Hot Weather Care for ChickensAnother great way to care for your chickens in the hot weather, is to give them access to wet earth. Chickens need to regularly dust bath (roll around in the earth, covering their feathers in dirt to clean their skin, feathers and remove bugs). Preening their feathers with their beak alone does not adequately clean their bodies and if you've had little chicks out in the garden, you'll see them dust bathing as a completely natural instinct, whether they've been entirely human or hen raised - they just know they need to do it.
In the heat with the soil baking to sometimes unbearable temperatures, the chickens are less inclined to dust bath. They're obviously very uncomfortable - panting, dehydrating and steaming under a thick coat of gorgeous feathers. For the last couple of years I've helped alleviate this by combining their love of dust bathing with their need to keep cool.
The sand here is not clay based, it's coarse and fine and when it's wet, it does not become like paint (as can be the case with some clay based soils) but lovely and cool and easy for the hens to incorporate into their dust bathing routine. So every day when the weather is hot (35C/ 95F +), I will empty out their water bottles into a designated, cleaned patch of sand (droppings removed, no hen wants to roll around in chicken poo) and later in the day, the hens will scratch, sit and roll in the wet sand. Then I can also then give them fresh and clean water for the day ahead every morning, so I know they've got plenty for the day ahead.
I know that people obtain coarse sand for their chickens if they do not naturally have it in the area they live in. This is a great thing to do is possible. Otherwise I strongly encourage creating wet areas in your chicken pen on a regular basis during the Summer months.
Here are my girls from the previous Summer.
|Holly, singing the praises of the muddy earth.