Chickens can handle cool weather way better than warm weather. High temperatures can cause a drop in laying or cause the hens to lay soft eggs. Chickens can also suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. You can help your chickens beat the heat by what you feed them in the summer. I use these 9 summer treats for chickens to help my flock cope with the high temperatures!
Chickens do not have sweat glands to help them cool off, instead, their comb and wattles help them release heat. The bigger the comb a chicken has, the more heat tolerant it will be. During high temperatures a chicken’s blood will automatically flow to the comb and wattles first to cool it off, this could ultimately draw blood away from the chicken’s vital organs. Chicken will also pant and hold their wings away from their body to help cool themselves off.
By keeping your chickens cool you can prevent . Providing a shallow pan of water that they can walk through or stand in is a great way to help them cool down their feet and legs. Frozen water bottles placed around the coop can also help the coop from reaching too high of a temperature. What you feed your chickens in the summer can also help keep them cool and happy. Here are a few that I give to my flock and how I use them!
Benefits: Cold watermelon is a great treat for chickens during the summer and they absolutely love it! Watermelon is mostly water, which will help a chicken stay hydrated. It also helps prevent heat stroke and is full of antioxidants.
Use: More than likely your chickens will love watermelon however you serve it to them, cut in half or slices. They won’t even mind if you just provide them with the rind after you have removed the flesh for yourself!
Recipe: Watermelon Soup- Cut a watermelon in half and scoop out the flesh. Puree the watermelon flesh in a blender with some mint leaves and ice cubes. Pour the soup back into the watermelon rinds and serve to your flock in the shade!
Benefits: Mint is naturally cooling and soothing. It aids in digestion and helps hens lay bigger, better quality eggs.
Use: Usually my chickens do not self serve themselves on my mint plant. Instead, I usually mix it into other summer treats or just place sprigs of it in their water.
Recipe: Mint Ice Cubes- Pick sprigs of mint and place one sprig in each compartment of an ice cube tray. Fill the tray with water and freeze. Pop out the ice cubes and place them in the chicken’s water.
Benefits: My chickens love berries, all kinds, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries. Berries are very nutritious. They are good source of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
Use: Chickens will eat berries right off the bush, so you don’t have to do too much convincing to get this nutritious snack into your chickens! I give my chickens any berries that I don’t eat after I go berry picking. Frozen berries are a great summer treat and my chickens will eat the frozen berries right out of a dish! I also use them as berry ‘ice cubes’ in their water.
Recipe: Fill an empty plastic suet container with berries and water. Freeze and than give it to your chickens in a dish or hang it up!
Apples (without the seeds)
Benefits: Apples make a great summer flock snack as they are mostly made up of water. They are also another fruit that is packed with antioxidants. Apples help keep the immune system healthy and even detoxify the liver!
Use: I like to string up cored apples for my chickens and hang them in the run, especially on rainy days to use as a boredom buster. If you really want to make a delicacy for your flock, you could mix up a fruit salad with apple slices, watermelon, and berries! Just make sure when you give your flock apples that you remove the seeds, which contain small amounts of the poison cyanide. A few apple seeds here and there won’t be too harmful, just don’t feed them in large amounts or too frequently.
Recipe: Stuffed Apple- Cut the core out of an apple, making sure not to puncture the bottom. Fill the apple with sugar free peanut butter and raisins. Hang the apple in the chicken’s pen and watch them enjoy! *Note: This should be only a special occasion treat, as too much peanut butter could easily make a hen fat.
Benefits: Another water laden snack, cucumber can also provide a host of important vitamins like A, B, and C! It is 96% water so it is a great food to keep your flock hydrated! Cucumber also helps detoxify and improves feather quality!
Use: You can string up a cucumber much like an apple for your chickens. They also like it when I cut the cucumber in half length ways so that they can easily pick out the seeds.
Recipe: Cucumber Garland- Cut up a cucumber into circle slices and thread them onto a string. Hang it up for your chickens to enjoy!
Benefits: Oats are an excellent source of protein. They are also rich in B vitamins, calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, and zinc.
Uses: My chickens love it when I sprinkle whole oats in the yard for them scratch around for. I also add them right into their feed every other week when I make them my natural feed supplement.
Recipe: See my post Homemade Chicken Feed Supplement
Benefits: Yogurt is a great cold treat for chickens. It provides a great source of calcium for strong egg shells. It is also a rich source of probiotics which help keep the digestive system healthy.
Uses: My chickens will go absolutely crazy for plain yogurt. Often times they get it all over each other and me! I give it to them in dishes and than stand back. Yogurt is a treat that you don’t want to feed too frequently as it could cause diarrhea. Also, only offer plain yogurt, as flavored yogurt (even vanilla) contains too much sugar.
Recipe: Berry Yogurt- Mix up some flavored yogurt for your flock by adding some fresh or frozen berries to some plain yogurt!
Benefits: Just like leafy greens are beneficial for you and me, they are also nutritious for your chickens! Leafy greens are packed with nutritious vitamins, especially vitamins A and K. They are also a good source of magnesium and potassium.
Use: My chickens will help themselves to clover and dandelion leaves while they are free-ranging. I also give them pieces of lettuce, spinach, and kale that I don’t want to eat. One of their favorite leafy greens is kale! Hanging a clean bird suet cage in their pen and filling it with leafy greens is a great interactive toy for chickens.
Recipe: Leafy Green Salad- Fill a bowl with a variety of leafy greens (leftover lettuce, dandelion leaves, clover, etc…). If you have any vegetables available, top the salad with veggies like cucumber slices, ripe tomatoes, or carrot peelings. Sprinkle on some unsalted sunflower seeds or dried mealworms to add some protein to the salad. Last of all, top the salad with apple cider vinegar as a salad dressing and serve to your flock!
Benefits: Adding electrolytes periodically to your flock’s water can help them retain water better and keep them hydrated.
Use: I would advise providing electrolytes to your flock no more than once a week. Make sure your chickens are drinking the electrolytes as well because sometimes chicken’s will not drink water that has a different taste. My hens seem to enjoy their electrolyte water.
Recipe: Homemade Electrolytes- Ingredients:
- 1 cup of water
- 2 teaspoons of sugar (I use unrefined cane sugar)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
Instructions: Mix the ingredients together and add 1 cup per gallon of fresh drinking water.
These summer treats for chickens are sure to keep your flock happy, healthy, and hydrated throughout the summer! Have some summer fun proving nutritious, beneficial snacks for your flock!