Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Beat The Heat

Here, in the South, Summer arrives with a vengeance. And, with Summer just around the corner, we need to take extra precautions for our chickens and other livestock.  Of course, all of our animals need shade.  Make sure they all have several areas to escape from direct sunlight.  We built tee-pees and platforms that our goats use to escape the heat.  We closed in the area under our deck (with horizontal slate panels) and left a door ajar for the chickens.  They take cover under the deck where it is much cooler.  Chickens also need to bathe daily so make sure their favorite areas (their dirt baths) have shade as well.

For our chickens, we freeze herbs, veggies, dried meal-worms and fruits with water in muffin tins.  Pop them out and scatter them around and watch a crowd form.  As the treats melt, the chickens peck at them for a cool indulgence.  We also provide them with cold watermelon slices.  For the goats, we float ice in their water troughs and, also, freeze their apple/carrot treats (chopped into smaller pieces) with water in muffin tins (pop them out and also float in their water).

If you're using fresh fruits, you can also cut up the fruit, stick it in the freezer for a few hours, then feed it directly to the chickens.  Some of the best fruits for this method are bananas, strawberries and watermelon.

Water is good for chickens to dip their feet into but some chickens will not step into water, no matter what.  But, chickens do like to "perch" on things -- so, in your shallow water container, add a brick.  The brick will absorb the water and be cool to the touch.  Your chickens will get the benefit of cooling their feet without setting a single toe into water.  They also like freshly-watered (sprinkler) grass -- just not when the sprinkler is running.

Our Pyrenees and goats will step into their water troughs on occasion to cool off.  Our pig, on the other hand, will submerge himself into any mud puddle, water trough or other body of water he can find, any time.

Add ice to everyone's water a few times a day on the hottest days.  We also have automatic waterers so the water replenishes throughout the day, helping to keep it from becoming hot and stagnant.

If you have plastic gallon jugs and 2-liter bottles, fill them with water, freeze them and place them in the coop and barn.  As the ice melts, it cools the air around it.

Never, ever, EVER give your chickens scratch during the summer months.  Scratch is difficult for chickens to process and it, literally, heats their bodies' core temperature to dangerous levels. 

If, even after all your planning and care, your chickens become distressed, you can administer an electrolyte solution.  No need for buying anything; you can make your own.  This is a quick and easy recipe: 

  • 2 c. Warm Water
  • 2 tbsp. Brown Sugar, Honey or Molasses (I prefer pure raw honey)
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

Mix ingredients together and mix thoroughly until all the  ingredients have dissolved.   Keep the mixed solution refrigerated.   Remember, this has a shelf-life.  Don't keep it too long or use it after it has gotten old.  One thing that might help is to keep containers of the dry ingredients, pre-measured and pre-mixed, on hand.  Then you can just add the water and honey when you need the solution.  Easy-Peasy.

Keep your animals safe, secure and healthy 365 days a year.

To A Life Of Simplicity
Happy Homesteading!
~ Susan & Rick
Celtic Acres Farm

If you have a question or comment, you can leave it below, and I will do my best to respond.  Please keep your comments civil and clean.  I reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments. 

About the Author:
Susan along with her husband, Rick, are the owners of Celtic Acres Farm, an organic, self-sufficient, off-grid farm where they raise chickens, ducks, goats and a pig, rescue dogs and cats, grow their own heirloom, non-gmo produce, create handmade crafts and home d├ęcor items, and strive to live a self-sustaining lifestyle while attempting to carve out that little piece of paradise where they can live free, breathe free and commune with nature.
Celtic Acres Farms is committed to healthy animals, a greener planet, recycling-reusing-repurposing, while maintaining our rural heritage and sharing it with others. We believe that we must all lead the way to a more sustainable future while never forgetting the things of the past. 

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