Heat stress SOS: How to keep your chickens safe and well this summer

It’s great to see chickens outside enjoying the sun on their backs – especially after a long cold winter and a late wet spring. However, as temperatures rise the heat can quickly become too much. Farmgate Product Manager Lisa Mancell shares her advice for avoiding heat stress in chickens.

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Heat stress can occur when chickens experience an elevated body temperature for an extended period. If left unchecked it can quickly escalate to the point where the bird cannot cool itself down, which can lead to organ failure and even death.

Prevention is much better than a cure, and there are several ways to help avoid potential problems with your chickens.


Ensure that your chicken coop and outdoor areas have plenty of shade to shield chickens from direct sunlight. Use the natural shade from trees or hedgerows, or create an artificially shaded area if necessary.

Dust baths

While they can cause unsightly potholes, allowing birds to create dust baths (or providing them with a special place for dustbathing) can help them maintain a comfortable body temperature.


Good airflow is essential for maintaining a comfortable indoor environment for your chickens. Ensure your hen house has adequate ventilation and that any vents are kept open in the warmer months.


Hydration is crucial, especially in hot weather. Make sure your birds have access to fresh, cool water at all times.

Stocking rate

Avoid overcrowding your coop as this can increase body heat and stress levels. Allow your chickens plenty of space to move around freely and keep comfortable.

Feeding times

Feed your chickens in the early morning or late evening when it is cooler, to minimise heat production during digestion.

Keep a close eye on your flock - check them more regularly if possible. Signs of heat stress include panting, keeping wings outstretched, as well as general lethargy. You will also notice a drop in feed intake and egg production. Contact your vet if you are concerned.

By implementing these preventative measures and being vigilant for the signs of heat stress, you can help your chickens stay cool and comfortable during the summer months. A little extra care goes a long way in ensuring their health and well-being.

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