Texas summers are notoriously miserable and this summer does not disappoint. It seems we are constantly under a heat advisory with temperatures reaching 107. Though we have yet to lose a chicken to the weather, the chickens look miserable most of the time, panting and holding their wings out. Chickens don't sweat and they stop drinking water when it gets tepid, so we do a few things to make their lives better in this awful heat and help them stay hydrated.
1. Watermelon - this is by far their favorite way to cool off. When watermelon is on sale at the store I buy one or two and keep it in the fridge. Once it's cool I cut it up and put it out in the hottest part of the afternoon and the chickens eat all the red and white meat and leave a sliver of a rind. They cool off and gets lots of liquid at the same time.
2. Cheap fan - There is a small portable fan in the corner of the coop. Then hens fight on the roost at night to get in front of it and it keeps them from getting overheated when laying eggs or eating.
3. Hillbilly Air Conditioners - Refilling empty 2 liter drink bottles (or similar containers) 2/3 full with water and freezing them is pretty easy. Placing these in the coop allows the chickens cool spots they can be near or sit against to cool off. The same containers can be reused several times.
4. Chicken bath - I used the top of a birdbath left here by the previous home owner and a slow dripping hose to create a little bird bath on the ground. The dripping provides fresh water, drips a bit on the ground for cool mud the hens love, and provides a cool spot in the run. Sometimes the hens even stand in it to cool off.
We have mixed the juveniles with the hens (they kept sneaking in and out of their run anyways) and now our (their) biggest problem is hen pecking. They are not kind to the little ones and keep them from the coolest spots in the yard.