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My chickens are heat stressed.

They are panting, digging holes into the ground, spending almost all day under the coop, and laying very few eggs. Out of 23 egg layers (also a roo and 8 pullets), I am averaging 3-4 eggs a day. This has been over the past month, when the heat index crawled above 95 consistently every day. Before that, I was getting 15-18 eggs like clockwork.

The coop is on wheels, with hardware cloth bottom and vented top with an open walk-up ramp door. There's plenty of ventilation. I add blocks of ice to their nipple water around noon, which keeps it cold for the hottest hours. I also fill up a baby pool with water for them to wade in. They get plenty of food, the coop provides shade, and the waterer is filled at all times.

The run is in an area that gets direct sun all day. The chicken coop is part of my gardening system, and there's no way to move it (or them) under a tree. Since it's lifted 15" off the ground, and made of roofing metal, it does provide some shade.

With that said, what can I do to keep them cooler than they are? We'd been selling eggs to break even on food, and now we're in the red on them.

Things we can't do, and why:
- Provide a mister, since humidity is already past 80%
- Get them under a tree, because I am not set up for that with my land layout
- Kill 'em all, because I already have meat birds and another freezer would be too much $$.

So, what CAN we do?
 

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Seriously, wait for the temps to drop. There isn't a whole lot you can do that you aren't already doing. When it gets this hot, they slack off. Happens with dairy animals too. They give less milk when it is really hot. Just be glad they aren't dying on you. That indicates that they are doing ok. If they start dying from the heat then you would need to come up with another place to keep them where they would have more shade. The only thing I can think of off hand is putting some sort of fan for air flow.
 

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Depending on how big the coop is, if it is totally exposed to the sun all day long that roof may only offering shade for part of the day....and metal can heat up terribly and radiate that heat into the coop/run.

Maybe you can rig up some shade cloths coming off the roof (or even over it) on either or both sides of both coop and run to extend the area of shade?

The heat and the panting and wing spread can be alarming(it has been for me), but as long as they are still moderately active(moving to eat and drink) they will probably be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Seriously, wait for the temps to drop. There isn't a whole lot you can do that you aren't already doing. When it gets this hot, they slack off. Happens with dairy animals too. They give less milk when it is really hot. Just be glad they aren't dying on you. That indicates that they are doing ok. If they start dying from the heat then you would need to come up with another place to keep them where they would have more shade. The only thing I can think of off hand is putting some sort of fan for air flow.
Yeah, my cow is under a gallon this week. No deaths, and they all look perky. I started ice and pool yesterday, and I got six eggs already today - double from earlier in the week!

aart said:
Depending on how big the coop is, if it is totally exposed to the sun all day long that roof may only offering shade for part of the day....and metal can heat up terribly and radiate that heat into the coop/run.

Maybe you can rig up some shade cloths coming off the roof (or even over it) on either or both sides of both coop and run to extend the area of shade?

The heat and the panting and wing spread can be alarming(it has been for me), but as long as they are still moderately active(moving to eat and drink) they will probably be fine.
There's airflow under the coop, and it actually feelers cool in and under it. A shade cloth is an idea - thanks for that. Need to noodle with making it a reality. But yes, aside from the wing droop and the heavy panting, they eat, drink, and are otherwise seemingly merry.

Thanks to you both!
 
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