We’ve been having a heat wave here in New York. Three days (so far) over 90 degrees with no rain.
These are perfect conditions for chickens to get heat stroke.
|Light Brahma hens|
The best course of action is, of course, prevention.
1. Make sure they have plenty of water, check as often as possible. We have 3 extra 1 gallon waterers we put out when it’s hot plus the normal 5 gallon waterer. It doesn’t take a lot for one to get spilled, another gets mostly consumed and then evaporates, ect.
This is important ESPECIALLY if you have ducks (probably also with geese). They will try to bathe in the small channels and either tip over the waterer or spill it all.
|Blue-laced Red Wyandotte hen|
2. Make sure they have a place in the shade. If your birds free range they will find somewhere nice and cool. We have a small grove of trees where they birds like to go. If you keep them in a coop or run make sure they have shade and ventilation. If it’s really hot consider a fan.
3. Keep your birds healthy, sick, over- or underweight chickens are more likely to have problems
4. Consider this before you buy: chickens with large combs use them to help cool down in hot weather. Most of the birds we have here (Wyandottes and Brahmas) have small combs. We did this intentionally because it’s better for our winters, large combs are more susceptible to frostbite. It also means their combs are more or less useless for cooling. Match your chickens to the weather.
Now for heat stroke
I’ve had this happen twice. It’s awful, that’s an understatement to say the least. I hope this never happens to you and you birds.
The first time I had just moved the second ‘batch’ of chicks out with some that were about a month and a half older. I had a temporary separation wall. Long story short the wall was knocked over and I ended up with a pile of chickens. I got to them pretty early and only two were really affected.
|Baby Brahma in seclusion|
The second time was when we moved. About 1/2 of the birds were affected (don’t move in July).
When they are badly affected the birds stretch out with their feet sticking straight out and their head sticking out the other way, they also get stiff.
*** Disclaimer - I am NOT a vet. This is what I have done in the past and what has worked for me***
I have never lost a bird to heat stroke
The first thing to do is cool down the birds. I dunk them in cool (not freezing) water. Rub the water into the feathers, especially under the wings and on the head. You want the skin to cool down.
Try to get them to drink some water. You can put electrolytes in the water if you have them. I usually keep a bottle of pedialyte in the house ust in case.
Keep them separate from the other birds until they are acting normal.
Don’t let it happen again!
Have you ever had a chicken with heat stroke? What did you do?