Hot Weather Preparations

Although I’m always asked about how to care for chickens in cold weather (don’t they need heat? and what about snow?) after twenty years of backyard chicken keeping, I can tell you that your flock will weather cold weather just fine. (It’s all about good coop design and management. See here.) I wish, instead, that people would ask, How will my hens do in the heat?. The answer to that is that chickens get heat stressed. When it’s too hot, and they don’t have cool water, they can die between the time you leave for work and the time that you get home. I’ve written a FAQ about hot weather care for your flock. Read it now, so that you are prepared.

Although nights here have remained cool, and we haven’t had any extreme high temperatures yet, that heat wave could come at any time. We’re prepared. Steve has put up the shade cloth. We take it down in the winter so that the hens get as much sun as possible, but it goes up in the spring. The fabric is designed to block sunlight, but let water and air circulation through. You can purchase these at home stores, or find a supplier on-line to make a custom size for you. They last for years, and it is a very good investment for your coop.



As soon as all danger of freezing is past, provide outside waterers. Chickens would rather drink water outside in the pen than go into the coop for a drink. To keep them hydrated I keep both the inside and outside dispensers filled. The Ladies empty that plastic waterer in just two days. (The red ceramic feeder contains grit which they eat when they need it. Free-choice grit is essential for your hen’s ability to digest food.)

shade and water


Veronica says that all of this is quite interesting. She’s ready to sunbathe.



  1. I like the shade cloth idea. With respect to water, we just purchased (online) a very inexpensive and well-made nipple waterer attachment from BriteTap. We love it and it can be used on a ceramic water dispenser (I hate keeping water in plastic). This way, the girls have a totally clean, high volume source of water that lasts a lot longer. It’s new to us but I think it will be particularly good for the summer. They learned how to use it really quickly and seem to really enjoy pecking at ti…it gives them something to do!

    • Let me know how it goes for the next month. I’ve heard good things, but also some people have had problems with breakage. Check daily to make sure they’re actually working.

  2. Just an FYI. Just strained out my citrus vinegar. I had no idea those rinds could soak up that much vinegar! I made a mess. :D Next time I’m doing it over a bucket or large bowl! The grapefruit smell came across perfectly! I can’t wait till my kitchen sprayer needs refilled. My daughter is hinting quiet loudly (even though I squirted her in the eye while she held the strainer) that I would be a perfect mother if she could take it with her this weekend when we move her to Philly (sniffle). I will probably share (I made about 3/4’s of a gallon), but there is no way she gets it all! :D

  3. Your backyard is nothing short of a playground. How do you ever get anything done. It’s beautiful, interesting and scientific. Life everywhere and oh so peaceful. Your animals seem part of our family too. When Doc or I speak of them, the children know who they are. Thanks for sharing them and letting them be part of our lives. Veronica is one of my favorites. I love her inquisitive nature. She’s very photogenic to boot. Happy D-day Little Pond. If any of your followers are veterans, thank you.

    • My late father served in England, doing secret radar work. He was shipped over before we officially entered the war.

      • How honorable he was Terry. I find that very interesting. Incredible the strategies and secrets the military carry out by great men like your father. Would have liked to have known him and listened to his stories. I would say you must be proud, but you just said it.

  4. Terri, what do they call the shade cloth at the home stores, so I dont look like to much of an idiot when I ask. I give them frozen kale and watermelon in the summer heat.

  5. Veronica does seem to be inspecting Steve’s handiwork! :-)

  6. Terry- we take very similar precautions here in Denver. Our city hens LOVE the hose. Fortunately, we have only a few weeks of 90+ hot weather. Cool evenings help keep coop temps down. However, I’m wondering during the heat of the summer if your ladies ever wish to sleep under the stars in the run? Or do you always get them into the coop for safety reasons?

    • If they slept under the stars they’d be eaten up by fisher cats or raccoons. Both creatures can rip off hawk netting. The fishers can shred chicken wire. Also, minks can slip through a 2-inch gap. So, into the coop they go!

  7. Dear, Terry,
    I´m sorry to write to you here, but I didn´t find your email address.
    I´m a post-graduation student in Brazil, and I work with chicken behaviour, especially dominance hierarchy (peck order). I´m not going to bother you with details of my project, but I need some light on a problem I´m facing. And, as a reader of your blog for a long time, I was wondering if you could help me. Each group of chickens will have 6 hens and I need to know who layed each egg. Problem: they´re all White Leghorns. So, it´ll be almost impossible to identify which egg belongs to which hen. I thought about giving them some colorfull chemical product that will pass to the egg, but I don´t have idea if that really exists or if it´ll be harmful to the girls. I thought about trying to feel the egg on the vent region and then lock the hen at some cage until she lays. But there´ll an amount of 100 hens and it´ll be impossible to have all that work every day for months.
    So, do you have some idea or know about someone who can help me?

    Thank you and forgive my english.


    • Hi Renata, interesting question! I’ll email you. To email me, all you have to do is to click on the “contact Terry” rectangle at the bottom right.

  8. At Pierce College in Woodland Hills (which holds the record for hottest temperature in L.A.) they provide the hens with plastic bottles full of water, frozen solid. The hens seem to enjoy sprawling next to these!

  9. Is the tarp on top of the netting or underneath the netting?

  10. Love the pic of Veronica on top of the ladder. I just discovered this site and called my son in to watch the hencam which we are enjoying. I must say I got a fright though while we were in serene chicken watching mode and all of a sudden a bunny (which had been hidden behind a log) stretched itself up into a sitting position. I have recovered now and am going back to chicken watching. Being in Australia, our chickens are asleep right now.