Record high temperatures are not a good thing for you backyard herd! Your chickens will be particularly affected by the heat. Be prepared with a few tricks to beat the heat and keep your hens laying you beautiful homegrown eggs. You definitely do not have to do ALL these thing to ensure you do not loose your whole flock, but rotate it up and see what you and your animals prefer.
- Fresh Water!!! First and foremost is WATER!! You will be surprised how much water your animals will consume on those hot days! Keep their water fresh and cool. I even toss in ice cubes and it will have my animals complete attention! Curiosity will bring them to the water bucket and everyone will get a fresh cool drink! Freeze ice blocks to help keep the water cooler longer.
- Chilled fruit and veggies! Cut up veggies and fruit, toss them in the freezer and have a lovely afternoon treat for your animals. Focus on fruit and veggies that are high in water content. My girls love frozen or chilled tomatoes and watermelon. On the crazy hot summer days I collect any damaged or dropped tomatoes from the garden first thing in the morning and instead of tossing them to the compost pile, I take them inside to chill for a few hours.
- Water frozen in pop bottles and milk jugs. Lay the bottles outside in your animals favorite afternoon shade tree spot and you will find their popular location will become even more popular as the bottles will help cool the area! Clean off your bottles at night and refreeze them...keep a good rotation of clean bottles!
- Shade! Make sure they have plenty of shade access!! If you are concerned about them having enough shade, try covering an area with a tarp to provide more shade...just don't make it a blanket that cuts off their air circulation!
- Misters. We do not have misters for our girls (yet) but this is one way to cool the air by several degrees. Our hens do not run for cover when it rains so I think they would enjoy the misters. We want to set up some misters on a timer so we don't end up with a mud pit. Also we need to rotate the mist so our goats can still enjoy the yard...goats hate rain and hate being sprayed with water!!
- Fans. Place a fan right outside their fence and help get air circulation!
- Ice packs! Those little nest boxes can get extremely hot...especially if your coop is in the sun part of the day. Chickens LOVE to dust bath and this will help cool them as well. If your flock are big fans of this, try tucking a few ice packs in the sand where they dust bath...just keep an eye on them and make sure they don't try to peck away and tear open the ice packs. Clean off your ice packs at night and refreeze them...keep a good rotation of clean packs!
- Flat bucket of water for them to walk through to cool their feet and legs...some chickens may walk, some may lay down, and other might just think its for drinking.
These are just a few ideas of what you can try. Let me know what works for you and your animals!