim, or even a little of both — mud baths are super cooling, too!    

Keeping Your Chickens Happy 

young girl feeding backyard chickens near chicken coop

As you can see, it’s relatively easy to keep your chickens cool, calm, and collected during warmer weather. For more ideas, check out the full poultry-raising line on! 

Signs of Heat Stroke in Chickens

It's always a good idea to know what symptoms to look out for so here are the common signs of heat stroke in backyard poultry: 

  • Heavy panting 
  • Extreme body heat
  • Staggering or disorientation
  • Severe lethargy - immobility and poor body posture. The chicken may struggle to stand on it's own
  • Seizures

If you feel as if your chicken may be struggling with heat stroke, we recommend that you contact your vet immediately.