Some tips we found to help beat the severe heat with our large Cornish x rock chickens.
We are not chicken professionals and learned the hard way how hot is too hot for our large meat birds. We thought we did everything right and followed everything we could find about dealing with the heat.
What we didn't know was what to do if all of that didn't work and your chickens start to die from the heat. If your chickens are panting and trying to cool themselves off give them a dip in water. This saved our flock! I have only found this on one web site and it isn't in any of the books I have or have referenced. I thought that the water would shock them, but it didn't and it almost immediately cooled them off. We tried it because they were all going to die if we didn't do something.
Just be careful of a few things... chickens will drown so fill up the water in your container so it comes up to just below their wings; once they feel a little better they may try to fly out of the water so do not leave them unattended and keep your hands on their wings to avoid injury.
You will see them feel better so quickly. Even our hardest hit birds perked right up. Each spent about 5 minutes in the water. Some needed to go back in for a little more cooling. We used ice cold water and our chickens were fine with it.
Now, if we are going to get extreme heat again like last week, I will be looking to do some preventative cooling by giving our large chickens a dip a little while after the heat sets in. We will also continue to use homemade frozen blocks of water to keep the water extra cold, keep the fans going, run the hose on the tin roof of the coop to help keep the coop cool that way too and given them a boost with Broiler Booster or Quick Chick from McMurray Hatchery. The vitamin boost helps them to be prepared for and deal with the stress of the heat.
Our little girls, who are about 6 weeks old were completely unfazed by the heat with the measures we had put in place before the heat crisis(Black Stars, RI Reds, Golden Polish and Ameriaucana) and did not need a dip in the water.
Again we are just backyard chicken keepers and not professionals...just don't want anyone to have to go through what we did last Friday.
Good luck and stay cool!