Can Chickens Get Sunburn? Exploring Poultry Health Risks

can chickens get sunburn ?

As poultry owners, we want to ensure that our chickens are always healthy and happy. However, many of us may not be aware of the potential health risks that our feathered friends face, especially when it comes to sunburn. In this article, we’ll explore whether chickens can get sunburned, the risks involved, and ways to protect them from the harmful effects of overexposure to the sun.

  • Chickens can get sunburned, just like humans and other animals.
  • Sunburn in chickens can lead to discomfort, pain, and even long-term health problems.
  • Preventing chicken sunburn involves providing shade, access to fresh water, and limiting exposure to direct sunlight during peak hours.
  • If your chickens do suffer from sunburn, there are remedies and treatments to alleviate their symptoms and promote healing.

Understanding the Risks of Sunburn in Chickens

As we mentioned earlier, chickens are susceptible to sunburn, especially on their combs, wattles, and other exposed parts of their body. There are several signs to look out for that may indicate your chicken is suffering from sunburn:

  • Red or pink skin
  • Blisters
  • Scaly or flaky skin
  • Lethargy or decreased activity

If you suspect your chicken has sunburn, it’s essential to act fast to prevent further damage. The best prevention method is to provide adequate shade for your chickens. You can do this by creating a shaded area in the chicken coop or providing a covered area where your chickens can take refuge from the sun’s rays.

It’s also important to note that some chicken breeds are more prone to sunburn than others. For example, chickens with lighter color feathers and less pigment in their skin are at a higher risk of developing sunburn. Additionally, environmental factors such as altitude and season can also contribute to the risk of sunburn.

Prevention of Chicken Sunburn

To keep your chickens safe and protected from the sun, we recommend the following prevention measures:

  1. Provide shade in the chicken coop or run area.
  2. Limit outdoor time during peak sun hours (10 am to 2 pm).
  3. Apply sunscreen to exposed areas of your chicken’s skin, using a pet-safe product with an SPF of at least 30.
  4. Consider investing in chicken-friendly protective clothing, such as a chicken saddle or jacket.

In the next section, we will discuss practical ways to protect your chickens from sunburn and keep them healthy and happy.

Protecting Chickens from Sunburn

As we discussed earlier, chickens are indeed susceptible to sunburn, which can cause significant harm to their health and well-being. But there are several ways you can protect your feathered friends from the harmful effects of the sun.

Provide Ample Shade

One of the most effective ways to prevent sunburn in chickens is to provide ample shade in their living quarters. Whether your chickens live in a coop or free-range, make sure there are areas where they can retreat from direct sunlight. Consider using tarps or other materials to create shade structures, or plant trees or shrubs to provide natural shade.

Use Sunscreen

Yes, you read that right! Sunscreen can be used to protect chickens from the sun’s harmful rays, just like it does for humans. However, it’s essential to use a sunscreen specifically designed for animals, as some ingredients in human sunscreen can be toxic to chickens. Talk to your veterinarian or an animal care specialist for recommendations on the best sunscreen for your chickens.

Limit Sun Exposure

While chickens need plenty of natural light to thrive, it’s crucial to limit their exposure to direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the day. Consider letting them out to forage in the early morning or late afternoon, or providing access to a shaded run during midday hours.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

As with any living creature, staying hydrated is crucial for chickens to maintain good health, and it’s especially important in hot, sunny weather. Make sure your chickens always have access to clean, fresh water and consider placing extra waterers in shaded areas to promote hydration.

Consider Breed-Specific Vulnerabilities

Certain breeds of chickens may be more susceptible to sunburn than others. For example, breeds with light-colored feathers or exposed skin areas may be more vulnerable. Consider researching your chicken’s breed to understand their specific vulnerabilities and adjust sun protection measures accordingly.

Treating Sunburn in Chickens

If you suspect that your chicken may have sunburn, it’s important to take action promptly. The good news is that there are several remedies and treatments that can help alleviate the symptoms and promote healing.

Natural Remedies

One of the simplest remedies for sunburn in chickens is to apply aloe vera gel directly to the affected areas. Aloe vera has natural soothing and healing properties that can help relieve pain and inflammation. You can also try applying coconut oil or olive oil to the affected areas to provide additional moisturizing and antibacterial benefits.

Another option is to add apple cider vinegar to the chicken’s drinking water. The vinegar can help balance the pH levels of the skin and reduce the risk of infection.


In more severe cases of sunburn, your veterinarian may recommend topical or oral medications to help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Topical creams or ointments containing corticosteroids can help reduce redness and swelling, while pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can provide relief from discomfort.

Rest and Recovery

Lastly, it’s important to give your chicken plenty of rest and opportunities to recover from sunburn. Make sure the chicken has access to shade and cool water at all times, and avoid handling or touching the affected areas as much as possible. With proper care and attention, most chickens will recover from sunburn within a week or two.

Additional Considerations for Chicken Sunburn Prevention

While providing shade is a crucial step in protecting chickens from sunburn, there are additional factors to consider to ensure their well-being.

Breed-specific Vulnerabilities

Some chicken breeds are more susceptible to sunburn than others. For instance, chickens with lighter feathers, such as White Leghorns, are more at risk than those with darker feathers like Black Australorps. If you are raising a breed that is prone to sunburn, extra care should be taken to ensure they are well-protected from the sun’s harmful rays.

Seasonal Variations

Seasonal changes can also affect a chicken’s vulnerability to sunburn. During the hot summer months, the sun’s rays are stronger and chickens are more susceptible to sunburn. It’s important to take extra precautions during this time, such as providing ample shade and limiting outdoor activities during peak sunlight hours.

  • Be sure to adjust your chickens’ schedules to take advantage of early morning and late afternoon sun exposure. This will help to limit their exposure to the sun’s harmful rays during the hottest parts of the day.
  • During the winter months, when the sun is weaker, the risk of sunburn decreases. However, it’s still important to ensure adequate shade is available, especially during sunny winter days.

By taking these additional factors into consideration, you can further protect your chickens from the negative effects of sunburn and promote their overall health and well-being.

Expert Tips for Chicken Sunburn Prevention

Protecting your chickens from the harmful effects of sunburn can be a challenge, but with the right precautions, you can ensure their well-being and comfort. Here are some expert tips:

Provide shade in the chicken coop

  • Install shade cloth or tarps over the coop to provide a cool and shaded environment for your chickens.
  • Consider planting trees around the coop area to provide natural shade.

Use sunblock for chickens

  • Apply a chicken-specific sunblock to the combs, wattles, and any exposed skin on your chickens.
  • Choose a sunblock with at least SPF 30 and reapply every few hours.

Offer ample water supply

  • Ensure your chickens have access to plenty of fresh, cool water at all times.
  • Consider adding electrolytes to the water to keep your chickens hydrated and healthy during hot weather.

Adjust feeding schedule

  • Avoid feeding your chickens during the hottest part of the day.
  • Instead, provide feed during cooler times, such as early morning or late evening.

Consider breed-specific vulnerabilities

  • Some chicken breeds are more vulnerable to sunburn than others.
  • If you have a vulnerable breed, take extra precautions, such as providing additional shade and using sunblock.

By following these tips, you can protect your chickens from sunburn and promote their overall health and well-being. With a little extra care and attention, you can keep your feathered friends comfortable and happy all year round.


We hope this article has shed some light on the topic of chicken sunburn and provided valuable information to help you protect your feathered friends. As we have explored, chickens are indeed susceptible to sunburn, which can cause health problems and discomfort.

However, by understanding the risks of sunburn in chickens, taking preventive measures, and providing shade in the chicken coop, you can effectively protect your birds from harm. In addition, there are various remedies and treatments available to alleviate symptoms of sunburn and promote healing.

It’s important to keep in mind that different chicken breeds may have varying levels of vulnerability to sunburn, and seasonal changes can also impact the risk. By staying informed and taking proper precautions, you can ensure the health and well-being of your feathered flock.

Ultimately, whether chickens can get sunburn is a question that has been answered with a resounding “yes.” But armed with the knowledge and tips provided in this article, you can prevent and treat sunburn in your chickens, allowing them to thrive and enjoy the outdoors safely.

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