Yes, all of my chickens are cool. I haven't named all of them, but I talk to each and every one of them. I am more popular now than I was in high school with all of my cool chicken friends. But in all seriousness, I try my best to keep my chickens cool. Summer in the south is not ideal for furry, fluffy, and feathered friends.
If you are looking for fun and fresh ideas to keep your flock cool this summer, look no further. Not only will you be helping your feathered friends out, but some of these provide hours of entertainment. I mean, why else do we keep chickens, right?
There are 500,000 other blogs on keeping your chickens cool in the summer.
This is not a complete list, just my go to's for beating the summer heat.
#1 Bring them cool drinks
Ok, maybe not mixed drinks. And you probably wont need the tiny drink umbrellas or straws either.
Some of these go without saying. But the #1 thing that is going to help your chickens through the heat is fresh, clean, cold water. I cannot stress this enough! A dehydrated chicken is not fun to revive. I'm not saying you need to pop open a bottle of Evian every hour and fan them while they drink. But if the drinking stops, so does the digestion, so does the eating, so does the egg production. It gets bad for them, fast.
In conjunction with keeping their water fresh, it is imperative to keep it clean too. See...There are good algae (chlorella and spirulina) and there are bad algae (cyanobacteria, aka blue-green algae). And unless you are scientifically smart enough to recognize the good from the bad, one can boost your chicken's immune system and the other can kill the chicken. So for safety sake, give your water containers a good daily scrubbing. Adding 1/4 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar to a 5 gallon bucket of water will also keep algae down as well as providing other benefits for your chickens.
#2 Be shady
Not like Slim Shady either. Get something up for those feathered friends to get under. Tarps work great and are relatively affordable. Trees and brush are obviously God's gift to chickens in the summer. But if you don't have tree cover or if you have an atypical chicken setup like we do, there are dozens of other options.
I, personally, love my hoop coop from Amazon. Having nothing to do with chickens, I paid around $120 for this 7'x10'x15' greenhouse that works great for keeping my kids (and I mean the feathered ones) dry and cool (and warm!). It serves a purpose for every season. It has seen better days in this picture. And if I were to actually have the gumption to go out there and bake in the sun, I could probably get it permanently fixed to the ground.
If that doesn't fit your budget, how about these neat ideas:
- Cheap thrift store tables can sit in your yard with a few potted plants and an adorable solar lamp from the Dollar Tree. Not only will you have yard art, but your chickens will have at least a little shade to get into when they need it. Throw some dry dirt and fireplace ash under it for a luxurious, shady dust bath.
- A few cinder blocks (8) and one of your old, wore out bed sheets will make a lovely spot for your flock to hang out under. The best part about this is that you can adjust the size to suit your sheet. Just stack the cinder blocks 2 high in the corners, stretcher the sheet out and tuck it in between the two blocks. Voila!! Shade!
- Be on the lookout on Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, and in local yard sales for tents and 10x10 canopies that are cheap. The goal here is to get your flock somewhere that they aren't going to bake in the sun.
#3 Cheap concoctions
For those of you who don't know me, I love thrift stores and Dollar Tree. I buy more things for my chickens at both places than I ever do for myself. Most recently, I have been giving my chickens coconut water from Dollar Tree and my grapes when they get squishy. This past week, with temps in the 90s, I had the bright idea to freeze this concoction. And my chickens went crazy over it!
The Azul coconut water actually has shreds of coconut in it. If you really wanted to get fancy, you could buy coconut oil and put a glob or two in there to freeze as well. It is just as good for chickens as it is for us! And they love it! (Maybe not a cheap concoction, but still a good idea).
A whopping $3 spent at the Dollar Tree and another $3 at Food Lion. I haven't tried yet, but I am considering going to the manager of my local grocery stores to see if I can collect the fruits and veggies that don't sell before they are less than pretty and get thrown away.
Super easy to make. Takes less than 5 minutes. Throw it in the freezer the night before the heat wave, and at the peak of the heat, put it out for your feathered friends to enjoy.
This segment should have been called "How to get your chickens to love you."
#4 Fruity Tootie
Though I don't have any pictures, I love watching all of my kids, from the biddies to the grow-outs to the grown ups, go Coo Coo for frozen fruits. If you want added entertainment value, hang said frozen fruits and make your chickens a frozen, tether treat. Keeps them occupied and cool and you entertained. Who needs TV?
Frozen bananas are easiest to hang and a flock favorite. Watermelon is also a flock favorite and they will pick it clean to the rine! My kids aren't crazy about apples, so I save those for the horses (throw them in the water trough and watch them go bobbing for apples). Grapes are easy to freeze and my biddies and growouts can carry them around. There is nothing more entertaining than watching a bunch of chicks chase after a blueberry or grape.
Get creative! I'd love to see how your flock reacts.
Yes, I went there. Yes, I make my chickens smoothies. But not how you think. I don't have the time to make myself a smoothie much less my chickens. And at the going rate of real fruit smoothies these days, I will savor those when I get one.
I ferment my chicken's feed once a week. I will do a blog post on that next. But following these simple steps, you can make your chickens a frozen, probiotic rich smoothie for those miserably hot days.
Step 1...Go to Dollar Tree and get a container with a lid.
Step 2...Fill said container to the half way point with feed (any kind is fine)
Step 3...Add water until it completely covers the feed and close the lid
Step 4...Let sit for 12-24 hours, uninterrupted
Step 5...Put container in fridge for another 12-24 hours
Step 6...Open it up, give it a stir, and feed
Your flock will, once again, go nuts. Fermenting your chickens feed has so many benefits and is incredibly easy. There is no good reason not to try it. Next post will be on that because I just love doing it and my chickens love eating it.
#6 Go Fish!
Disclaimer...I haven't tried this yet, but I am excited to!
Recently I watched a short video clip of a family that gave their chickens a kiddie pool, filled it to a safe level, and then added goldfish to it. Real, live goldfish, swimming around. How neat of an idea is this!?! I have yet to find anything on the interwebs that say chicken shouldn't eat live fish. (Come on now, we all know what kind of crap they actually enjoy eating....crap!) So a little entertainment for you, some extra protein, hydration, and excitement for your chickens...its a WIN-WIN!
I will definitely post this when I do it on my next hot day off.
Once again, this list is not exhaustive. I hope it has provided you with some new and different ideas to treat your chickens and keep them cool.
Until next time, stay cluckin, my friends.