Chickens in Hot Weather aka Hot Chicken Wings

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but… 

STOP giving your chickens frozen things to eat when it’s hot outside.


A chicken's normal internal body temperature is typically 106 degrees Fahrenheit (they range from 105-113*F depending on breed).

Their digestive system is also a lot different than yours as the human chicken tender.


In hot weather chickens DO need:

  • Access to the outdoors
  • Shade
  • A fan if there is no breeze
  • Fresh cool water (make sure to keep the water in the shade so it doesn’t heat up, too).
  • A hydrating treat like watermelon (not frozen) is okay.

Chickens need up to 70% more water during all temperature extremes. Hydration is key on both ends of the spectrum, from hot to cold. Keep in mind their poop may be a little bit more runny as a result of increased water intake, and that’s okay.


While frozen things may be a nice treat for you to cool down in the summer, it doesn’t work the same for your favorite yard birds. Think about it…even when you eat something “frozen” it’s getting melted essentially before you swallow it. Even letting too much ice cream melt in your mouth at once can cause “brain freeze”, and eating ice basically means chewing it and letting it melt on the way down your throat.


Chickens use their beak to break things up, but their digestive system is made to process chunks. That’s why when your chicken eats it looks like it’s grown a tumor on its neck or so I thought when I first got chickens and hadn’t learned they store stuff in that pouch called the crop. Chickens also have a gizzard that grinds food up using little stones your chicken will eat off the ground too. (Bonus tip: If your birds are not free ranging make sure they have access to grit for healthy digestion!) All that to say, eating frozen things is not the same for you as it is for  a chicken! 


Those frozen treats may cool the body down but to what end? If it’s dropping their core temp, their body will appropriately respond by heating up and then you’ve simply exacerbated the problem. Have you ever been outside in extreme weather, like sledding in the snow or spending the day at the beach? Your body acclimates, and as long as you are hydrated you adapt! Now think about hot days running errands…in and out of the hot vehicle, air conditioned stores, and sweat down your back as your body tries desperately to adjust…have you ever gotten nauseous on those days? I have! Going from hot to cold and back and forth is so much harder on a body than staying in an acclimated state (one more bonus tip: it works the same in the winter for your chickens - don’t heat your coop.)

I’ve raised thousands of chickens, both meat and egg layers, and have rarely lost one to heat stroke. I have chickens that are 8 years old and still thriving. Here is the hard part of being a poultry owner: sometimes (always at some point) they die. This is also a normal part of life. I know it’s hard, but if you want a healthy flock, the bird that is going to die at the first sign of summer if it doesn’t get watermelon popsicles isn’t a bird you want in your flock. It’s hard to lose unhealthy birds but it truly is for the betterment of your flock. It also is better for a bird to not suffer by living longer than it otherwise could in a healthy manner with the rest of the flock. 


Carry on, fellow Chicken Tender! You got this! Your birds are stronger than you’ll ever know.
(Pro tip: so are you). 

❤️Mindy



Resources:

Mindy’s over-active brain

https://poultrykeeper.com/digestive-system-problems/digestive-system-chicken/

https://www.hobbyfarms.com/chickens-body-temperature-need-know/ 

https://learnpoultry.com/chicken-body-temperature/

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