I Know It's Hot When…

…I let the girls out for a free-ranging session and after some desultory scratching they go back into their pens and sit panting in the shade.

Yes, chickens pant. They open their beaks and look as if they are gasping for air. They will also fluff up and hold their wings a bit off their bodies. If you are new to hen-keeping don’t panic! It’s in the 80’s here today, and humid. Hot, but not life-threatening. The hens have what they need to stay comfortable and healthy. They have shade and water. I even put ice cubes in their waterers. Also left a pile of ice cubes on the ground. They’ll melt and give them cool dirt to sprawl in. A fan is blowing on the nesting boxes in the HenCam barn because it gets stuffy in there.

The animal I worry about in this heat is the bunny. While I write this, she is surrounded by hens in the shade (not in view of the camera) on a pile of loose leaf compost under her hutch. The dirt there is cool on her belly. I’ve also put plastic bottles with frozen water in Candy’s hutch for her to lean against. Once in awhile in the summer, when the temperature reaches near 100, I’ll bring Candy inside to enjoy the air conditioning. (She used to be an indoor bunny, and is litter box trained, but she far prefers the company of chickens!)

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