I live in the desert and it’s HOT! Ridiculously hot. It’s very common for the temps to stay in the triple digits for weeks with a couple days break (and by break I mean 98°) then back up to 100° plus.
Having a small farm this has been one of the hardest problems to over come. You have no control over mother nature deciding to bring the wrath of hell to your doorstep, but there are things to do to help take the edge off.
Out of all my animals I have which include chickens, turkeys, rabbits, ducks and geese, my waterfowl handle the heat the best. For obvious reason being they love the water. I keep a large kiddie pool in their pen and keep it filled with water. I have to clean it quite often but it keeps them happy and cool. Last year I attempted to create a duck pond. Liner, rocks, filter and all. It was an epic disaster. I tried all year to keep it clean and water flowing, but it just proved too difficult…so..much..duck poop! In the future I fully intend to try again armed with more knowledge and better ideas, thank you pintrest! But for now, kiddie pool it is.
The chickens are pretty easy to keep happy as well. Through the years I’ve hatched most of my chickens myself so they were born in the heat. My run is also shaded most the day by a large Mulberry tree. In the spring I planted pumpkins and melons and trellised them along the fence line provide lots of shade and yummy treats.
The hardest of all have been my rabbits. Their long thick fur makes the heat more difficult for them. My first year having rabbits I hung a queen size sheet on top of the run and thought the shade should be enough. Unfortunately temperatures spiked and I lost a rabbit to heat stroke. I learned the hard way I needed to do more.
This year we hit 90° in May and I was not prepared. My sister-in-law and I scrambled to provide an escape for our animals. She came up with the brilliant idea of a mister system. We decided to save cost and try to install an actual drip setup to our runs. She installed hers first and got to be the guinea pig. About a week later she helped me install mine. We used 1/4 inch drip hose and attached it to a 1/2 inch hose that was connected to a hose timer. We bought drip mister heads and installed 5. The timer allowed it to turn on 3 times a day and it really helped keep things cool.
After about a month I noticed a problem. In order to keep it cool all day I had to run it almost all day. This left the pen a gross muddy stinky mess. I tried trowing straw down to help, that was fun to clean. I then tried planting barley grass to maybe use up the water and that was also a fail.
So I broke down and bought a rope mister. Amazing difference. It kept it even cooler and used less water. It connected to the hose time just as my drip line did. I was even able to run it for most of the day without the previous problems.
It’s been a month and I’m in love. My rabbits are happy and cool and even sit in the mist from time to time. I’ve had no losses this year due to the heat and I’m extremely happy about that.
The temps should be dropping down withing the next month and like myself I’m sure my animals are looking forward to the cooler season. For now, it seems like I’ve found a way to beat the heat.