Meet Parcha (means “passion flower or fruit”) a new addition to the homestead menagerie.
We got a call from a distraught family wanting to place her in a good home asap! Parcha was part of a flock of 5 until the recent heat wave. Four had passed due to heat stroke. Poor Parcha! But now she’s in happy hen company.
Within in two days, we experienced a massive case of “weather whiplash” with a 40 degree swing in temps. From cool gloom (67 degree high) to scorching (110+degree high). When extreme heat strikes, one has to keep a close eye on the welfare of the homestead animals and flocks.
Don’t let this catastrophe happen to your flock.
How to tell if your hens are being stressed by the heat.
Gasping, panting and listlessness, spreading of wings, no eating and drinking, diarrhea — then you know your hen(s) are in immediate danger.
Our friends were away on vacation for a few weeks, so they had a house sitter watching their home and small flock. Midway through, Jordanne checked out the welfare of the chickens as she had promised. That that day was hot-AND-humid. As she opened the side gate and approached our friends’ coop, she could hear and sense something was seriously wrong. She heard what sounded like wheezing – not good! The chickens were experiencing severe heat stroke – they were collapsed and gasping. If she had arrived any later, they would have been dead.
The owners had build a perfect coop and compound. They had shade, they had water; however, person taking care of the chickens had been filling up the waterer. But what he hadn’t noticed was the chickens had dug around the waterer so they could not longer reach the water! Jordanne went into 911 rescue mode, grabbed a hose and started hosing down the compound to cool off the hens. One was in severe shock and she put the hen’s feet in water and poured water over her waddle and comb. It was a close call but all hens made it through!
Place cool water in the shade. Put ice cubes to cool off the water if it’s too warm.
Provide juicy vegetables or fruit – like tomatoes, melons, cucumbers– to keep them eating and hydrated.
If you are in humid climate, provide misters if you can. We don’t have misters but have a hose with mister nozzle. During the afternoon when temps are at their hottest I’ll go and mist the air above the compound.
Leave an area of loose (cool) dirt for the hens to dust bathe in.
In summer months, feed a lighter “less grain” to help preserve a lower body temperature – lots of fresh greens, fruits and vegetables.
It’s not only during the day do you have to worry about heat, but nighttime, too, when they are pent up in a coop. Make sure you have a well ventilated coop (windows or vents with a secure small WIRE mesh) to allow for cooling air flow.
Some folks install fans, or you can put gallon jugs of frozen water in the chicken coop.
For cases of severe dehydration:
1 Cup Water
2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
Use full strength ONLY on severely ill chickens, can also be mixed into their drinking water every few days as needed. Dosage: One cup homemade electrolytes per gallon of water
What other “hot weather” tips for hens do you use on your homestead? Care to share?