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! How do we look?

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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Getting Chickens to Roost in the Right Place

Chickens have a strong homing instinct which drives them to return to the same place to roost at dusk. Those who for whatever reason have decided otherwise, can easily be picked up when it’s dark and placed in the coop.  After a few days to a week at most, they usually give up the tree limb, fence, or corner they fancied and join the others in the coop without your interference.

Make sure it’s dark though! Because as soon as you turn your back they’ll run back to where you took them from. It’s very common for youngsters to choose a corner on the ground away from the coop.  Just pick them up and place them where you want them to be and they’ll catch on after awhile. However, don’t be concerned if your young birds pile up together in the coop, just be glad they’re in there! As they mature they’ll find their way to the roost, usually at around five months old.

This four month old Leghorn chose this spot to roost for the night. After a few evenings of fetching her off the fence and putting her in the coop she gave up and now joins the others on her own.

Leghorn Dottie 9316

Do all Chickens Roost?
No, don’t ask me why… some, such as Silkies for example, are known to hunker down for the night in the coop, off the roost.
I have four year old hens that refuse to roost, it doesn’t matter, as long as they are safely confined at night I just let them choose their comfort zone.

Broody Silkies 10-23-14

Night Behavior
A chicken’s behavior is dramatically different at night. During the day they are full of life, feisty, and confident, but when the night comes they turn into total milk duds, almost is if they were in a hypnotic state. Take advantage of this time, this is your hassle free ticket to handle, inspect, and doctor chickens. Especially the ones that are difficult or impossible to catch during the day.

Chickens are so docile at night you can usually sneak a new bird in the coop after dark, it will most likely go unnoticed until morning. Some chicken keepers choose to introduce birds this way. But I must warn you, a chicken’s night stupor disappears the moment they march out of the coop at the crack of dawn. Be prepared to witness a whole new ball game of unkind introductions to say the least! Learn more about Introducing Chickens to an Existing Flock.

 

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Jasmine, Flock Bunny

This is Jasmine, she has lived among our flock of chickens for years. She usually waits for the hens to leave the coop, then sneaks in and eats their food. She lives under a pallet in the feed room, when she has babies, there’s a nearby hole in the corner of the barn, pretty sure she keeps them way down in there. I’ve seen her take hay, shavings, or whatever else she can find down there for nesting material. Once she destroyed my broom, I guess the bristles where quite a find for her building project. Last winter a quilted moving blanket used to cover my coop was shredded to bits! The cool thing about that was only the stuffing in the blanket was used, she left the outer material, wanting only the soft fill for her babies.

Jasmine 61916

Bunny 5-4-14

Jasmine will join the flock to eat when fresh greens are offered, they all seem to live in harmony. It is not uncommon to see them all gathered around the drinker, Jasmine hasn’t noticed or doesn’t care that she’s a little different from her chicken family. However, oddly enough, she never raises her babies to be flock bunnies. All her young are briefly introduced, then never to be seen again.

After a devastating monsoon storm that destroyed our barn in 2014, two coyote and hawk attacks, feral cats, and one resident bunny killin’ dog, Jasmine is still here. Tough ol’ gal!

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