Every year in the summer I see new chicken owners wondering how to keep chickens cool. We live in southern Arizona near Tucson. It gets very hot here every year for about three months. So far we have been successful at keeping our chickens alive in the heat. There are a number of techniques that will work to keep chickens cool. In my experience it is best to make as many layers of cooling as you can to keep them healthy.

We are currently experiencing a heatwave with temperatures above normal. When I was taking pictures for this post our weather station said the temperature was 110 degrees F. I checked two thermometers I have in the chickens run to see what they showed. The one that is mostly shaded showed 110 degrees F, and the one on a 2×4 in full sun showed 120 degrees F.

An Infrared Thermometer Gun is a great tool for monitoring temperatures in and around the house. I used that to check the temperatures in our chicken run. All the photos I show with temperatures are going to be ground temperatures. They will vary quite a bit from the air temperature. Since chickens are low to the ground that is the temperature they will be experiencing.

How to Keep Chickens Cool

As I mentioned there are a number of techniques that we use to keep chickens cool. Here are the ones we use in the order of ease of use and the impact they can make.


Shade is very important in the summer. You should make your chicken run in a way that there are sunny and shady areas. They do need sun for egg production, but if they are in the sun all the time they will cook in the heat. To show the dramatic difference between full sun sun and shade, I took these pictures of the temperature 6 inches apart.

The ground temperature in the shade was 4 degrees less than the air temperature even though it was only 6 inches from the 145 degree F area. That was the most drastic difference I could find in our chicken run.

There are different levels of shade. I call them light and deep shade. Light shade is often provided by trees or bushes. It breaks up the sun and makes it less intense. Deep shade is when there is no sun light coming through. That is provided by solid objects like buildings or roofs.

For light shade we have sun shade cloth on the top of the run. There are different types and they will have a percentage listed on how much sun is blocked. We got ours at Home Depot awhile back and I think it is 70%. It does do a good job of lowering the intensity of the sun and reducing the temperatures under it.

Deep shade can be provided by a variety of objects, so long as they block the sun. When I was originally building the chicken’s run, I made a covered area to protect them from rain. That spot has also been invaluable in protecting them from the afternoon sun. I have put things in the run to give them places to stand on and to provide shade if they go under them.

There is scavenged pallet, a dog house, and a plastic toddler slide in the run. All of those provide deep shade at different points of the day. The covered section of the run is made out of cheap plywood and that provides the best and biggest section of shade. The ground temperature under the roof was 88 degrees F even though the air temperature was 110 degrees F. The green siding you see in one of the pictures is from a jacuzzi that was at the house when we moved in. It makes a nice strip of shade in the late afternoon.

If all you do is add good shade you will make your chickens’ lives better. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. Found objects will work perfectly well so long as they are aligned to block the sun during the hotter parts of the day.

Water Pool

Chickens don’t sweat so they cool through the parts of their body that aren’t covered in feathers. This means their combs, feet, legs, and under their wings. An inexpensive way to keep chickens cool is to provide a shallow pool of water to stand in. If it’s in the shade that pool will stay cooler. We use medium mixing tubs from Home Depot, they cost only $7.88 each at our closest store. You could likely use a children’s wading pool, but I like how easy the mixing tub is to dump out at night. The water does need to be changed out regularly because they will poop in it and then drink it. The water in the tub in deep shade was an impressive 34 degrees less than air temperature.

Water Misters

If you have a faucet near your chickens, a water mister is a great way to provide a cool area. Misters can reduce the temperature by up to 30 degrees in the right conditions. In our dry weather I find that it is usually up to 20-25 degrees cooler in the mist. I have a timer on the faucet that turns the misters on from 12:30pm to 5:30pm. The chickens love standing in the spray and getting wet. I put the misters near the deep shade area because it’s already cool there so the effects are greater. The temperature under the mister was 72 degrees F. I’ve recently upgraded the misters to the version shown in the picture, but there are easy portable misters you can get on Amazon or at Home Depot.

Frozen Treats

We like to freeze vegetable and fruit scraps in ice as a way to keep our chickens cool. The ice temporarily makes the area around it a little cooler, and eating the frozen treats helps to cool the chickens down. We keep 32 ounce yogurt containers and use those to make the ice chunks. Those containers seem to hold up well to being frozen repeatedly. For our quail, we usually put a few of the ice chunks on the ground and they sit next to them to feel cooler. This provides temporary cooling and should be used as a supplement to the other methods.

Coop Setup

I don’t want to get too far into this topic in this post. I do see people posting online about their chickens all dying in the coop during extreme heat. Its important to make sure your coop doesn’t turn into an oven in the summer. A small coop filled with chickens can heat up a lot, a larger coop that gives them space can really help keep chickens cool. I made ours tall enough for me to easily walk around in and I am 6 feet tall. I also didn’t put in flooring. I dug out the dirt about 8 inches so I could put a cement block foundation for the walls. Our bedding is pine flakes on dirt. That helps keep the temperature down because the dirt is cooler. Having good airflow is also important, if the air doesn’t flow through it will become deadly hot inside the coop.

If you are thinking of getting chickens its important to plan out how you will protect them from the weather. If you already have them it is possible to keep them cool in the summer even in extreme heat. Using these areas as a guide you can keep chickens cool and make them happy and somewhat comfortable all summer long.


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