Sunday, 21 July 2013

Weather Tips for Keeping Chickens Cool

The heatwave is showing no signs of cooling off just yet so you need to be thinking about how your chickens are feeling.
They will be hot - very hot.
They cannot sweat so have to lose heat through their combs or by panting.
You MUST make sure they have plenty of fresh water daily. They will not be eating much but they will drink for England. You will probably notice that egg laying is somewhat reduced.  This will be a combination of the heat stress and also because their nutrition is less than it should be because of reduced food intake.

Give them a boost by making up a "mash" of stuff they will always eat, like thawed spinach, frozen sweetcorn, other leafy green veggies or carrots chopped up , a bit of poultry spice for additional minerals. Blend it with a splash of cod-liver oil and moistened layers pellets (or whatever pellets they are on). If you keep the sweetcorn and spinach slightly frozen they will probably enjoy the cooling effect.
Mixed Corn will heat them up so avoid if possible.

Make sure they have enough shade to escape the direct sun. Orpingtons particularly and other very feathery breeds can suffer terribly in the heat. Some chickens also like to paddle in cool water so a shallow tray filled to ankle depth (on a chicken that is) will be welcomed. A greenhouse gravel tray is ideal. You could also cool their water down by putting some ice cubes in with it. If you have poultry electrolytes to put in the water that will help them cope better or a poultry tonic.

Keep an eye on their drinkers so that they are not going green and building up a slimy biofilm on. This is not healthy for them. This will build up rapidly in hot sunny weather.

At night make sure they have enough air. A makeshift temporary door made of chicken wire, very securely fastened to the coop will allow the cooler night air in and keep them safe.

New Course Dates

We have just set some new course dates for this year as response has been very positive. We thoroughly enjoy running them and look forward to meeting more of you!

Sunday 4th August 2013 (5 places left) See Course page for new dates
Sunday 25th August 2013
Saturday 7th September 2013
Saturday 21st September 2013
All start at 10:30 in the morning giving you time to have a little lie-in and lasting for 3 hours. We tend to run over however so leave enough time to ask plenty of questions. It costs £38.50 per person

Please book via the blog course page here or from the Heswall Hills Henporium courses page here.

If you need to ask any questions before you book please email us by clicking here

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Results of Tidying UP

I have been trying to get some order in my computer files and have been through my photos, and I found this and I thought I would share it. It is my 2 week old duckies still under their "electric chicken" brooder heat pad. If you think baby chicks are cute, ducklings are even cuter (if thats a word)

These two are a large Silver Appleyard at the back and at the front is a large Dark Campbell. Dark Campbells are quite unusual as the more usual colour widely available is the White Campbell and the Khaki Campbell. These two little darlings produce an egg virtually every day until October and they start again just after Christmas. They are also massive, more like a small goose and thankfully they dont fly as for some reason their wings are not long enough to bear their weight. They do flutter a bit but only when extremely bothered. They can jump, but they look like a cute sack of spuds when they do. Not the most elegant.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Weather it Will or Weather It Wont

Summer is finally here as we all rush to buy our total sun block cream so we dont get all wrinkly. The chickens in the garden are going through water like a run on the bank. They cant get enough of it. With all those feathers, they can't sweat it out so they have to pant like a dog to keep cool. It must be very uncomfortable to have to lug round a duvet all day in this heat.

We have a broody on eggs, and three broodies now in the nest boxes squealing at anything that comes near. They warn anything that moves to keep out or they will get a good pecking. Fearsome they are. I got a tip from the web to turf out the broody so she couldnt visit a nest box, and it worked for two I had earlier in the year, but when I turfed these three out, they just paced up and down looking quite stressed against the chicken wire trying to find a way back into their cosy nest. They made their clocking noise for most of the day and when it came time to let them back in the coop they just went back to their nest as though they had been sitting there all day. While it is too hot I cant keep them out of the shelter of the coop in case they overheat so I will try once the weather goes back to being good old British dismal.

We went for a walk along the river in Chester yesterday and it was glorious, but I got disowned by my daughter for wearing an upturned tulip on my head. Actually it was my Eden Project straw sunhat, which I thought didnt look too bad, but she has put me off it now. I need something which stops my poor scalp from burning but doesnt look like a dead plant. Any suggestions most welcome, particularly one which doesnt give you hat hair, the sort of hairdo that you have to keep wearing your hat for as you look really daft once you take it off. The trouble with hats is they make you too hot and you end up with sweaty rivers all over your face. Not a good look, especially on one who also gets hot flushes.