Chickens are experts at regulating their body temperature during cold winter months. A fluffing up of feathers and they're done, even in the most extreme freezing weather.
Heat is a different matter. They're not good at keeping their body's heating system under control when the temperature soars. Poultry don't have sweat glands but depend on losing heat through their wattles and combs.
And sometimes, that's just not enough.
They're still just about comfortable at around 24ºC (75ºF) but anything over that and they'll start to feel uncomfortable. Once the dial hits 30ºC (86ºF), they need help to remain at a safe body temperature.
By the time the temperature reaches 32ºC (90ºF) they'll be at serious risk of over-heating. If the weather remains hot and they get no help to cool down, heat stress will result.
And heat stress can lead to serious problems - even death.
Start planning for summer care before temperatures get too high. Don't leave it until the heatwave hits - you're losing valuable time.
It's critically important to know the signs that your chickens are in distress, and what you can do to help. Doing nothing is not an option: chickens die because of heat stress.
Don't just rely on weather forecasts. Watch for changes in your flock's behaviour: if you see panting through open beaks, pale combs and wings held well away from their body, it's time to take action.
If you're unsure of the symptoms to look for when your chickens are stressed during summer heat, take a look at this page. It lists the ten most common signs of heat exhaustion and potential heat stroke.
In this article we'll look at five simple steps you can take now to make sure that, when temperatures rise, your chickens will be safe.
The steps are simple and generally use things you'll have around the house, but even so you'll need to make sure you do have the right tools in hand now.
It may seem very obvious, but chickens drink a lot when it's hot - between four and five times the amount they would normally need. So make sure your flock has a constant supply of cold, clean water during hot weather, even if that means changing it several times each day.
If your chickens are showing signs of overheating, using electrolytes in their drinking water is a good way to rehydrate them quickly.
The easiest way to think of electrolytes is as a chicken form of Gatorade - but without the added flavouring and colouring.
Added to drinking water they can restore the minerals and vitamins lost when chickens are dehydrated. But it's also important not to overdo it - chickens cannot take a lot of salt.
For more detail about electrolytes, including a home made recipe you'll be able to make from items already in your store cupboards, see this article. It will open in a new page so you can easily come back here when you've read it.
Summer fruits are plentiful in the shops (and on our trees!) now, and make a good treat for chickens particularly if they're chilled.
Some summer veggies are also a good idea to help keep your chickens hydrated during the summer heat. Freezing them into a tasty summer salad is even more of an insurance against heat stroke!
Again, the chickens consume the water as they peck at the ice block to get to the veg.
It's really not rocket science.
For more ideas about this, take a look at my article about a frozen treat my chickens love.
It's a sad fact that warmer weather attracts lice and mites to chicken coops. And those pesky beasts can not just irritate but suck the life out of chickens at a time when they need all their energy to beat the heat.