Hot Weather and Chickens

I’ve been hearing from many of you concerned about how your hens can cope with the heat. I complain when the temperature here hits 80º F. That’s nothing compared to what my friends in the southwest are dealing with – triple digits day in and day out! You’re right to be worried about your hens. Heat stress kills.

Heat affects some hens more than others. If you live in a clime and are thinking about getting chickens, select a breed appropriate for your area. For example, as charming as the fluffy cochins are, this breed has too many soft feathers. It’s like if you walked around outside with a down coat on all summer.  Also, they go broody, which means that they’re more likely to hunker down in a stuffy coop than to find a shady cool spot to hang out in. I know. Here is Pearl. She has just roused herself from her broody daze and is having her morning walk-around before going back into the nesting box.



On the other hand, Misty, the Andalusian, is suited for hot summer weather. Her big comb dissipates heat. Her sleek body and few under-feathers protect her from the sun without unduly insulating her. I’ve never even seen her pant.



Twiggy, like Misty, is designed for handling hot weather. She’s a Leghorn. Despite the August temperatures, she continues to remain active and lay eggs.



But, even if you have an entire flock of these trim Mediterranean breeds, you still have to feed, water and manage the environment to keep your healthy and safe. I have a FAQ that provides lots of tips for easing heat stress, like this one about feeding watermelon to keep your hens hydrated. Please read and share!

hens eye watermelon


  1. I’m using a mister by our coop. The girls don’t seem to mind it and although it would be better in a dry heat like Arizona, it does lower the temp by a few degrees. We’ve had temps in upper 90’s for weeks now and no rain for 39 days. So maybe it IS a dry heat.

  2. A few summers ago when we had heat in the 90’s and extreme humidity here in Central Ohio, I took a few old loaf pans and filled them with water then stuck them in my freezer. When they were frozen I popped the frozen blocks out and put them in wide narrow bowls in the runs and the chickens loved it! I even had a leghorn who would stand in the dish in the melted water and ice for hours. Worked like a charm. Also, found a blog site to make a frozen wreath filled with nuts and treats made with a bundt pan and that was pretty fun, too! It hasn’t been as bad this summer but have now added a white tarp over the coops which lets sun in to some degree, but not the UV rays.

    Love your frozen veggies suggestion. Have to dig in my freezer and see what I can give them. Thanks for your great suggestions!

    • When it’s really hot, limit the nuts and corn, etc. as those generate heat in the animal’s body. Otherwise, great idea!

  3. I have a concern, I give my girls cucumber, toms, apples and frozen peas, they also have a large area of grass which they eat. If they eat a lot of other bits as well ( they have a large outdoor area ), how do I know if they are eating enough pellet ?

    • As long as the vegetables you give your hens are whole, it will take them awhile to eat and they’ll eat other things as well. If you think they might not be eating enough pellets, you can wait to give them treats until the afternoon. They’ll eat lots of pellets in the morning. Also, make sure that the food is somewhere that they like to be. If it’s hanging in the dark, they won’t go inside to eat. Another reason to have windows in the coop.

  4. Oh my gosh, that watermelon looks so good! For many years, I raised several different breeds of Australian Grass finches (Lady Gouldians, Owl Finches, Strawberry Finches, Parrot Finches, etc.), and I used to put a large terra cotta saucer of water with ice cubes floating in it on the floor of their huge cage. They would spend hours ‘ice berg hopping’, flapping around in it, and would manage to stay soaking wet for most of the day. I think it prevented quite a few heat deaths. I spent many, many hours watching birdie behavior, courting rituals, nest building, chick raising and silly play activities. I still find it –and all animal behavior– riveting!

    I know rabbits are extremely prone to heat stress deaths, and had all kinds of crazy schemes to keep my dwarf bunny (a pet shop rescue who was being sold as Python food…don’t ask) cool. What do you do for Phoebe or does she manage on her own. Her cost is so glorious.

    • Check my FAQS – I have one on keeping a rabbit with he hens and I talk about that. Short answer – the barn has a concrete floor which is cool. She stretches out on it. We’ve tried frozen packets and bottles. She doesn’t like them. She does dig a cool depression in the dirt in the compost. And she has shade. One year it was so hot that I brought her inside for a few days.

  5. Never had a hen die of cold but they have died because of the heat.
    If possible a fan in the coop in the window blowing out.

  6. It got 106 today in Dallas. I have a fan on my chickens, change their water, give them watermelon, yogurt, anything to keep them cool. I have 6 milk jugs full of water that I freeze at night and put them in their run during the day. My chickens dig down in the dirt right by those jugs. They still pant, but I have bought some breeds that do better in the heat. Good luck!

  7. You had a visitor during night, there was a pair off bright eyes staring through the far side of the run on outside cam
    about size of medium dog, ( fox possibly ). Glad you’re well secured. :)

    • Also just seen something about size of weasel running around on hencam. Its amazing how many critters are around at night.

  8. I agree, that watermelon looks tasty! I have a rind in the fridge and plan on halving it to give my little ones. I’ll put the rest in the freezer to save for later. The heat has been a challenge with little ones. They still need a bit of heat at night. Our temps swing wildly in WNC. Take yesterday for example, by 10 am it was around 84 degrees and getting warmer, then we had a rain storm and it dropped to 73, then went back to around 80 and HUMID then overnight dropped to 62. Lots of cold mountain well water, refrigerated squash, weeds and bugs gathered in the morning is what they have been getting.