Raising Chickens In The Summer

With summer coming on here in the US, I thought a little info about raising chickens in the summer would be in order.

Can you imagine a hot summer day hoping for just a slight breeze to cool off a bit?  If so, then most likely your chickens have or are feeling the same way.

Extreme heat can stress them to the point that it effects their egg production and not for the good.  Chickens need plenty of fresh, cool water.  My husband and I give them fresh water in the mornings even before we feed them.

We do this in the afternoon and before they are ready to roost.  We keep the waterers in the shade when possible.  We live in the high desert of New Mexico. If you live in this area or have traveled through in the summer you know what I mean when I say HOT!

If your chickens are in a pen or run, provide shade for them, paying close attention to where the sun shines the most during the hottest part of the day.  Just about any weather proof material will work that can be attached to the outside of the pen or run.  We have willows growing along our ditch bank.  I have cut them to place on top of the run to shade them even more.

They are a little difficult to clean up in the fall though.  Leaving them and adding more the next summer works fine and helps some with snow in the winter but snow doesn’t usually fall straight down, especially where we live so the choice of removing them in the fall is yours.

There is no need to shut them up at night if your run is completely enclosed to protect them from predators.  Having wire over the windows is another way to keep them cool at night.   Remove the windows during the summer.  They are still protected by the wire and have ventilation too.

If you suspect your chickens may have mites or lice there is a powder that can be sprinkled on them and rubbed into their feathers.  Some suggest sprinkling it on the soil where they tend to flip dust on their feathers and in the nesting boxes.  We have never had a problem with mites or lice.  I credit it to a suggestion from a friend of ours.

He’s an “Old Timer” (and I say that with the greatest respect), in his 90’s – well, 94 to be exact and still has his chickens!  He said he spreads wood shavings (not fine sawdust) on the floor of the coop, some in the nesting boxes and on the ground of the chicken run.  Evidently the turpentine in the shavings repels both mites and lice.

I thought the age he is and all the chickens he has raised in his lifetime, he had much more experience than I do.  I tried it, it worked and that is still what I do.  Besides, I don’t like the idea of chemicals around my chickens or eggs.

Watch your flock carefully when it is very hot.  If they stand with their wings a bit away from their body or their beaks are open – they are over heated.  Make sure their water is cool and shade is available.

Chickens are like any other pet.  You start to notice their habits.  If they aren’t acting quite right chances are things aren’t right.  Do what you can to make them more comfortable – the same as you would do for any other animal.

Do what you can to keep them comfortable in a cool/airy coop and they will reward you with those great fresh eggs!