Chicken Coop is Ready for Summer

Spring is saying it’s last goodbye here in Phoenix. Temperatures are reaching the 80’s during the day and that means only one thing… the real HEAT coming. I took advantage of the mild weather yesterday and prepared the chicken coop for the dreadful 115 degree days which inevitably are just around the corner.

Mist systems are in place and in working order, even the old fan has been replaced with an industrial grade high powered oscillating model specifically made for barns.  Sun screens are all new, and double layered on the east and west side of the coop. I dragged out the big drinkers to help keep the water cool, and replaced the covered nest boxes with the open tops. After a thorough cleaning and fresh shavings, we are ready for summer, bring it on!

It’s definitely a challenge keeping chickens in extreme heat, this article will give you lots of tips on what you can do to keep your flock safe. Cold weather is not a problem, but heat is a whole different story… and it can be a deadly one.

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Urban Chickens Fall Victim to Predators Too

This past year has been our worst ever for predator attacks. For twelve years, not a one, now, in 2016 we’ve had five. Three were by coyotes, one by a hawk, and yesterday, a bobcat. When the first attacks happened in February, we predator proofed all our coops better over a few months.

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We are finally done and everybody is safe. Then, yesterday I thought it would be nice to let the flock out for 20 minutes while I cleaned the coop.
They stayed close, no more than 20 feet away from where I was working. Sounds safe enough right? NO. Hard to even believe this, but, a bobcat jumped up from behind our 7ft block wall and snatched Peaches, my best mamma Silkie hen and took off with her. Seriously, what are the chances of that happening? I’m devastated.

So much for trying to be kind to my girls with a little free roam time. I never in a million years thought a bobcat or any other predator would attack with me out there, I was dead wrong. And… if you think because you’re in the city your chickens are safe, they’re not. Our little farm is located in the middle of the city, with mega traffic and high density housing all around us.

There is however, 700 acres of state leased mountain range right behind our property. Nevertheless, you’d think a busy neighborhood with a maze of block wall fencing would keep predators within their natural boundaries, or at least somewhat discourage them. Wrong, trust me, there are no boundaries.

Although I’m embarrassed to admit I allowed my flock to fall victim to a predator when I should have known better, I’m warning you now to never assume your birds are safe. Beware, chickens are NOT safe unless they are in a predator safe enclosure at all times…  even in the city, and even if you’re right with them.

Below are pics of the predators spotted on our urban farm in the last year. A dangerous mix that most people probably assume are unlikely to be within the city limits.  Guess what… wherever you live, they’re prowling in your backyard as well. Keep your chickens protected, and remember, some predators will also go after a small dog. Today we bought a large 10x10x6ft high covered dog pen so our little dogs are safe when they go outside.  All this pretty acreage, and sadly they aren’t safe to run free and enjoy it anymore.

These predators have all visited our little urban farm at one time or another.

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Chickens, Chores, and Blessings

Meet Dottie, she’s a LeghornX at almost 3 months and my little trooper in the desert heat. Smart and resourceful to say the least. Unlike the other members of the flock, she cools off in the little pool provided and takes full advantage of the mist system.

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Most of the flock is looking a little rough from temperatures ranging from 110 to 117. Not to mention me, definitely not feeling my best battling the heat while bringing them ice and fresh fruit during the day. But this is what chicken people do right? We love our birds no matter what. Ok, I’ll be honest, sometimes I do question myself on why I purposely add more chores to my life by keeping chickens!

Nest run eggs from the ranch

But isn’t it funny how the drudgery of chores are forgotten when they’re all done? Maybe it’s the fresh smell of pine shavings in the hen house, or the basket full of pretty eggs.
But one thing for sure, when I’m heading back to the house, that last glance behind makes it all worthwhile. I feel blessed seeing my happy feathered family busy scratching in the dirt looking for natures little chicken treasures.

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Welcome Hatch-A-Longs

Yesterday was hatch day. My usual redundant morning chores were certainly more exciting to say the least when I was greeted by newly hatched fuzzy butts. This was a first time hatching eggs for Peaches, a four year old Silkie hen.  She’s very proud and protective of her babies, nevertheless, I’m keeping a close watch on her inexperienced mothering. The brooder is set up and ready to go if needed.

This was a trial run for Peaches, the fertile eggs I placed under her were a barnyard mix. What I know for sure is the eggs are from a Leghorn and an Ameraucana. But the rooster? That will remain a mystery.

It will be nice change to have birds other than Silkies and Cochins in my barn, these little hatch-a-longs will remain here as permanent members of the flock. Mamma and chicks will be moved to the barn with the others, confined to a corner in full view of the flock at 2-3 weeks old.

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