If we humans can’t handle overheat or under-heat, neither can’t chickens. To survive, chickens need to stay within a temperature limit. But don’t think that they can live well if you push them to said limits.
Chickens are known to resist cold weather better than hot weather, so how hot can chickens tolerate? If you are facing hot weather, how can you protect and keep your chickens cool throughout the period?
How hot can chickens tolerate?
When the outside temperature reaches roughly 29.5 degrees Celsius (or 85.1 Fahrenheit), the chickens may start to overheat. The ability to withstand heat can vary from breed to breed.
In some places like the NT or North Queensland, the temperature in summer can frequently reach this figure, so try to get yourself some breeds of chickens that can withstand this heat.
What are the consequences of overheating?
The chickens’ bodies can be sensitive to heat, so it may cause them some health problems. Some of the most prevalent problems include heatstroke, heat-inducing stress, or even in extreme cases, death.
When experiencing heat stroke, the chickens will lay on the sides. Their body will stretch out and their legs and feet will stick straight out one side and their heads on the other side.
The chickens can also get stiff when getting heatstroke, to the point that they won’t react at all unless you go and grab them.
However, you won’t have to worry too much about the heat if you take the right precaution. By preparing for the hot temperature, you can make sure your flock will make it through the summer season.
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What are the signs that show the chickens are affected by the heat?
Just like humans can have some signs like skin burns when being exposed to high temperatures, chickens will show some behavioral characteristics if they feel a bit hot under their feathers.
Some of the signs include having no appetite, panting, drooping lethargic, spreading the wings away from their bodies, and discolored or pale wattles or combs.
Since chickens can’t sweat, they rely on releasing water vapor into the air using their beaks. This means they will get dehydrated and their bodies’ pH figures will change, but not in a good way.
What to do to keep your chickens cool?
Now that you know the signs that show your chickens are getting heat stress, as well as its consequences, what should you do to keep your chickens cool?
Get them some water
This is an obvious and rather easy way to keep your chickens cool in the summer. Make sure that your chickens have cool and clean water available at all times.
Cool water is important since warmer water is less effective at keeping your chickens cool. Warmer water may also cause mold, bacteria, fungi, and other microbes to grow in the water.
In the process of panting, chickens may lose their pH balance due to the loss of electrolytes. So to further rehydrate your chickens, you can try adding some electrolyte solutions to the water.
Regarding the weather, when it is hot during the daytime, you can instead feed the chickens during the evening or early morning. Those times are when the temperature is the coolest in the day.
Make the coop cool
The coop is where your flock would want to stay when it is not ideal to go outside, so keeping it cool is a great way to make sure that your chickens can remain comfortable during hot weather.
- Get a better roof
You can start by opting for a more shiny roof for the coop since it will reflect heat and sunlight away from the coop and lower its temperature by a decent amount of degree. A dull roof surface and a dirty coop roof will not reflect sunlight and heat as well.
- Clean up the coop
Try to clean up litter inside or around the coop regularly since it will accumulate over time, the litter can gradually decay and produce heat.
Cleaning up litter also reduces moisture and humidity in the coop. Plant some grasses around your coop to further absorb the heat since bare dirt can absorb heat.
Keep the airflow
Heat can transfer through the air, so having a proper ventilation system is one of the best ways to lower the heat in your coop.
In the coop, the chickens themselves can be the heat sources, they excrete waste and breath.
As the water evaporates from the water and the chickens inside the coop, the relative humidity goes up, which makes the temperature feel hotter than it actually is.
The airflow will remove hot air and humidity and replace it with cool air from other sources. You can push the hot air and moist away from the coop by installing some fans and get enough natural airflow.
How cold can chickens withstand?
The ideal temperature for chickens ranges from 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. But, they can tolerate colder weather if they have to. Hens can still lay eggs even when the temperatures hit below freezing.
Even though chickens can withstand cold temperatures just fine, you should still take some measures to keep them warm throughout the days, improve laying, and prevent diseases.
So, how hot can chickens tolerate? chickens can start to feel hot when the temperature reaches about 29.5 degrees Celsius or about 85.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the temperature is too hot, the chickens could experience heatstroke, heat-inducing stress, or even death in extreme cases.
Chickens will show signs of heatstroke like no appetite, panting, drooping lethargic, spreading the wings away from their bodies, and discolored or pale wattles or combs.
Therefore, you should take measures like getting a new reflective rooftop, providing water in the coop, clean up the coop, and keep the airflow.
Image credits – Photo by Christin Hume, Robert Bottman on unsplash.com