Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cooling the Hens

In the month of June, we had thirteen days over 90 degrees, which is more than we usually experience in an entire summer. Additionally, we've had less than an inch of rain. Unfortunately, the extended forecast indicates no relief.

So how do we keep the girls cool? It's important to provide shade for chickens. My girls follow the shade around the chicken yard as the sun moves through the day. They scratch a depression in the dirt and cover themselves with dust, wallowing in the coolness of the soil. They have an area behind the coop with a low covered roof so they can always find protection from the sun and predators.

Water is especially important during a heat wave. We provide three open drinking bowls and refill at least twice daily. Daisy the Delaware has discovered that she enjoys standing in the large water bowl. It's comical, but she won't allow photographs. We decided to take the hint, and we placed a garden trug in the chicken yard with an inch or so of water. They seem to enjoy hanging out at the beach, drinking water and wading to cool their ankles. (Really? Chickens have ankles?) 

Our best discovery this summer has been to water the chicken yard. We're not the kind of folks to waste water on grass, but the ground is terribly parched, cracked and hard as concrete. Spraying water over part of the chicken yard gives some relief for the hens, allowing them to scratch and peck for bugs. It may even reduce the air temperature just a tiny bit due to the evaporation.

It's normal for egg production to decrease in extremely hot weather. As long as the girls survive the heat wave, we'll be happy farmers.

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