Today in Melbourne we got a bit of the heat we expect during summer with a temperature of 40ºC. This is the hottest weather the chicks have yet experienced and I was a worried mother hen. I kept braving the outdoor elements to see what they were up to and making sure they weren't doing that heat-stressed thing where they sit panting with open wings. They seemed pretty happy and had sat themselves in the dirt under the fig tree. I thought the dust-bathing business was for grooming but I wonder is it a cooling thing as well?
I'd read that a little spray from a water mister is a good idea and Eldest Monkey Boy was very keen to try it out (on the chicks and his little brother). So we did. They didn't much like it, but didn't put up too much of a protest. Then I thought I could probably make that fig tree spot a bit cooler with some shade cloth. But I'd forgotten how freaked out these chicks get at new things in their environment. When they saw me enter with a big green shadecloth monster they started flapping and squawking and running about - in the sun. Well I was determined to finish what I'd started and sweated about with some pegs and erected a bit more shade. By this time those chicks had retreated to their shed and were all hot and panting and giving me the evil eye. Except for Goldie (see I've named two of them now - Wonky and Goldie. Not very inventive names I know but I don't want to put thought into naming them and get all attached and then have to give one away because she is a he. Actually, maybe I should re-name Goldie to Naughty. She's always under my feet and up to mischief and the last to do what I want.)
Anyway, Goldie/Naughty was running back and forth along the front of the wire shed trying to find her way to her mates inside. But the door was RIGHT THERE! Two more steps you stupid bird! I could name her Dopey but the truth is I've seen all these chicks do the same thing. Running in a desperate frenzy trying to get back in but not remembering where the door is and not seeing that it's two chook steps past the post they're stopping at.
|See the door - it's right there!|
So when Goldie/Naughty finally found her way back in she was stressed out and had probably reached boiling point. I irritated them all a bit more by giving them one last squirt and let them be.
They've survived. Does anyone else have any tips for chickens on a hot day?