Keeping Chickens in Extremes of Weather

» Posted by on Sep 22, 2009 in Raising Chickens | 0 comments

Owning chickens is a great experience, they give you eggs, weed and keep bugs down in the garden and can generally make for fun and entertaining pets.

Although relatively easy to care for,  extra considerations are needed for extreme weather conditions. Some breeds of chickens are more suited to certain types of weather and climates than others so before choosing your hens do some research on what types of hens would be best suited to your area – for example if you have very wet weather a breed with feathered legs may not be the best because they will constantly be dragging clumps of mud around with them, likewise a small bantam breed may not be hardy enough to happily live through very cold winters.

chickensinsnow

Chickens don’t feel the cold as much as we do

Winter In the Coop

A hens natural body temperature is higher than a humans and they can huddle together on the roost and fluff themselves up to trap air in their feathers to keep warm, so although we would be totally miserable outside in a coop in freezing temperatures it is not quite as bad for them as we might imagine. Their own body heat will raise the temperature to a few degrees higher inside the coop than the reading we get outside, and they can be fairly happy at temperatures around freezing (whereas I would be constantly complaining if it were me!)

The main problem in those kinds of freezing temperatures is frostbite to the chicken’s wattle and and comb (particularly those breeds that have large wattles and combs) and having the water freeze overnight. There are heated water bowls and heated pads etc. that can help keep water from freezing. The temperature should only be slightly above freezing though as if you warm it too much it will start to evaporate and that can cause more problems with the moisture in the air which is generally unhealthy for them but can also freeze on their combs and wattles and cause frostbite that way. Their own breath will already be causing some moisture to be in the air which is why, however cold it is, they must always have a well-ventilated coop. Don’t be tempted to try to make the coop as air tight as possible for extra warmth – it is much more important that the coop has plenty of ventilation.

Enjoying the sun

Enjoying the sun

Keeping Chickens In the Summertime

Excessive heat in the summertime period can also be another concern with regard to chicken owners. Again, if you reside somewhere that it is usually warm, or even gets very hot, you will need to ensure that they always have plenty of water available, can get lots of shade, and there is plenty of ventilation in the coop.

Some cold treats such as slices of water melon (straight from the fridge for extra coolness!) can go down very well when the weather is hot. Shaded areas are also very important – they may like to get out of the sun under some trees or bushes. A basic a-frame can be a handy way to provide some shade for them to go under (and also can keep their water under to keep that from getting too warm as well). 2-litre bottles of frozen water can also be left in the shade for them to sit near and get a bit of coolness from.

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