A hen pecks at cooling summer greens, turning it into compost.

Chill Chicks

A hen pecks at cooling summer greens, turning it into compost.
One of our hens pecks at cooling summer greens.

Sitting in a spacious coffee shop, fans wafting cool air over my skin, I’m glad the chickens are also comfortable back home.

Yes, home, back in the land of 34°C and a beating QLD sun, that world outside the glass coffee shop doors. We humans can travel to any (caffeine-supplying or otherwise) microclimate we choose, so it’s important to remember the feathered ones who are laying our breakfast.

And if you’re into permaculture, tilling our veggie patches.

I read an article recently with great advice on keeping chickens cool in summer, from diet to telling if your hen is overheating.

So instead of smoothies, this morning my thoughts turned to chicken insulation. I knew there was a tarp under the house, and it took me five minutes to transform the chook run from desert to shaded courtyard.

A tarp provides the hens with shade.
A tarp provides the hens with shade.

As you can see, the tarp-turned-shade cloth is suspended by the stake tips that form the fence. At midday it gives a lot of shade, while the rest of the yard is baking hot. It can be that simple.

I’ve also been putting ice cubes in their water bucket, as well as garlic (a ‘tonic’ for chickens), and giving them plenty of cooling greens.

Greens! And other goodies, three times a week, from a local organic shop. It’s fun to see what pours out of the black bags as we empty them onto the fallow veggie patch. Old vegetables, fruit and coffee grounds become free compost, as the chickens work it into the soil.

Other methods include misting the coop (I chased them round with a misting spray bottle for a few days before realising that this was counter-productive), giving the hens frozen greens, putting in a baby bath, and burying frozen gallon jugs in the hens’ favourite dusting places.

It’s dropped a few degrees in there.

Have fun creating a summer habitat for your hens!

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