CLUCK, CLUCK, CLUCK!!!
Holy Heatwave!!!!! I hope every one is keeping cool these past few days. All I can say is "Hello Ohio Summer!" Summer has ALWAYS been my favorite season. Growing up it meant no school, air conditioning, swimming and usually a trip to the ocean. Summer is ALWAYS coupled with The Beach Boys. For me, I can't have one without the other. A lot of people don't like hot humid days. I never minded them before since it meant the water at the pool wouldn't be so cold I would shiver all day...I could actually enjoy it. This year was no different; however, the heat has officially out stayed it's welcome.
Super hot days means extra work for The Chicken Lady and Prissy's Prince Charming. It means filling waterers up several times a day and changing out the ice packs I made for the chickies. (I got that idea, from where else, Chickens Magazine.) Having read an article on keeping chickens cool in hot weather, I re-read the article today and immediately felt like a piece of crap owner. After sharing some information on a chicken's natural way to beat the heat and all the fun stuff a human has to do to keep the girls cool, I'll add in my two-cents worth. (Hey, it's MY blog and I can say what I want!)
OK... so chickies have a regular body temperature of 105 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit, but they lack sweat glands. All their ventilation is done through their air sacs, and when a chicken exhales it releases hot air. In warmer temperatures, such as those we are currently experiencing, a chicken will pant...they say this is quite effective. A chicken will began panting when temperatures reach around 85 degrees Fahrenheit....the temperature a chicken keeper needs to keep the area the chickens are in (whatever).
I said before that I refill the waterers a lot more now and that is because an adult chicken will drink one to two cups of water a day. Dan and I fill water up every morning, every night and a couple of times throughout the day. There is also Chicken Gatorade you can buy... it's a powder you put in their water to replenish electrolytes....you'll get my opinion of this later in the post.
Another cooling behaviour a chicken will exhibit on super hot days is spreading their wings out. This allows more air to reach the skin. They also like to dig holes in the dirt and lay in those and as always, take a dirt bath. I tried to take a decent picture of the wing spreading...
Our chickies are definitely panting. Of course I feel bad. Dan and I hung up on old box fan that they seem to enjoy. He tried to hang in the the coop window tonight, but he said they didn't care much for it. Jimmy and Charlie also get a big fan...I tried to hose them off today, but they didn't care much for that; sent them running out of the barn. (I figured they weren't too bad off if they can muster the energy to run.)
I also made some ice packs out of empty milk cartons. I will take one out in the morning and then replace it with another frozen one in the afternoon. The chickens can gather around them if they want to or peck on the melting water on the sides. One of my nuggets was enjoying this this afternoon.
Like I said, after reading the article I was under the impression I should be out there 24/7 waving huge palm leafs in my chickens' faces. I love my animals and I believe in creature comfort; however, the insinuation of needing to stress out that my chickens are too hot and need convinces such as air conditioning, are just plain stupid. I mean, do you think Laura Ingalls Wilder worried about ice packs for her chickens??? The Amish don't have fans running and they don't hose down the walls and ceilings of their chicken coops. (YES that was a suggestion from this article!) People, once we start babying our animals, we start breeding out their defenses given to them by God Himself. Give the guy a little more credit. Yes, we can refill water throughout they day, yes we can try to give them something cool to lay against, and yes we can supply a fan; but I'm not standing outside with a garden hose or rebuilding my barn to accommodate a bird that has natural tolerance and defenses already built in.
Besides, we are not seeing a drop in egg production...in fact, it's climbing. I'm also not going to change a feeding schedule around and worry about being home during certain times of the day because feeding during the day is a bad thing because if they eat they might get too hot....
...cluck... cluck... cluck...
P.S. There will a few days here in July where I won't be posting. Me and Prissy's Prince Charming are going to the beach that The Beach Boys sang about!
Weaver, Sue. "When the Mercury Rises." Chickens Magazine. Summer 2011: 38+