As temperatures begin to flare above 90 degrees with high humidity, don’t forget about caring for your flock. An important requirement for raising poultry is maintaining a cool environment for them to produce and thrive. Chickens like humans also need hydration and shaded areas to feel comfortable in the heat. Without proper care, raising poultry will not be sustainable as your flock can suffer from heat stroke, appetite loss, and fewer eggs produced. An unhealthy bird is not good for anyone. Follow these hot weather tips for raising poultry and adopt practices every sustainable raiser can benefit from.
For starters, make sure ample water is available. Unlimited access to fresh, clean water is essential. In addition to accessibility, give your flock a boost by adding extras to the water such as ice and electrolytes. Try to change the water every few hours so it remains cold and fresh. Chickens won’t drink dirty or warm water and egg production will suffer. Provide as much shade as possible during the summer. Go beyond ventilating the coop and make sure there are areas in the pen that are set up to protect your flock from the sun beaming down. Feel free to get creative and use a parasol or an old sheet to create your own shelter to keep the birds cool. You can also add a misting fan to the coop to increase ventilation and reduce the ground temperature keeping your birds comfortable. Be careful when using cooling fans or misters due to electrical wire exposure. Accidents can happen when chickens play with the wiring or it gets wet. Another great tip to keeping your birds cool this summer is to feed them a cold diet. Popular ingredients such as corn and scratch should be used sparingly. Corn and chicken scratch take longer to digest, which creates more body heat raising the internal temperature of your chicken. As a substitute, feed your chickens fresh fruit and veggies to help regulate a cooler body temperature. Take it one step further by freezing fruits and vegetables, chopping them up, and serving them to your chickens. Some great options your chickens will enjoy include watermelon, cucumber, berries, pineapple, and oranges. Feed frozen fruits and veggies to your flock twice a day to help them retain high energy and coolness. The best hot weather tip to try this summer is inactivity. Avoid any unnecessary activity during the day and don’t disturb the birds. Maybe don’t let the dog outside or run them around the yard but do give them the freedom to play and be themselves as much as possible.
Raising poultry in the summer is all about comfort and reducing stress. Sustainable raisers understand the highest egg quality comes from a happy bird. A happy bird is a cool bird. Weather affects us all differently. Always beware of the signs of trouble and prevent the worse from happening by following these tips.