Choosing the best chicken breeds for your climate can be a big decision. Most people are concerned about their egg layers in cold weather, but many chickens actually adapt to cold weather far easier than to hot weather. Just as there are things to do to ensure your flock stays warm in the cold, there are things you need to do to protect them from the heat too.
Chickens are happiest right around 75 degrees F. Happy layers, nice and healthy. Start getting to far over 75 degrees and things start to change – over heating, no more laying eggs, and even death can happen in extreme cases.
Best Chicken Breeds for Hot Climates
If you live in a naturally hot climate, there are a few breeds that you may want to consider. Lighter weight hens are typically best, but there are a few heavier breeds that adapt well too. Here are some of the best chicken breeds for hot climates.
- Leghorns (which are amazing layers)
- Minorcas (a Mediterranean breed)
- New Hampshire Reds (which also do well in cold weather, so may be a good choice for those with hot summers and cold winters)
- Rhode Island Reds (very reliable layers that also do well in cooler climates)
- Fayoumi (an Egyptian breed, so you know they can handle the heat!)
- Welsummers (“well- summer”…)
Don’t completely write off other breeds not mentioned on this list. With the right help, there are many others that can survive the heat as well, although egg production may drop a bit.
Tips for Keeping your Chickens Cool
- Make sure they always have plenty of water. Encourage plenty of hydration by adding sunflower seeds to a bowl (tub) of water.
- Avoid corn. Corn takes a while for chickens to digest, so it causes them to produce more body heat.
- If you want to treat your flock, try fruits and vegetables. (Mine love watermelon!) Berries are a great option too. There’s a fantastic video in our subscriber library on how to make warm weather treats for your chickens to keep them cool.
- Make sure your coop has plenty of ventilation. Adding a fan for circulation is a possibility, but make sure that wings can’t get caught in blades, there are no exposed electric wires, and if inside the coop, keep the motor clear of dust, which can cause a fire. I choose to avoid fans (I’ve seen way too many coop fires to make it worth it!) and just make sure there’s plenty of natural ventilation.
- Shade is a big deal. Ensure the run has plenty of shade. I always tried to make sure my dust bath was shaded in the summer time, either under trees or with a sunshade. (Sunshades are designed to still let air and water through, but block the UV rays.) It was always entertaining to see my girls stretched out laying on their sides in the cool soil they’ve dug down to.
- Some people spray down their chicken run. I’ve often seen my girls cooling their toes in puddles. Just make sure they have the option to avoid the water if they choose. Wet feathers trap more heat than expel it.
- For really hot days, consider giving your flock their own pool! A kiddie pool with an inch or two of water makes a great place to cool off. They’ll jump right in if they want to.
For the most part, your chicken breeds know how to cool off naturally. They were designed that way, but with these couple tips, you can give them the best chance of surviving the summer heat!
Herbs for Chickens
In addition to keeping chickens cool in warm weather, there are herbs that can help your backyard chickens stay healthy all year long. Click here to learn about some of the best herbs for chickens and how to use them.