Keeping your pets warm in winter and cool in summer is one of the best ways you can help them stay healthy. But this is often easier said than done. Traditionally chicken coops and rabbit hutches have been made from wood. This has its advantages: it’s an easy material to work with, it’s customisable and it looks attractive. However, when it comes to coping with the weather, it can leave a lot to be desired. Wood is not a very good thermal insulator, meaning if it’s hot outside the temperature will transfer through to the inside quickly.
Perhaps surprisingly, a much better thermal insulator is air. But how can something so thin that you can’t even see keep our pets comfortably insulated from the elements? It’s precisely because it’s so thin that it’s so effective. Heat is conducted between an area of more heat to an area of less heat by one of three processes: conduction, radiation or convection. In conduction warmer molecules vibrate rapidly and collide with other nearby molecules passing on that energy. If the material that the heat is trying to pass through has few molecules in it then it will be harder for the heat to transfer through it. This is precisely what happens if you have a warm surface separated from another surface by a layer of air.
Because air is not a good conductor it is commonly used as an insulator in everything from buildings (double glazing, cavity walls) to cooking utensils, drinking flasks and even the high tech chicken coops.
Eglu chicken coops have a unique twin wall system that takes full advantage of air’s great insulating property to keep your pets comfortable all year round. Within the walls of the Eglu is an air pocket which acts as a barrier, stopping hot and cold temperatures penetrating into the inside of the house, so your chickens can stay warm in winter, and cool in summer.
The Eglus also feature a draft-free ventilation system designed to increase the air flow throughout the coops, keeping chickens at a comfortable temperature. These air vents are discretely located around the coop, and specifically designed so they do not allow drafts over the nesting box. A well ventilated coop is not only beneficial for keeping chickens cool, but it is also extremely important for preventing your hens from suffering with respiratory issues.
For evidence of the Eglu’s cooling properties, take a look at this video showing how much slower an ice lolly melts when inside the coop…
Did you know that chickens can’t sweat? Instead, chickens use their legs, combs and wattles to lead heat away from their bodies. They also pant and spread their wings in order to get some air through those feathers. Chickens also enjoy lying down in the shade when it’s very hot, and of course they drink lots of water. Did you know that it is actually easier for chickens to keep themselves warm in winter than it is for them to cool down during the summer? It isn’t just an issue of comfort either – chickens can die of heatstroke. Since chickens have a hard time cooling themselves down, when it gets extremely hot they rely on you to help them. So, what can you do to help your chickens keep cool in the summer heat?
Here are our 7 top tips:
Eggs consist mainly of water, so producing an egg absorbs a lot of water from a hen’s body. Drinking cool water is also one of the main ways in which chickens cool themselves down. Your chickens will therefore need lots of fresh, clean and cool water in the heat of the summer. It’s best to change the water every day to make sure they have this. It is also a good idea to provide several water sources so all your chickens can drink at the same time and don’t have to fight for access and end up dehydrating.
Another way you can use water to help your chickens cool down is by providing some shallow pools where they can dip and cool their feet and legs, remember that this is one of the areas where heat leaves their bodies. Try filling some shallow bowls or tubs and leaving them around in the run or your garden. If your chickens don’t like to stand directly in the water you can try placing a brick in there which will be cooled by the water and which the chickens can then stand on top of.
It is absolutely essential to provide shade for your chickens and even more so when it gets really hot. If you let your chickens free-range in the garden they might be able to find shade under trees and bushes but in any case it is a good idea to provide shade in the run as well. You can easily create shady spots in the run for instance by having a raised coop and/or attaching covers to the run.
3) Treats and Feeding
Try giving you hens some cool treats such as frozen berries, vegetables or pieces of fruit. You could even create hanging treats by freezing your chickens’ favourite treats in an ice cube tray with a string in the middle so they can hang in the run. Or try keeping a whole watermelon in the fridge to cool it down before serving as a summery treat.
Be careful not to give your chickens too many treat though, as you want to make sure they eat their layers pellets. Chickens eat less when it’s extremely hot because digestion produces more body heat, so it’s important to make sure they eat the right things and get the vitamins and minerals they need. Try feeding your chickens during the cooler parts of the day such as in the evening. See tip #4 as well.
4) Nutritional Supplements
It is a good idea to give your hens some nutritional supplements in the heat such as vitamins and tonics which can be added directly to their food or water. These can improve absorption of minerals, give your chickens a boost to improve their overall health and help them cope better with the heat.
Apple cider vinegar, for instance, can help with calcium absorption in the body which is essential for egg shell production.
5) Dust Baths
Chickens love to dust bathe in the warm weather, but you might not want them scraping around in your flower beds. The best thing to do is to build another flower bed (but not for your flowers) and fill it with some sand, soil and some louse powder. If you have a large flock you might even want to provide several spaces so all your chickens have a chance to dust bathe in the shade.
Make sure that you place the dust bath in a sheltered spot or cover it up when your chickens aren’t using it otherwise the rain might turn it into a mud bath.
Your chickens will need plenty of space during the hot summer months so make sure they aren’t overcrowded. It will be even hotter for them if they are crowded too closely together. Chickens need to be able to spread out and spread their wings for ventilation, and everyone in the flock needs to be able to drink cool water and lie in the shade at any time.
7) Cool Coop
All Omlet Eglu chicken coops have a unique twin-wall insulation system which works in a similar way to double glazing. This means they do not overheat in the summer. They are also built with a draught-free ventilation system, carefully designed to avoid air blowing directly over the roosting area whilst allowing fresh air to circulate.
If you have a wooden chicken coop, it is important to think about how you can keep the coop nice and cool for your chickens. Make sure you create plenty of ventilation either by opening windows in the coop or by using a fan. Be careful not to have too much thick and heavy bedding as it absorbs heat. Also keep an eye out for mould if you’ve got a wooden coop. Mould can make straw and hay start to rot faster, thereby producing more heat, so make sure you clean out the coop regularly and especially at any signs of mould.
If your chickens are reluctant to go into the hot coop during the day to lay their eggs you could try providing nesting boxes for them outside in cooler, shaded areas.
Many of us would agree that there are few things nicer on a hot summer’s day than a trip to the beach, and as long as you come prepared there is no reason to leave your pooch at home. Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for dogs, and you can stay as long as you like without having to worry about getting home to let the dog out!
There are however a few things you need to do before you leave, and some things that are good to know when it comes to dogs and the beach. Here are our best tips for a successful outing!
Find a dog-friendly beach
Dogs are not always allowed on public beaches, but there is normally an area close-by where you can take your dog. Search for a dog-friendly beach nearby, read up on the rules, and make sure you follow them!
Keep an eye on your dog
Even if you’re at a dog-friendly beach you must always keep an eye on your dog, and show consideration to the other beach goers and dog owners. No one appreciates being sprayed with water from a wet dog as they’re relaxing with a good book! If you’re not absolutely sure your dog will come when you call or stay close to you, it might be best to keep it on the lead.
You also have to make sure your dog stays safe at the beach. Dogs are amazing at finding things in the sand that might not be good for them, everything from leftover barbecue ingredients to rotting fish. Glass, sharp shells, or even old fish hooks may hide in the sand, and can hurt your dog’s precious paws.
Teach your dog to swim
Many believe that all dogs know how to swim, but that is not the case. Even if all dogs will automatically paddle their feet if you put them in the water, there are several dog breeds that aren’t built to stay floating. Breeds with large heads and short legs will struggle to keep their head over the surface to breathe. If your dog seems to love swimming but you’re not completely sure about their ability, it might be a good idea to invest in a doggy life jacket. That being said, there are lots of dogs that don’t really enjoy the water, or who will be perfectly happy running around in the shallow parts where they don’t have to swim. Never force a dog to come swimming with you!
Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, it’s important for you as an owner to keep an eye on them as they’re out in the water. Make sure you stay informed about currents in the water, and don’t let the dog in if there are high waves or lots of boats or jet skis around. Dogs can easily get too excited in the water and swim out into deep waters, where the current might be much stronger. You also have to supervise dogs playing and swimming with children.
Make sure you pack everything you need for a day at the beach. Dogs will need plenty of fresh water, so get enough for the whole family. It’s a good idea to have a collapsible water bowl, so you don’t have to make your dog drink straight from the bottle. This way you can also keep track of how much water the dog has actually had. Bring toys that will entertain your dog throughout the day. If you’re able to throw balls or other toys down the beach, that is a perfect activity that will entertain your dogs, and give it a good amount of exercise. Just make sure the toys float if they end up in the water.
If you’re staying at the beach for a few hours, or maybe even the whole day, it’s important to make sure the dog can get some shade. If you’re not sure whether there are shaded areas where you’re going or not, bring a parasol or a small beach tent where the dog can relax during the hottest hours of the day.
Before you leave
Make sure you leave nothing behind, and clean up after yourself and your dog!
If there are taps or beach showers where you are, you might want to rinse your dog before you leave for the day. Salt can cause irritation to the dog’s skin, and sand can get in their eyes as they’re trying to get rid of it from their faces, which can cause eye infections and lots of discomfort. The dog will probably also have been exposed to plenty of dirt and bacteria during all the exploring. If you can’t find any fresh water at the beach, it might be a good idea to scrub your dog with a towel before you get in the car (maybe mainly to not end up with a desert in the boot), and then give him or her a quick bath when you get home.
I get asked this question A LOT, and the answer is yes plastic chicken houses do get hot in the heat, but so do wooden ones. Just because a chook house is made from plastic it doesn’t mean that it will heat up more and boil your chooks.
With the Omlet Eglu houses they are double insulated, which means that they keep the inside of the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Now to clarify the double insulation in summer does not mean that your chickens will be living in a fridge! It is probably around 5 -10 degrees cooler in the house versa outside depending on where the house is situated. (more…)