28
Jul
08

Dealing with the summer heat


The dog days of summer are upon us. Long, hot, and humid days can be very hard on your fowl, even more so than the bitter cold of the winter. If you free range your fowl, they will find cool spots to relax, and as long as you provide a fresh water source, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about. For those of us who don’t have the luxury of being able to free range our fowl, extra care needs to be taken to keep your fowl safe from the high temperatures. Whether your fowl are in pens, or on cords, there are a few simple things you can do to help keep your fowl cool.

First, and most important is to provide fresh, clean water for your fowl. If it is possible, use a large dish, as your birds will stand in it to help them cool down, and keep it in a shaded area so the temperature of the water itself stays cooler. This will help keep algae from growing in your dishes as well. You may need to replace the water twice a day during severe heat.

Second, provide shade for your fowl that are limited on where they can roam. It is best to provide a well ventilated area instead of relying on your coop, or barrel to provide the shade. If you do have to use the barrels, make sure they are well ventilated for the summer months, or put the barrels in an area with shade from trees. If you raise games, and have a lot of birds on cords, it is a good idea to plant some trees in your yard, (poplar trees are a good choice for some quick shade, as they grow extremely fast). Doing this will also help break the wind in the winter time too. If you have pens, and don’t have shade from trees, you will need to make something to provide shade. If you have small pens, cover them with small tarps, or rolled roofing. Just make sure you leave the sides open so the breeze can blow through your pen. If you have large pens, you can make some tepees, or take barrels and cut about 1/4 off them, length wise, and then cut large openings on each end so you end up with something that looks like a tunnel when you are done. I place these in the pens so the openings face towards where the dominate wind comes from.

Thirdly, provide good dusting areas as you will see your fowl will dig big holes in the summer months to help cool down, and stay pest free. External pests, like mites, can be severe in the summer months, and the added stress of an infestation can be fatal when the birds are already wore down from the heat. This goes for all illness too, healthy birds will be able to deal with the heat better than sick ones. You can even add vitamins and electrolytes to the water, to help keep their immune systems up. If you have kids, don’t let them chase your fowl around in this kind of weather, as it can actually kill them. If you have to catch a bird, try to do it as quickly as possible to keep this from happening.

Do you have any other tricks that you have found to help deal with this? If so, post your comments here, as I would like to hear what some other people have found that works for them! You can find more information about this, and other poultry issues on the Ultimate Fowl Forum!


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