Foot baths for hens. Good or bad?
There is a heat advisory where I live and the temperature has been in the 90s lately, I was wondering if a foot bath (like a tray with cool water) would help with cooling my hens down? I've read that it helps but I've read that standing in water can lead to foot problems. If foot baths are not safe for chickens, do you have any suggestions for keeping them cool? (They have lots of shade, water, and loose dirt.)
Kent County Delaware
First, and foremost, you need to make sure that your birds have access to shade and water at all times. If you can insulate the roof, that keeps heat from radiating down on them. It appears that you have good side ventilation. Foot baths are not for chickens; rather they are for humans to use as a biosecurity measure (please see this link: Footbaths for Pastured Poultry Farms). Chickens tend not to seek out water, and there is no evidence to prove or disprove the idea that it leads to foot problems. I am not sure where you are getting the information that standing in water leads to foot problems. Chickens would prefer being in a cooler area (a cage inside the house or in a mud room, or even in the garage if it is cooler) which may be a more suitable alternative in the hottest hours of the day (2 pm to 7 pm).
Keep rotating out cool water every 1 to 2 hours, or you can put a big chunk of ice in a larger waterer so it melts more slowly. If you find your chicken in heat stroke, bathe it indoors, not in cold water, but in warm and then cool water. You do not want to shock its body with cold water. Let the chickens air dry.
Click on this link for a webinar on Preparing Poultry for Show that explains how to wash your chicken for show, but the steps for washing and principles are the same.