If you’re starting to sweat when the temperature rises, don’t worry; you’re not alone.
Summer can be difficult for all of us, but nowhere is this more evident than in the chicken coop.
Chickens are remarkable in that they can survive in 99 percent of all environments; nevertheless, some chicken varieties are better adapted to higher temperatures than others.
While almost every chicken breed can survive the few weeks of intense heat in the summer, there are several that can thrive in year-round warm regions as well.
If you’re seeking additional information on the most heat tolerant chicken breeds, go no further – these are the 12 best-suited to tropical climates, as well as the finest strategies for keeping your flock cool in searing temps.
How Do Chickens Stay Cool – and What Makes a Heat Tolerant Chicken?
Chickens do not sweat as much as humans do in order to stay cool in the heat, but they do have their own unique cooling processes.
Chickens have capillaries in abundance in their wattles and combs.
These capillaries circulate blood and body heat near the skin’s surface, allowing heat to escape quickly from these surfaces.
As a result, hens with wide combs and wattles are more adapted to warm surroundings — and those with short combs and wattles fare better in the winter (the potential risks and dangers of frostbite aside, of course). Smaller birds will also be better at keeping cool.
Chickens use these tactics to stay cool, but they will also pull their wings away from their body to allow airflow to the areas beneath their wings. They, too, pant.
As a general rule, hens tolerate cold temperatures far better than high temperatures.
It’s unusual to discover a chicken breed that can’t handle the cold – and keeping a chicken cool is considerably more difficult than warming it up.
A chicken’s natural temperature range is 55 to 75 degrees. Anything higher can stress your chickens’ body, especially if the humidity increases above 75%.
An abrupt increase in temperature is likewise more harmful than a steady increase.
Here are some general guidelines to follow when choosing a heat tolerant chicken breed to live in intense heat:
- Choose one with large combs and wattles to help it cool down more efficiently.
- Choose a tiny, light bird with low body fat. Chickens with a lower body mass have a higher surface area to body weight ratio, which helps them stay cool in hot weather.
- Select birds with minimal feathers (particularly feathers in odd places, like on their feet).
- Heat tolerant chickens may have lighter-colored feather patterns, allowing the birds’ feathers to reflect sunlight rather than absorb it.
- This is anecdotal at best, but several heat-resistant chicken breeds are thought to lay white eggs.
What Characterize a Heat Tolerant Chicken Breed?
Many heat tolerant chicken breeds have a wide comb and wattles, particularly the Leghorn, which is well-known for its heat tolerance. Air conditioners are provided by the comb and wattles. Heat is lost as warm blood is pumped to such areas because it is spread over a vast surface area.
When it comes to chicken keeping, heat is arguably the most difficult weather condition to cope with. There are several ways to stay warm in the winter. However, cooling down is far more difficult.
Heat is difficult on its own, but heat and humidity are the worst. Chickens will naturally gravitate toward cooler regions of a backyard and then bunker down during the warmest part of the day.
You can keep your heat tolerant chickens cool by providing shade with plants, trees, or structural overhangs such as decks. Provide a few more waterers during hot weather and situate them in shady, cooler spots. As a result, your chickens won’t have to travel far to get hydrated.
Hang a fan in the coop to encourage air movement, especially on hot summer nights when temperatures don’t drop much. Cool and hydrated treats for your birds, such as chilled blueberries and watermelon, are ideal.
And be careful not to overdo it with them. The more active the bird, the hotter it is!
What are the highest temperatures that chickens can tolerate?
The truth is that most chickens prefer cold temperatures over hot temperatures.
Chickens prefer temperatures ranging from 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature rises above 80 degrees, their bodies get stressed, especially when combined with heavy humidity.
The greatest hazard to your chickens is a rapid surge in temperature rather than a gradual increase.
Heat stress and heat-related illnesses are more likely in temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat causes chickens to perish, and sustained high heat increases the stress placed on the chicken’s body.
The Top 12 Heat Tolerant Chicken Breeds
Before deciding on which chicken breeds to keep, carefully consider your surroundings and weather trends.
In many circumstances, you can invest your time and money in a flock that will be tough throughout the seasons — yet if you live in a location that suffers intense heat for the majority of the year, you might want to consider one of these 12 heat tolerant chicken breeds.
1. Easter egger
The Easter Egger bird is one of the most popular backyard varieties since it lays multicolored eggs in a variety of colors such as blue, green, and pink — you never know what you’ll receive!
However, these hens are renowned for another reason as well: they do exceptionally well in hot weather.
Easter Eggers are sweet, gentle birds that lay up to 280 eggs per year, and you won’t have to worry about production halting in the summer heat.
2. The Orpington
The Orpington is widely considered a classic backyard chicken species, as well as one of the best heat tolerant chicken breeds to raise if you live in a hot area.
Orpingtons are very cold-tolerant, and despite their size, they are adept at adjusting to any environment.
The American Poultry Association recognizes numerous varieties of orpingtons, and they lay an amazing 190 pale brown eggs per year.
They can also be bred to produce meat.
Even though these chickens are bigger, they can adapt to most conditions and come in a variety of colors. Buff Orpingtons are the most well-known variant, although they are not the only ones.
Buffs are placid, family-friendly birds that lay around 200 brown eggs per year.
3. Barred Plymouth Rock
Any Plymouth Rock will do, however, Barred Plymouth Rocks appear to be easier to find.
These heat tolerant chickens lay a lot of huge brown eggs and can withstand both heat and cold.
They are huge and docile, and they adore attention, making them ideal candidates for backyard chicken pets.
4. Welsummer Heat Tolerant Chickens
Welsummer — With the word “summer” in its name, it’s no wonder that this breed does exceptionally well in the heat.
This heat tolerant chicken breed is a pale golden-brown color that is commonly maintained as a dual-purpose bird.
It lays distinctive chocolate-colored eggs (approximately 160 per year) and is a loving, intelligent breed that thrives when allowed to roam freely.
This is another breed that I believe is overlooked in favor of speciality breeds. I’m looking forward to receiving an order of chicks comprising a few Welsummer chicks in a few weeks.
They have the term “summer” in their breed, so we shouldn’t be shocked that they do well in hot weather.
Welsummers have delicate gold-brown feathers and are frequently kept as dual-purpose chickens. They lay up to 200 chocolate-colored eggs every year. If you want speckled eggs from your hens, breed with welsummers!
Otherwise, these hens are considered to be kind and intelligent. They are excellent foragers if you wish to let your birds roam freely.
5. Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red was bred in the northeastern United States, thus it is used to deal with significant weather changes.
It can withstand both cold and hot climates, making it an excellent backyard chicken species.
The Rhode Island Red is a beautiful rust-colored chicken that is also one of the best egg-laying chicken breeds, producing up to 300 eggs each year.
Having said that, this dual-purpose bird is also a fantastic meat producer.
The Rhode Island Red is a productive heat tolerant chicken breed to consider if you are a beginner.
Try Rhode Island Reds if you want cold and heat tolerant chickens. They’re rust-colored chickens who like foraging and prefer to roam free when given the chance. These birds will lay between 250 and 300 eggs every year.
Despite being one of the largest chicken breeds, the Brahma chicken is a wonderful heat tolerant chicken species.
Each hen will provide you with approximately three eggs per week, but this breed can also be kept for meat.
It is noted for having a delicate, sweet temperament and does well when allowed to roam freely as well as when raised in confinement.
These hens, which originated in India, are huge and heavy, weighing more than eight pounds on average.
Brahmas do well in the heat for the most part, but if you’re afraid that the size of this chicken will limit its heat tolerance, consider growing a bantam Brahma instead.
7. White Leghorn
The White Leghorn is one of the most popular chicken breeds grown by commercial egg growers because it is not only a productive egg layer, but it is also quite robust in harsh environments.
This heat tolerant chicken can also be kept for meat, albeit it will not produce as much meat as other dual-purpose varieties.
White Leghorns, on the other hand, begin laying eggs at a young age and do not normally stop as temperatures rise.
They are active, clever hens who thrive when given the freedom to forage for their own food.
White Leghorns are without a doubt among the most popular chicken breeds maintained by commercial egg growers and backyard poultry owners. This breed not only produces a lot of eggs, but it’s also one of the most resilient chickens for cold weather.
These aren’t the prettiest heat tolerant chickens, but they lay eggs at a young age. They have a reputation for being lively and clever chickens.
Have you ever heard of Andalusian chickens? Because these hens are from Spain, they can withstand high temperatures. These are a rare breed that is on the verge of extinction.
Andalusian hens are boisterous, lively birds who like to be free-range, although they adapt well to confinement. They produce a large number of white eggs.
Andalusian heat tolerant chickens, which are grown in Spain, also fare well in the heat.
These hens are extremely uncommon, having been saved from extinction.
If you reside in a warm climate, you should pick one up if you can find one.
These are noisy, active hens that can be maintained in confinement or free-range. They also lay a big number of large white eggs.
9. New Hampshire Red
The New Hampshire Red is a beautiful chicken breed that is mostly descended from the Rhode Island Red and a mix of other kinds.
As a result, it has inherited the Rhode Island’s endurance for a wide range of temperatures and is one of the most heat-tolerant chicken breeds available.
It is a self-sufficient heat tolerant chicken that may be maintained in captivity as well as free-range.
It is a dual-purpose chicken that may be raised for both eggs (three per week) and meat.
Sumatra heat tolerant chickens are tropics natives, thus they fare well in the heat.
These stunning birds have lustrous, green-black feathers that sparkle iridescently in the sunlight.
They are notoriously difficult to tame and also fairly rare, so if you do decide to get one, keep in mind that you will most likely not be raising it for meat or eggs. Sumatras are typically kept solely for display or decorative purposes.
The Fayoumi is an Egyptian heat tolerant chicken breed, so it’s no surprise that it performs incredibly well in the heat.
This chicken is an excellent forager and does well in warm regions.
It has an erect look and can lay up to two eggs every week. As a result, it should be kept as an exhibition bird rather than a production chicken.
It can be flighty at times, so it’s not ideal if you don’t have a tall fence to keep it in check.
Can you keep up with the Minorca chicken, one of the most active breeds of chicken? If you can, you have a very heat tolerant chicken breed.
Because this chicken is native to the Mediterranean region, it has adapted to be able to withstand the region’s high temperatures.
These heat tolerant chickens have close-fitting feathers and will lay a huge number of extra-large white eggs for you.
Minorca chickens, which are frequently raised as display birds, are appreciated for their friendliness – though it should be cautioned that they can occasionally become flighty.
Tips for Keeping Your Heat Tolerant Chickens Cool in the Summer
You can’t control the weather, but you can change the methods you employ to keep your heat tolerant chickens cool in the summer warmth. Here are several ideas to help you keep your flock cool.
Make sure your coop has enough airflow.
This will not only reduce condensation and moisture build-up, which can cause frostbite during the winter months, but it will also help keep the coop from becoming stuffy in the heat.
Make sure your chicken yard has enough shade, either from natural sources (such as trees and the eaves of your coop) or from artificial sources (install shade cloth or hang tarps).
Consider installing a few sprinklers in the chicken yard – this is a wonderful option if you live in an area where there isn’t a water crisis and you want to irrigate your lawn at the same time!
Install a fan in your coop, but be sure it’s intended for usage in an agricultural area. Regular fans can overheat because they become clogged with the inevitably high volumes of dust produced by hens.
A fan will also improve the ventilation of your coop and reduce the number of annoying flies nearby.
Remove or decrease bedding in the coop to the fullest extent practicable.
The deep litter bedding method is fantastic for reducing coop cleaning tasks and keeping your chickens warm in the winter, but it should be avoided in the summer since the heat from the bedding and manure breaking down will warm the coop and make it miserable to be in.
Make sure there is plenty of free-choice water available, and that it is clean. If it’s extremely hot, add a few ice cubes to the water to encourage them to drink.
Make sure you have enough waterers for all of your heat tolerant chickens and consider adding a few more in different sections of your run.
Set up kiddie pools in the poultry coop.
If you have chicks, don’t do this since they could drown. Your chickens won’t go in the pool unless it’s extremely hot, but if you’re concerned about them developing heat-related illnesses, it’s a terrific low-cost solution.
If you don’t have a kiddie pool, any shallow pool will suffice.
Incorporate some electrolytes into the water. Chickens, like humans, lose electrolytes when they overheat. To help refill your birds, add some Rooster Booster vitamins or Sav a Chick electrolyte packets. You can also make your own electrolytes, such as apple cider vinegar.
Avoid much interaction with your heat tolerant chickens
They’ll be grumpy in this heat, and you don’t want to stimulate them too much. If you have toys in your chicken pen, you should take them out.
To avoid using too much energy – which will just make them hotter – they must remain as idle and sedentary as possible.
Don’t overcrowd your coop, and make sure it has adequate bird foraging space. When it’s hot outside, your chickens will become more agitated if they feel cooped up. Wouldn’t you agree? Make sure there is enough space in the coop for roosting, nesting, eating, and drinking.
Make some open-air nesting boxes.
Feeding high-calorie or high-fat foods should be avoided. While it’s a good idea to give your chickens extra goodies during the winter months, such as scratch grain or sunflower seeds, you’ll want to do the opposite during the summer.
As their bodies work to absorb them, these make your chicks even hotter. Feed watery treats instead, such as zucchini, watermelon, or cucumbers.
Cooling herbs such as spearmint, peppermint, and dill can be given to your chickens.
Fill some water jugs with water and place them in the freezer. Hang them in your coop to make your own air conditioning!
Consider employing an evaporator system if the temperatures aren’t too high.
Implement your heat-reduction strategies well before extreme heat strikes – it will be far easier to add more ventilation or shade to your coop and run it before it reaches 100 degrees than it will be later.
Too much panting can induce an increase in respiration and heart rate, as well as acidosis, a deadly condition.
Avoid super-sized meat breeds like Cornish Cross and Jersey Giant.
Be Aware of Heat Exhaustion Symptoms
Long before the summer months begin, become familiar with the symptoms of heat exhaustion. This will prepare you to deal with it as soon as it occurs in your flock. Excessive panting, a pale comb, wattles, or general lethargy may be observed.
Here are some other symptoms of heat exhaustion:
- Separating the wings from the body
- Convulsions and seizures
- Breathing is difficult.
- Feathers that stand upright
- Drop in egg output
- Eggs with thin shells
- Stumbling or limping
- Appetite loss
If you have a heat tolerant chicken that is suffering from heat exhaustion (or simply overall dehydration), get her to a cool place right away.
Dip her legs and feet in a tub of cool water to reduce her body temperature and provide her with plenty of cool water.
You could also give her some electrolytes to restore what she has lost.
One more tip — Consider Meat Breeds Carefully
Because they are so huge, some meat breeds, such as Cornish Cross birds, simply cannot withstand some extreme summer temperatures – their bodies simply cannot cool themselves rapidly enough.
You might want to consider investing in smaller dual-purpose birds or devising techniques to keep these birds cool.
Not sure if you have the resources to assist your backyard flock in surviving the extreme heat?
Consider rearing meat birds during cooler seasons, such as winter, so you don’t have to worry about them overheating.
Because many meat breeds are designed to be raised for a limited time, you won’t have to worry about keeping them cold all year.
If you’re tempted to see if your heat tolerant chickens can survive the summer heat on their own, don’t.
A heat-stressed chicken can not only cease producing eggs and limit its general growth, but it can also become quite unwell — and even die.
Choosing a breed that can withstand the high heat will help prevent these problems, but regardless of the chicken breed you choose, you must provide the necessary care to assist your hens to manage the heat as well.