Keep your chickens cool and comfortable this summer with these 5 quick and easy ways to cool your chicken coop!
Summer is right around the corner, which means that it’s time to start preparing for those inevitable heat waves! Heat can make us all miserable, and that includes our chickens! But, depending on the temperatures and the breed of chicken, it can also be downright dangerous!
Keeping your chickens cool and comfortable is vital to their health and well-being. Start planning your cooling options now so that you aren’t caught off guard when the heat hits this summer!
Use a fan to cool your chicken coop
Fans don’t actually cool the air, but they do circulate air. If you’ve ever wished for a breeze on a stifling hot day, you know what a difference good airflow can make! Installing a fan in your chicken run will also help reduce moisture and ammonia levels by providing additional ventilation.
Some fans, like the one pictured, will automatically turn on when the temperature reaches a certain level. This is extra helpful if you aren’t able to be home during hot days. If you don’t have power near your coop, there are some solar fan options on the market that might be a better fit for your situation.
Bonus tip: For particularly hot afternoons, you can easily make a DIY air conditioner for your chicken coop! The easiest way to do this is to set a big tub with ice in front of your fan and direct it towards your chicken coop or run. Or, if you want to get fancier, you can find lots of plans online that show you how to adapt a cooler to create a low-tech air conditioner!
Cool your chicken coop with misters
Misters area great way to cool off your chicken run on hot days! The cool moist air lowers the relative temperature of the area through evaporative cooling. On average, a mister can help reduce temperatures by 5-20 degrees!
There are many different types of misters on the market. Ideally, you will want to choose a mister that provides a very fine spray of water, rather than dripping or spraying water. Install the mister near the top of your run so that the mist has time to disperse before it reaches the ground. This will reduce the water saturating one spot which can create a muddy area. While most chickens don’t mind getting a little damp on warm days, it is also good to provide a dry area where chickens can go if they don’t want to be under the spray.
Grow some shade to cool your chicken coop
Shade is extra important for chickens on hot days! If your chicken coop and chicken run is in a sunny area, consider growing some shade for your chickens! It’s ideal to plant your shade plants on the South and West sides of the coop which receive the hottest sun during the day.
Deciduous trees are a great option. They provide shade during the summer but still allow warming sun to shine on the coop in the winter once the leaves have fallen. The leaves can also be used as bedding material in the fall!
However, trees can take quite a while to mature. In the meantime, consider growing tall flowers or vining plants around the exterior of your chicken run. Hollyhocks, amaranth, hops, sunflowers, grapes, honeysuckle, and climbing roses can provide some beauty and shade at the same time! Or, you can grow vining veggies like cucumbers, peas, beans and squash to provide tasty snacks along with shade!
Water play is for chickens too!
Just like humans, many chickens also enjoy playing in the water on hot days! Water is also one of the best ways to quickly cool off an area. Wetting the area surrounding your chicken coop can help to relatively cool the coop as well!
Since our chicken coops were located near our yard, we would turn the lawn sprinklers on for about 20 – 30 minutes in the early afternoon. This would help to cool the grass and the areas immediately surrounding the coops for the remainder of the afternoon. The cool, damp grass became a favorite spot for our free-range chickens to spend the hot afternoons!
Alternatively, if you aren’t able to utilize sprinklers, you can provide a kiddy pool or other low basin filled with a few inches of water for your chickens. Many chickens enjoy getting their toes wet on hot days!
Create instant shade with shade cloth
A quick, easy and affordable way to provide shade for your chickens is to use shade cloth. Shade cloth is made from a loosely woven material that provides shade and airflow. There are different weights of cloth to provide light, medium or heavy shade. Shade cloth can be purchased at hardware stores and most feed stores and nurseries.
Shade cloth is a great option for chicken tractors! Our neighbors retrofitted some genius shades for their chicken tractors using shade cloth. They attached one side of the cloth to the top of their tractor and attached the loose end to a 2×4 piece of wood. The board weighted the cloth so that it didn’t blow in the wind when it was rolled down over the side of the tractor. It was also easy to roll the cloth around the 2×4 and place it on the top of the tractor when it wasn’t needed.
A similar system could easily be used to create shades that can be rolled up or down for the sides of a chicken run. Or, you can cut and attach the shade cloth directly to the side or top of the chicken run to provide instant shade!