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How Do Chickens Stay Cool in the Summer?

Chickens don't have sweat glands like humans and so they can't sweat to stay cool. They can't just jump in a pond to cool off like ducks

So chickens can have a hard time when the heat of summer arrives.

But once the temperatures start to rise, they do have some tricks in their arsenal to help them stay cool.

So How Do Chickens Say Cool in the Summer?

In order to stay cool, chickens do several things. 

  • They hold their wings out from their bodies to let the air circulate under their wings and their body heat escape.
  • They pant.  Open-mouth panting also allows heat to escape from their bodies. When you see your chickens panting or holding their wings out, there's no cause for alarm. Sure, they're hot, but they're handling it. 
  • Heat from the chicken's body is released through their comb. That is one reason why chickens with larger combs are more heat-tolerant.
  • Chickens also like to nestle in depressions in cool dirt.
  •  They'll also often stand in a tub of cool water, which is why I highly recommend using tubs or trays for water in the warm months versus a cup or nipple waterer. 
  • Chickens will eat less feed when it's hot but drink more water, so loose, runny poop is fairly common in the warm months.
All natural ways your chickens are trying to stay cool. 

Recognizing Signs of Heat Exhaustion

However, heat exhaustion is a very real thing and can be fatal, so there are some things you should watch for. Signs of heat exhaustion can include the following:
  • Excessive panting 
  • Pale comb and wattles 
  • Standing  with eyes closed
  • Lethargy 
  • Unsteady on their feet 
  • Lying down 

If you suspect heat exhaustion, get the ailing hen into a cool place, submerge her feet in cool water and give her electrolytes to drink. Don't dunk your chicken in a bucket of water, just submerging her legs and feet is sufficient. 

This helps to cool her off safely and quickly, while still allowing her feathers to ruffle in the wind and breeze to get in under the feathers to cool her skin.

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