When summer rolls in, you might notice signs of heat stress on your chickens — which is almost just as distressing for us chicken keepers as it is for our chooks!
Even if it’s not so hot, you may just be looking for fun accessories to keep your chickens occupied in your backyard or in their run.
Here we address whether chickens like kiddie pools, whether it’s for swimming in and entertainment, or whether they will use it on a hot summer’s day to cool down.
Do Chickens Like Kiddie Pools (For Swimming Or Cooling Down)?
As much as I would love to see my chickens flapping around and enjoying the cool water in a kiddie pool, unfortunately, chickens naturally won’t use it this way.
Even if it’s an exhaustingly hot day and you can see the signs your chickens are too hot, their natural reaction will be to sit in the shade, hold their wings apart, and pant, rather than jump into some water to cool off. It’s just not in their instincts to do so.
This doesn’t mean you can’t encourage your chickens to use the kiddie pool in hot weather though, as you can give your chickens a cool bath to bring their temperature down if it’s too hot for them.
How To Use A Kiddie Pool To Cool Your Chickens Down
If it’s a blisteringly hot day and your chickens are struggling then it’s perfectly safe to cool them down by offering them a nice cool bath. A kiddie pool is actually a perfect vessel, here’s how to use a kiddie pool to cool your chickens down:
- Clean your kiddie pool thoroughly, as you don’t want any bacteria, viruses, or parasites to be present when you’re cooling your chickens down.
- Fill your kiddie pool so that it’s shallow enough for your chickens to stand in, with the water coming up only to their belly.
- Use cool water, but not cold water, as you don’t want your chickens to suffer any stress from the drastic change in their body temperatures.
- Place your chickens in the pool slowly, ensuring the water only reaches up to their belly. Never fully submerge your chickens to cool them down – they will regulate their temperature through their legs!
Will Chickens Swim In A Kiddie Pool?
There have been sources where chicken owners have supplied their chickens with a kiddie pool for entertainment, to have some of their chickens use it occasionally. However, in my experience, and through talks and research through the wider chicken-obsessed community, chickens will not normally use a kiddie pool for anything but drinking out of!
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that chickens are not too fond of swimming and see the kiddie pool filled with water as a water source rather than an object for their entertainment.
You also don’t necessarily want your chickens drinking out of the kiddie pool, as it’s much more likely to contain harmful bacteria than their regular waterer, as that gets cleaned and refilled more often, and contains less water.
If you’re raising your own chicks, just be aware that baby chicks cannot swim, and you should do everything in your power to keep them away from ponds or pools!
Other Ways You Can Cool Your Chicken Down In Summer
If you do have a kiddie pool but your chickens aren’t using it to cool themselves down (which is expected!) then you do have some other easy options you can use to help your chickens regulate their body temperatures.
Hydrating Chicken With Fruit
It’s absolutely crucial to keep a steady water supply during the summer. We recommend putting more than one bowl and topping them with cool water every few hours to make it as appetizing as possible for your chickens.
If the pecking order is an issue in the coup, distribute the bowls all over the place. This ensures that all birds will get a drink!
However, chickens can be a bit stubborn sometimes. They won’t always drink enough water even though they are clearly dehydrated! Try incorporating fruits and vegetables with high water content into their diets instead.
Here are some ingredients that you can use to sneak in some hydration through meals:
Giving Chicken Frozen Snacks
If you want a quick way to cool down a chicken, try giving it frozen snacks. I use frozen strawberries, but any frozen chicken-safe fruit or vegetables will do!
Some chicken owners even report that they put their normal chicken feed in the freezer for an hour then give it to their chickens to help them cool from within when they consume it.
Letting Chickens Out In The Rain
There is very little risk of harm to your chickens if they stay out in the rain, plus some chickens even like the rain!
The only risk is if the temperature outside is cold, then the rainwater can actually make your chickens too cold, or risk chicken frostbite.
But, if it’s a nice warm day, then a little bit of rain will actually cool them down by evaporative cooling, similar to how sweat works – as chickens don’t produce sweat themselves.
Other Toys For Backyard Chickens
If you’re looking to provide your chickens with entertainment (or yourself entertainment by watching them) then a kiddie pool does sound like a good thought. The problem is, even if you put it in their run or in the backyard, they won’t really use it except for drinking out of or perching on the sides.
But, if you are looking for a chicken-friendly toy, then you can always look at chicken swings, ladders, or other perch, or even simply hanging treats up so they have to jump and get them. This encourages exercise in your chickens too, which is a great way to keep your chickens from getting overweight.
In an ideal world, chickens would use kiddie pools to cool themselves off or to simply play around in for entertainment. However, as we all know chickens can be very unpredictable.
It’s likely that a few of your chickens may use it, but it’s more likely that they will simply drink from kiddie pools or sit around them than actually go swimming or cool themselves down in it.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t use a kiddie pool to cool down your chickens yourself, as it’s actually a great vessel for it as it’s not too deep and is wide enough to accommodate your birds!