Friday, July 22, 2011

How to Beat the Heat, Chicken Chillers

Texas gets a little warm in the summer. While Doc and I are inside enjoying the air conditioned splendor of the Humble Abode, the chickens are outside getting a head start on roasting.

Frugal farmer that I am, I prefer to use failsafe passive methods to protect the flock. The first protection I added was a shade cloth to cover overly-sunny locations.
Shade cloth on the gate
 The cheesy PVC tractor got a shade cloth as soon as I tried to use it in the daylight. I eventually abandoned the tractor because I only had one water source in there. More about water below.
Shade cloth over tractor
I found silver-sided tarps that were just the right size to attach from the big coop to the run fence. With some wildly improvised PVC pipe and a lot of baling twine, the tarps kept out the rain and sun.
Elegant awning for only $10
Chickens pant a lot in hot weather and need to replace the water lost. To help them with their organic active cooling system, I provide multiple water stations in the main run.

De, Robin, and water, water, water
The black livestock dish was a wise investment. One chicken is smart enough to wade in there. The rest prefer to drink from the plastic waterer or the galvanized metal waterer.
Oreo demonstrates hands-free drinking technique

The chickens need water at all times, even at night. I sometimes have to replace fouled water three times in a day. I guess poo-water is the chicken version of lemonade. Oh yeah!

The flock also appreciates getting hosed down with cool refreshing water. Well actually, that is not true. They hate it with a fiery passion. Mr. Big hates it less than the others, but Buffy fairly smokes with rage when I reach for the hose.
Mr. Big fixin' to chill out
When my nephew shows up for his hopefully-annual recreational hard labor, I plan to have him paint the metal roof of the new coop. A coat of white paint on there will cut the coop temperature by 10 degrees.

Other people have made suggestions which I have not yet tried:

  • Install a mister system
  • Plant shade vines
  • Freeze bottles of water and set them in the run or in the water dish
  • Provide frozen fruit or frozen vegetable treats
  • Install a coop fan

What methods do you use to beat the heat?

Update: Tried freezing bottles of water. The adult chickens were not interested. The chicks initially ran in terror, then stepped closer for a look, and then finally lounged on and around it. Ah, the wisdom of youth!

1 comment:

  1. I raised my waterer on an overturned metal crate which keeps it cleaner. I did see an idea where someone overturned a trash can and put in ice packs. The chickens could go in there like a fridge. Cool idea!