Keeping Your Birds Comfortable During High Heat
It’s Summer! That time of year for fun, lots of sun and swimming. For us here at the farm it is high temps for Vermont, today is going to be 90 degrees and this has us worried about heat stress and our birds. How do birds keep their cool? What can we do to help? In this blog post The Chicken Doc and Fowl Guru will give you some practical tips and tricks to keep your birds comfortable. These tips can be used for all fowl. We have a variety of fowl here on the farm so we need to have practical solutions for all which includes: chickens, turkeys, coturnix quail, guinea, ducks, and geese.
Keep The Water Cool
Birds don’t like to drink hot water, they would rather not drink at all. If you are filling from a hose remember the hose water will be hot. Run the water to get the hot water out first then fill. We like to reuse plastic water bottles from our drinks and fill with water and freeze. We rotate out a bottle or two per day. So in the morning bring out the bottles that are frozen. In the peak of heat rotate out those melted ones with the frozen ones. Re-freeze, repeat. Provide some dishes around with water for them to dip their feet in. For each of my coops I have a pan with water, then some cold water with the frozen bottles. For waterfowl – lots of water to get into!! Make sure they have access to water at all times.
Reduce Body Temps
A chickens normal body temp is around 104°F, wow that is hot! Unlike people, chickens don’t have sweat glands nor do their feathers allow for a cool breeze to take that summer heat off. You may see a chicken panting or wings outstretched. The birds are trying to cool themselves. We recommend adding any of these items to their water to assist with body temp reduction:
- Add Aspirin to the water to help lower the Internal body Temperature, 340 mg per gallon of water.
- Add Sodium Bicarbonate at the rate of 4 Grams per gallon of water.
- Add Vitamins and Electrolytes to the drinking water.
- Add Vitamin C to the drinking water, use Ester-C Vitamin C if possible.
Any of these choices will work.
You can manage heat in your flock through air flow. Airflow at the birds’ level is key to removing bird heat. Increasing ventilation to remove heat from the birds area is critical. So move that air – use fans and ventilation systems. We have provided diagrams of 2 types of cooling systems you can make. A swamp cooler system and coil system. Pictures are provided in this blog post. Air mister systems is another idea but you need a hose for this.
Here are some additional tips to keep them cool:
- Feed only in the early AM and late PM, not during the heat of the day.
- Provide shade any way you can and make your own if there is none.
- Use a piece of wet burlap and a fan to create a cooling effect for the birds.
- Decrease birds activity levels
Peter Brown, aka The Chicken Doctor has over 50 years experience in the field and a self trained Poultry Biologist and offers consultations through Sugar Feather Farm for health and overall concerns. The Fowl Guru Nicolle Ferrier is a owner of Sugar Feather Farm and offers customers farm and fowl consultations, classes and trainings. Both Nicolle and Peter work together to better the lives of all fowl owners around the world!
Sugar Feather Farms LLC are producers of this article and all pictures and information are copywrited information and not to be used without permission from Sugar Feather Feather Farm.