Statement from the National Weather Service, 5/15/08:
...UNSEASONABLY HOT WEATHER IN SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON AND NORTHWEST OREGON THROUGH MUCH OF THE WEEKEND..AFTER A VERY PROLONGED PERIOD OF ABNORMALLY COOL SPRING WEATHER... THE HOTTEST WEATHER OF THE YEAR... MORE LIKE MID SUMMER... WAS BURSTING INTO SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON AND NORTHWEST OREGON TODAY.. AND WILL CONTINUE OVER THE REGION INTO THE WEEKEND. THIS WILL BE THE HOTTEST WEATHER SINCE LATE LAST SUMMER.
I had a bit of a scare yesterday. My chickens got way too hot. It would appear that our new chicken coop provides only minimal protection from the sun.
I was just about to leave for my son's track meet and wanted to check the chickens one more time. When I went into the coop, it was so stuffy and hot...I looked at their thermometer: 90 degrees! The outside temp was hovering between 93 and 96 degrees. I looked at the birds...they looked listless and a bit stunned. There was virtually no air movement in the coop. Not good.
I spent the next 2 1/2 hours trying to cool the girls down.
Chickens are able to acclimate to heat - as long as it doesn't go from 55ish to 90 degrees in 24 hours. They also need to have good ventilation and consistent airflow (as well as lots of water).
Physically, they have certain techniques for trying to keep themselves cool...
They hold their wings down and away from their bodies. All those feathers tend to be excellent for keeping the heat in, but not so helpful for staying cool:
They pant. This allows them to draw lots of air into their bodies to cool off from the inside out:
They stretch out to get as much air as possible on exposed surfaces of their bodies:
They position themselves in the shade with specific body parts elevated to better cool them:
And, in the case of Dot, they dance:
While they were busy doing all this, I propped open the front doors (fortunately on the shady side) and hung a small fan so some airflow could begin to circulate. I also tacked up a dark towel across the window on the sunny side:
Then I pulled the hose down from the house and sprayed off the top of the coop to try to cool it a bit:
Because it has been unusually cold around here this season, Jim and I had not gotten around to installing predator-proof screens on the windows, meaning I have not been opening the windows -at all- unless I was right there to guard and ward off any bad guys.
So....guess what Jim did when he got home last night:
Look at all those screws he used to keep my girls (and guys) safe:
We got the second secure window screen in place just as the sun was going down:
Funny thing, even though it was still over 80 degrees in the coop at dusk, the girls still insisted on huddling together on their roosts:
The difference was, now there was a nice breeze blowing through.
The forecast says it's supposed to hit 96 degrees today and break temperature records. I'm ready.