Ruffled Feathers: Chickens Swelter in the Heat

Chicken feathers could be compared to a down jacket - imagine wearing that in 90-degree heat!

It’s not always easy for us to stay cool in these hot temperatures. Now imagine trying to survive the heat while basically wearing a winter jacket all the time.

For chickens in Suffield, they’re panting their way through another sizzling stretch this summer.

“It’s really difficult for the chickens in the high heat,” said Kathy Shea Mormino, the self-described "Chicken Chick."

Kathy showed us the chickens that enjoy a nice setup in her backyard.

But the flock isn’t really well suited for this "fowl" weather.

“Chickens have a high core body temperature that ranges between 104 degrees and 107 degrees. So it’s like a full 10 degrees hotter than you and I,” said Kathy.

On top of that, Kathy points out chickens are basically wearing a down jacket and do not have sweat glands.

The key is trying to keep them cool. There are fans and lots of windows in the coops.

Plus they can spend plenty of time in the shade and drink from an icy special mixture.

“You want to keep them hydrated. So to stave off heat stress or heat stroke we will put vitamins and electrolytes in their water. Same as you might have Gatorade or similar,” said Kathy.

From appearances the chickens seem better equipped for winter.

Though it’s hard to find out which season they like better.

“I do talk to my chickens. They don’t talk back. They actually fare quite well in cold temperatures,” said Kathy.

It turns out chickens lay fewer eggs in high heat.

We’re told that’s because their focus is on survival not reproduction.

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