Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to Tell if Chickens are Hot

This is Sable, one of our very unhappy auracanas. With the temperature hitting 106F, and slated to be that way for much of the week, our lovely hens with extra plummage are struggling in a way that our black australorps, and barred rocks are not. On the flip side, these same hens with extra plummage are the ones who continue to lay in the coldest weather.

How can you spot a chicken struggling with the heat? Sable is doing a great job of demonstrating both the open beak for panting, as well as the "droopy" wings. Chickens will try to keep their wings held away from the body or droop them to try and increase air circulation. I wanted to make sure folks could view a picture of this, since the first time I saw a chicken doing this I thought perhaps they had a broken wing!

The next few posts will high light the methods I like to use to help our chicken flock cope with the heat. Keep in mind that we live in the temperate rainforest that swaths the Pacific Northwest, so not all of our solutions are a perfect fit for every region.


Jacqui said...

poor loves, they really suffer in the heat. We live in a cooler part of Australia but it still gets hot. A few ideas I read online were to hang wet towels around their enclosure but our girls didn't like the flapping. Another one was putting an icecream container in the freezer then letting it thaw out onto the ground so they can stand on it as well as get the cool water. Lots of shade helps too (something we have very little of). I'm not looking forward to summer as I just heard on the radio that it could be our worst bush fire season yet and we had terrible fires in Victoria this year already. Love your Brahama - would like to get some of these oneday...

happy gardening mama said...

Hi Jacqui,

I don't know what your fencing looks like--is it possible you could clothes pin the wet sheet to the fence to minimize the flapping? And you're lucky to have so much wind!

If you had a Brahma, my guess is you would have to take extra measures to make sure they are ok in the high heat. They have struggled more than any of our other hens.

Good luck!

eyecontact said...

We get droopy-wing too in summer!
We have five new babies and five older girls. One of the babies turned out to be a boy! He's gorgeous. A Wyandotte. But we have to send him away because he's getting mean to the hens. :-(
I am sad. I love his blue tail feathers and giant yellow feet. But the hens need peace.
Jacqui: great idea! My hens love cold yoghurt, too.
All the best to all of our little birds.

happy gardening mama said...

Eyecontact--is your roo being mean or is he enjoying breeding? I don't have experience with roosters, so I'm no expert in this area at all.