Chickens in Hot Weather: 17 Ways to Help Keep Your Flock Cool This Summer

The girls eating frozen watermelon, cantelope and strawberries. Yum.

Summer finally feels like it’s on the way in these parts. After cool, rainy days, a couple of sunny days inching close to 90 had my hens wondering what hit them. As a general rule, hot weather is harder on the average backyard flock than cold weather. And even more so, during the change of seasons when it could be 50 one day and 90 the next, your flock might need some extra TLC. (Of course, the same TLC and planning is necessary for those long, hot mid-summer stretches as well.)

If you happen to live in a warm summer area, here are some ideas to help keep your flock cooler and happier this summer:

  1. Provide shade. Give your birds a place to escape the sunshine. If they don’t have      natural shade available to them, create some artificial shade (put up a big beach umbrella, for instance).
  2. Keep them supplied with cold water. Not only will cooler water help cool your birds, chickens don’t actually like to drink warm water. On hot days, change water frequently. Add ice to help keep it cold longer.
  3. Provide dirt bath areas. Giving your chickens a good space to ‘bathe’ is essential for many reasons, but when it’s hot, it’s a good way for them to cool off  by rolling in the dirt.
  4. Add electrolytes to their water. This will help keep them from getting dehydrated in the heat.
  5. If you keep lights on in the coop, turn them off!
  6. Increase the ventilation in your coop to help the hot air escape.
  7. Place reflective foil insulation on roof of coop in the morning and remove it at night. This will help keep the coop cooler.
  8. Fill a shallow pan or dish with cold water (like a cake pan or plant tray). Some chickens will hop in and cool off by standing in the cool water.
  9. Install a fan in your coop. Just make sure to keep it from blowing DIRECTLY on      where they roost at night. And keep it out of their way so they don’t get hurt with moving blades.
  10. Give them cold (or even better, frozen) fruit and vegetables. Eating them will help them cool off. My girls’ favorites are watermelon and grapes.
  11. Don’t feed them cracked corn during the summer. It heats up their body      temperature (which is a good reason to give it to them in the winter,  especially right before they go to bed at night).
  12. Dig a shallow pit and spray it lightly with water (make it damp, not muddy).  Hens can lay in this space to cool off.
  13. Freeze water bottles or milk jugs with ice. Place the frozen bottles in the coop,  or around the run for the chickens to sit on or lay by.
  14. Leave them alone. When it’s really hot, it’s not a good time to play, chase or  harass them. Let them lay around, stress free, and try to stay cool.
  15. Put sprinklers on the coop roof. The water will evaporate and carry the heat with it, greatly dropping the heat inside the coop.
  16. Decrease the litter inside the coop. Because both litter and chicken waste generate heat, it’s best if there’s no more than 2 inches of litter in the coop during hot days.
  17. Mist them with cool water, or stand  them in a bucket of water that covers their feet and legs if you have a hen that’s really struggling.

Maybe you have a good idea that I didn’t list above. If so, please share it with us.

PS: Although I’ve bathed my girls before (because of lice, see story here), I’ve never taken them swimming. However, here are some amazing pictures of some girls swimming with their hens. They claim the birds loved it, and it cooled them down. I personally didn’t even know hens would swim…so you just never know what might work.

Stay cool!

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24 Responses to Chickens in Hot Weather: 17 Ways to Help Keep Your Flock Cool This Summer

  1. these are great! I’ve been worrying about what I can do for my new buff orpingtons in the summer- Michigan summer temps can get into the high 90’s and humid, and the coop is located in a very sunny spot. I think with the combination of being able to lay under the coop in the cool dirt and some of these tricks, they’ll be just fine.

  2. JUST ME says:


  3. JParadisiRN says:

    Hey cirtygirlfarming: A friend posted this pn Facebook today and I thought of you and you’re readers. Someone is looking for cool chicken coops in Portland.

    Have a great weekend!

  4. lynn says:

    Thanks for all the great ideas- it is way warmer in my neck of the woods than normal this time of year and I was wondering if I needed to think about cooling off things for the girly girls.

  5. Kristina Fox says:

    Thank you! Since I am a brand new chicken owner I was wondering what to do for my girls this Summer. Their coop is a converted 8 x 10 wooden storage shed, with a new roof. I worry about them when it gets real warm though and it’s just starting to heat up.

  6. WonkyGirl says:

    We put misters out for the hens and a box fan runs all afternoon.I do run some water to fill thier dust holes and they wade until it soaks in and then they lay on wet ground. It will be around 98 every day of July, August and September. Watch the half grown chicks, some days they struggle in the heat.

    • Ohhh, that’s a LOT of heat….we have maybe a acouple weeks of weather that hot…I think I’d die right along with my chickens! The misters are a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I make unglazed ceramic waterers. They keep the water cool all day through a very slow evaporation through the porous wall of the pot. Plus they are nice lawn “ornaments”!

  8. Great post. We are talking to our HOA about getting the O.K. to raise chickens. This is great information. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I had 10 baby chickies die yesterday because of heat stress….now they have a fan and it’s the funniest thing to see them all line up in front of it!! Gave my layers some frozen watermelon today…they loved it!

    • Oh so sad about the babies. :( Hopefully you won’t have any more troubles with your girls this summer. I got a great visual of them all trying to get the best spot in front of the fan. ha. Best of luck!

  10. V says:

    110 degrees here in Southern California. We take our chicken and douse her with the garden hose until she is soaked to the bone. She doesn’t like it, but it keeps her from overheating!

  11. We have a mist system we can use for the worst heat. I use a remote weather station thermostat in the coop so I can see what the real temperature is in there. We are lucky to have plenty of shade and room for them to roam and find refuge in the yard. We have an old swamp cooler we were considering making solar powered and putting in the coop for the girls. I have giant blue Cochins, who are massively feathery! I’ve only had one rooster ever get heat stroke! I thought he was dead but I took care of him immediately and he survived. Scared the dickens out of me though!
    I love the ceramic waterers, Michael!

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