DIY Chicken Coop Plans That Add Shade
How to Keep Chickens Cool in Summer
Are you sifting through chicken coop plans, looking for the perfect back yard coop? Have you considered how much shade is available for your flock during the heat of summer? Chickens tolerate cold temperatures much better than heatwaves. Providing shade in your chicken coop plans is essential for a healthy flock.
Providing shade to keep your flock cooler will offer the following benefits to your flock.
- Reduce heat stress. Look for chickens that are panting, and holding wings away from the body.
- Reduce flies. Flies love heat and sunshine.
- Result in better egg production during summer months.
- Keeping water in the shade will increase water consumption. Extra water intake will keep the chickens cooler, too.
- Shade adds a protective cover from aerial predators.
Easy Shade Options for Chicken Coop Plans
A few ideas can be easily incorporated into your chicken coop plans. Look for areas in your yard that are naturally shady. Locating the coop under a deciduous tree provides shade during the summer growing months. When the tree drops it’s leaves for winter, more sun will filter through, adding warmth and light to the coop and run during winter months.
Even one tree, partially overhanging the chicken run will provide shade and cooling. Adding more than one shade area for larger flocks will cut down on bullying and pecking order related issues.
Incorporate Things You Have on Hand
Quick fixes can provide shade for the chickens. These ideas might not be the most visually appealing but they will provide shade in a pinch. Setting up a folding table, using a large beach umbrella, adding a downed leafy limb from a tree, or tacking up shade cloth over a corner of the run, will all provide shade.
For a more visually appealing garden look, consider building a shade structure in or near the chicken run. Adding something to your garden that also provides shade for the chicken coop plans is a great way to double your return.
Add a Trellis to the Chicken Coop Plans
A trellis gives climbing plants a foundation to grow up, instead of along the ground. Planting any vegetable or flower near the coop, and training the plants to climb, provides a natural shade cover. I’m sure the chickens won’t mind if a cucumber, grapes, fresh peas, or nasturtium flowers occasionally drop into the coop for snack time.
Any low hanging veggies will supplement whatever you use for summer chicken feed. Be sure to only plant fruits, vegetables, and flowers that are safe for chickens to munch on. You could also try hops, honeysuckle, sunflowers, and luffa gourds.
How I Created the Trellis
I used a section of livestock fencing and allowed it to bend from outside the run over the open area. This allows me to plant vegetable seeds out of reach of the chickens, train the vines to grow up over the area, providing shade. Note that this project should be started during the spring planting season, to ensure optimal growth before the heat of summer. Using perennial plants that regrow year after year is a great idea.
Quick and Easy Pergola
Pergolas are free-standing shade-providing structures with an open roof area. The pergola provides shade but does not provide protection from the rain. An alternative to a pergola in the chicken coop plans would be a pavilion. Both the word Pavilion and Pergola sound rather upscale for a chicken coop, but they are easily constructed.
- (4) 4 x 4 – 8 wooden posts
- (4) 2 x 6 – 8 boards
- 1 Piece of lattice (or you could use tree limbs to form a lattice top)
- Screws and a drill driver
- Posthole digger or shovel
Directions for Adding a Pergola to the Chicken Coop Plans
Start by measuring the distance between the four posts and marking the areas for the post holes. For this structure, you will need to space the posts 7 feet apart in a square configuration. This allows overhang of the roof support boards. Dig the holes, and backfill the dirt to secure the posts.
Add the roof support boards to the top of the posts.
Attach the piece of lattice to the top of the frame.
Covered Pallet Porch
A pallet in good shape provides a wonderful porch or roof. Air can circulate under the porch as well as around it. Shown is how Ann from Afarmgirlinthemaking.com provided shade for her flock using a tree stump and a used pallet.
In addition to shade, frozen treats will help cool your flock. Just about any frozen vegetable or fruit will be welcomed. My favorite easy idea is to chop up leftover fruit and vegetables and store them in the freezer. When you have a couple of cups of chopped ingredients, add them to a bowl of water and freeze the bowl into a big ice cube.
Serve the frozen treat in a large pan or directly on the ground, in the shaded area. The chickens will peck away at the ice block to get to the fruits and vegetables. Instant cooling effect!
Add a Foot Bath
Using a plastic kiddie pool, or large livestock feeding pan, fill partially with water. Keep this in the shade so that the water does not get too warm. The chickens will stand in it to cool down if they feel overheated. This is also a good quick first aid if you find a chicken suffering from heat stress.
Keeping your flock cool and comfortable during the high heat months will reduce stress on their systems, promote good health, and keep egg production going.
Originally published in the August/September 2020 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.