Friday, July 22, 2011

Stayin' Alive: Raising Cornish Cross Broilers in a Heat Wave

Yesterday we lost three of our Cornish Cross broilers due to the 100+ degree temperatures, a sad fate for our fat boys and a frustrating bump in the road for us.  Today we tried several different strategies to help make the chickens more comfortable.

This I actually tried a couple days ago.  Harnessing my inner MacGyver - sort of - I ran a hose from the rain barrels and into a milk jug that I hung from the roof of the field pen.  The bottom of the jug has tiny holes in it, allowing slow drips of water.  I also use jugs like this to water plants.  I'm not sure if it made the chickens grow, but I hope it cooled them off since they ran away when I tried to (gently) spray them.  A friend's mom also suggested spraying down the pen itself so they'll benefit from the cooling effect of evaporation.  I may try to spray the pen and ground tomorrow. 

Today we put a beach umbrella over the exposed roof area, and re-positioned it as the sun moved.

My brother and his wife let us borrow this fan when we refinished our floors, and since we still had it, we ran a cord out to the pen and let it run all day.  All in all, I think this pleased the chickens the most.

Initially, we had wanted to hinge the back panels to allow for cross-ventilation.  It didn't work out as well as we'd hoped, but we still had chicken wire underneath one of them.  So Byron unscrewed the bottom and sides and propped it open.
We are praying that we don't lose any more chickens to the heat (or anything else).  How are you and your animals beating the heat?


  1. We lost one of our chicks to a black snake. We just ordered 50 chicks - I hadn't thought about the heat getting to them so much. Hopefully we'll be able to set up the pen in the shade and find other ways of keeping them cool. They are scheduled to come the first week of August.

  2. Our chickens have been really suffering in this heat too. The turkey is taking it the hardest though. That poor thing pants like a dog!! I think the fan is a great idea. And I've thought about spraying their pen down too. It's just TOO HOT!