Overheated Chickens, & How to Quickly Cool 'Em Off.

I learned a hard lesson this summer, and it revolved around the heat of the summer sun.

We had a fairly mild summer when it came to really hot temperatures. In fact, we really only turned the air conditioner on in our house a handful of times; it never ran consistently for more than 2 or 3 days. This hard lesson I learned involved our backyard chickens. 

I almost killed them when I left them in their chicken tractor in direct sunlight for a few hours. 

Of course, I didn't do this intentionally! Every day the ladies get a few hours to free range the yard (if I'm in the backyard) or pick around in their chicken tractor (if I'm not in the backyard). I put them in their chicken tractor one morning under the shade of a tree and went inside to work on a project. A few hours later, when I went out to check on the ladies, I freaked.

The sun had moved, and their chicken tractor was no longer in the shade. The ladies were in FULL SUN and the temps were HOT.


I immediately knew I needed to cool them down, because they were panting (yep, like a dog, but without a slobbery tongue) and were sitting on the ground with their wings kicked out from their bodies. The poor birds were trying to cool themselves off on the grass. They also had really pale combs, which is another sign of heat exhaustion. Their combs are typically a bright red.

I felt like a shitty chicken mom. (Did I just say that? Chicken mom? Oh my…)

So, I did what any other person would do: I Googled.

I grabbed a bucket and filled it with cold tap water. And, according to the advice from The Google, I gently picked up each bird and 'dunked' them up to their necks in the bucket of cool water. I thought I would have a crazed bird on my hands, and there would be flailing and heaving and clucking.

But there wasn't any of that.

They sat super still in the bucket and enjoyed their little cool-down.

After dunking each bird for about 45-60 seconds, I moved their run back to a very shady part of the yard (by this time their coop was also in full sun, so I knew it would be really hot in there). Almost instantly the ladies stopped panting and their combs got their color back.

Now that fall is here, the hot temperatures won't be an issue for a while. Sadly, this was a hard lesson learned about heat exhausted chickens.

Do you have any tips for keeping your chickens cool in the summer, or comfortable in the winter? 

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  1. "Chicken mom." I love it. It's hard not to call ourselves animal moms when we love our animals.

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