A plentiful supply of water is never more essential to the basic survival of chickens than in hot weather. Since chickens do not have sweat glands, they rely on evaporative cooling techniques to give off body heat and regulate their internal temperatures. When the mercury hits the mid 80°F range, a chicken will begin to pant and spread its wings away from its body in an effort to dissipate body heat. At that point heat stress causes water consumption to double or quadruple and the danger of heat stroke and death are very real.
Whatever chicken keepers can do to keep chickens hydrated on hot days is encouraged. I make this frozen fruit smoothie ice ring for my chickens to help them beat the heat and they love it! When water is added to the ice ring, POW, Pullet Punch! Not only does the icy cold water encourage hydration, it gives chickens a natural sugar boost during energy-sapping weather when feed intake declines.
Any fruit can be substituted for those listed- this is less a recipe than a fun technique. Of course, vegetables can also be used, but…personally, I prefer sweet treats to pureed veggies on a hot day.
Freeze a metal pan or plastic container of any shape (I employed the bunt pan I use when I make our family’s annual Christmas punch ice ring because it’s the only pan that fits in my freezer.)
Place some sliced strawberries and/or strawberry hulls on the bottom of the frozen pan and place pan in freezer. (this ensures that the strawberries will be visible on the top of the ice ring after unmolding.)
In a blender or food processor, place one of the fruits or mint and cover with as much water as desired. Blend until liquefied and set aside. Repeat this step with each remaining ingredient.
When the strawberries are frozen to the bottom of the pan, add strawberry puree to the pan and freeze until solid.
Repeat the blending process with each remaining ingredient. Add mint leaves and/or chopped fruit in between layers of puree.
A NOTE ABOUT CHICKENS & MINT
While we think of mint as refreshing in hot weather due to its mouth-feel, it does not, in fact, have cooling properties on a chicken’s body temperature. Not only does mint NOT reduce a chicken’s body temperature, they do not even perceive the minty mouth-feel we feel due to their extremely limited taste buds. Chickens have approximately 250 taste buds compared to a human’s nearly 10,000!
So, certainly there is no harm giving chickens mint, but do not suffer the false impression that it is helping lower their body temperature. It will not.Unmold ice ring by submerging the pan half way in a pan of warm water. Place ice ring in a large bowl of water and let the chickens have at it.
**NOTE** When the chickens have had their fill of Pullet Punch, remove it from the yard so as not to attract flies! Have a fly problem already? Check out this article on my blog for more than 15 tips for controlling flies around the chicken coop.
Another frozen treat that does double duty as a protein-packed summer snack is Scrambled EggPops! Get the DIY instructions here!
For MUCH more information about how to help chickens beat the heat, check out this article on my blog!