Silkie chickens, with their extra fluffy feathers and docile nature, make adorable and great backyard pets.
However, as temperatures rise in the summer, Silkie chickens, like most pets, may overheat or even die in extreme temperatures.
Silkie chickens can tolerate moderate heat but not extreme heat. Generally, your Silkie chicken’s ideal external temperature should be around 75° degrees Fahrenheit (23° C). At above 85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C), your Silkies may suffer heat exhaustion (or even death) if preventive measures are not taken.
Thankfully, there are a few ways for a backyard chicken keeper like you to tell if your Silkie chickens are overheating and even easier things to do to keep your birds cool, happy, and healthy in extreme heat.
Read on to figure out what to do when the temperature gets too high.
Signs Your Silkies Are Overheating
This is a relatively heat-tolerant chicken breed, but you still need to be on the lookout!
First, it’s important to identify when your gentle chickens are suffering from heat stress.
Since high humidity can make temperatures feel hotter than what the temperature reads, it’s important to identify signs of heat stress early.
Here are four key signs of heat exhaustion in your Silkies:
Heavy Panting and Rapid Breathing
Silkie chickens don’t sweat like humans, so another way to let out heat is to open their beaks and pant.
Light panting is normal, but heavy panting is an obvious overheating sign.
When humidity levels are high, their heavy panting will also be accompanied by rapid breathing.
Ruffled Feathers and Spread Out Wings
Like any other breed of chicken, Silkies will hold their wings away from their body and ruffle their chicken feathers in high heat to regulate their body temperatures.
Imagine wearing a down jacket in summer.
This is essentially what your larger chicken is doing, so exposing more skin to air will help them cool down.
Pale Waddle and Comb, and Droopy Listlessness
Hens and roosters will also regulate their temperatures through their waddles and rose combs.
If you notice your backyard chicken’s prominent comb is white, pale, or shrunken, then it may be suffering from heat exhaustion.
Chicks don’t have this, so they can’t regulate temperature as well.
When overheated, the birds will lack energy and appear lazy and lethargic.
Inactivity, lack of eating, droopiness, and excessive hiding are additional signs of overheating.
Loss of Appetite, Watery Diarrhea, and Less Eggs
Excessive heat will also cause your Silkie chicken breeds to eat less and drink more cold water.
Sometimes a gallon of water won’t be enough!
Loss of appetite is a silent killer, as your birds will lose the essential electrolytes needed to stay healthy.
Over-drinking is common in excessive heat and will sometimes lead to watery diarrhea.
Lastly, all the signs of heat exhaustion above may cause your Polish chickens’ internal balance to be thrown off kilter, leading to lower egg production than normal or even stopping egg production entirely.
If you notice a change in the eggs per week, look at the temperature.
Ways to Prevent Heat Stroke in Silkie Chickens
Provide Deep and Double Shade
Your fowl must have shade to hide under during hot climate times.
What we find helpful is adding double or deep shade.
In addition to the shade of a coop, it will be very helpful to have additional layers of shade, such as trees or tarping, on top of the regular coop shading.
Use Ventilation and Fans
Heat rises, so it’s important to have proper ventilation above each individual chicken coop to allow air and wind to flow through.
We find having a fan with remote control can help keep your fowl cool during the summer.
Giving them roosting bars will also help them get up off the warm ground if needed.
Further Reading: Silkie chickens roosting: Do they really do it?
Give Water, Water, and More Cool Water
It’s important to keep several accessible drinking areas for your bird.
Regularly refill the warm water with cold water, as the average chicken does not like warm water.
Add ice to keep your water cool.
Your Silkies will appreciate this!
Use Evaporative Cooling, Misters, and Duck Pools
It’s important to have duck pools for your chickens to cool their feet down.
Once the pools get dirty, dump them into the ground, adding an evaporative cooling effect your colored birds will love.
Additionally, if it’s not too humid, add a cheap mister to your hose, which will pump cool air for your Silkies to enjoy in the dry heat.
Add Electrolytes to Summer Diets
Avoid feeding your chicken treats with too many carbohydrates, such as corn, in the summer, as these foods tend to overheat them.
For an extra special cooling treat, feed your colored birds (optional: frozen) watermelon, cantaloupes, and leafy vegetables, which will help them retain moisture and stay cool.
Electrolytes will also help them stay healthy in the heat.
A simple chicken gatorade recipe is made from 1 gallon of water, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and a teaspoon of salt.
Rubberband Their Crests
With their extra fluffy crests, Silkies often have trouble seeing, making it difficult to locate water in the heat.
Rubber bands will help keep their crests up and out of the way.
It allows circulation to help cool them down, making it easier to drink water too!
What to Do If Your Silkie Chickens Overheat
Lastly, in the rare case your Silkie birds overheat, provide a little TLC to help them cool down immediately.
While it’s generally not a good idea to wet your Silkies, in extreme circumstances of heat exhaustion, help cool their body temperatures down rapidly by submerging them in a cool bath.
Don’t use ice water, as the extreme temperature difference can cause shock.
Next, remove your overheated Silkie from the backyard flock and move them indoors for a little pampering.
Give them bird gatorade (see recipe above) to replenish their electrolytes and avoid high-protein foods.
Blueberries, watermelon, or frozen vegetables keep them cool and hydrated.
Apples have also been proven to help Silkies with heat exhaustion.
A few days of tender love and care should help your Silkies recover!
We find providing a cooling fan breeze will also help your Silkies stay cool, as they’ll spread their wings to capture some of the cool air.
Silkie chickens make great pets for hobby farms and children.
They’re hardy birds too!
Keeping them cool during summer and inclement weather will ensure they stay happy and healthy.
Related Reading: Do Silkie Chickens Need A Heat Lamp?