Don't Let your Chooks Cook!
No, I don't mean don't let them make you dinner.. If they offer to whip you up a Spag Bol, who are you to refuse??
Summer can be a hard time for chickens, especially if you have any rescue hens in your flock, those ladies do not cope well with the heat! I'm sad to admit that in my early chicken keeping days I lost a couple of lives to heat stroke (on Christmas Day too) *wipes away a stray tear* SOO!! Since that fateful Christmas Day I have upped the ante on my heat stroke fighting tricks, and here are my top 6 ways to 'not let your chooks cook'
Tip Number 1: I am mentioning it here because it's ALWAYS recommended to me. Sprinklers!! This one if very situational.. for example none of my birds enjoy the water at all, so sprinklers would just be a waste of water. It doesn’t solve the problem in the Hoskins Hens flock, but that's not to say your chook aren't water babies!
Tip Number 2: Buy a deep water bowl! The water bowl my hennies have is actually intended as an indoor pot plant, but it's large, it's round and it's deep (31cm wide and 15cm deep) . I've found that even if your water bowl is large, if it's somewhat shallow and/or is flat bottomed instead of rounded, then your chookens will spill more water than they drink and on a 30+ degree day, you don't want your flock running out of water!
Tip Number 3: Also a good reason to have a deep water bowl.. save your left over 1.25 litre drink bottles, fill them with water and freeze! Dump this giant ice block in your chookies water bowl in the morning and it should chill their drinking water for them up until the heat of the day has passed.
Tip Number 4: Wet the Ground. When the sun is glaring down, you'll be amazed at how big of a difference this makes! Not only will the evaporative effect this causes cool the air temperature of the area, but chickens dump body heat through their feet, so they'll seriously thank you for the cool surface to walk on.
Tip Number 5: Buy a Watermelon, or whatever your chickens favorite treat is (preferably one with a high water content) cut it into large pieces, and freeze. Throw one of these bad boys out into the yard during the hottest part of the day, and this cool treat will both keep them occupied and cool for a quite a while
Tip Number 6: Pick an area of your garden, preferably one that's shaded, and clear it of plants/weeds/ornaments etc to encourage your flock to dust bathe there. Each morning spray the area lightly with a hose, and by midday when the sun is high and hot, the area will serve as a cool retreat for your girls to bathe.
The bigger the chook, the hotter she'll get! Keep an eye on your bigger girls, or any rescue hens in the flock (they're notoriously bad at coping with the heat) especially when the temperatures hit over 30 degrees. If they're showing signs of heat stroke i.e.. panting, wings held out from their body bring them inside and dunk them in a body of room temperature water, they may protest a little but it may just save their lives!