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.

Dottie Leghornx 71216

Temperature 71216

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.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Moving Day, Brooder to Coop

What Fully Feathered Silkie Bantams Look Like
• Brooder to Coop, Suitable Outdoor Temperatures

The Silkies are 6 weeks old and ready to leave the brooder. They’ve been raised in an insulated shed with natural light, and their only source of heat was radiant heat provided from a Brinsea EcoGlow.

Night temperatures were between 48 and 55 degrees, and although I veered from the golden rule of keeping the brooder at 95 the first week and lowering the temperature by five degrees each week, my chicks showed no signs of discomfort.  I usually don’t move chicks from the brooder until 7 or 8 weeks, but  being kept in cooler conditions they  must have feathered quicker.

Here they are, Fanny, Jo, Pat, and Randi. Happy, healthy, thriving youngsters in their new coop. Which ones will stay or end up in the sale pen will be a question answered when they’re about 6 months old. This breed is nearly impossible to sex, so the only sure way is to wait for the eggs, or hear the crowing. I might just keep one rooster and give that No Crow rooster collar a try.

Community Flock 11-8-14

Community Flock 2 11-8-14

Note: Remember to acclimate your chicks to cooler weather if they are being raised inside your house. Chicks raised under a heat lamp and kept at a consistent temperature may take a week or two longer to fully feather.

Keeping Chickens in Excessive Heat

The Recipe for Survival, Explained in Detail

Once again it’s that time of year when soaring temperatures raise concern to chicken keepers. For those who can free roam their flock there is less worry. But if you have backyard chickens that are confined to a coop, your worries are quite valid. Here’s what you can do to make your flock more comfortable.

Air Flow

chickens aug 2011 011

There are steps to take that will help your chickens beat the heat, but it will take a little effort on your part.

If your coop is over crowded it’s time to expand, too many birds in small quarters is just asking for trouble.

Air flow is vital. Chicken droppings generate heat, so be sure to clean the coop and lay down fresh bedding. If at all possible provide a fan for ventilation,  if it isn’t… find a way. A fan could be the difference between life and death.

Keeping the Flock Hydrated

There is a pecking order among chickens, so provide extra water sources for those lower ranking birds who might not be allowed to use the drinker.

Chickens will drink more if the water is cool, provide cool water at the hottest time of the day. If you have broody hens, make it easy for them to access water, don’t assume they are leaving the nest… some don’t.
Tip: Full buckets of water will stay cold longer, put out a few. Shallow ground drinkers work nicely for bantams. See pics below.

Electrolites

It’s always a good idea to have electrolytes on hand for those really hot days. Simply add it to your flock’s water source.

Electrolytes for poultry can be found at your local feed store. It comes in many forms, choose one best suited for your needs and the size of your flock.

tbn chicks apr 2011 010

Chickens may or may not like a mist system, my birds hate them, however, I have heard positive feedback from other chicken keepers. So it may be something to consider useful in dry climates.

A more positive approach is to provide your birds with a small flooded area for them to play in. Even if it’s just a a hose allowed to drip, they are magically lured to this life saving man made oasis.

Triple Digit Temperatures …

Gavin Flock, Summer 2011

Here in Phoenix our temperatures can reach 115+ degrees, this is when it’s time to bring out watermelon, cantaloupe, lettuce, or anything that will help hydrate the flock. These foods will be better for them than layer pellets, which contain corn… which produces even more unwanted heat.

During these heat spells, I ration layer pellets, offering it morning and night only, for about an hour or so.

Providing Shade

Shade is essential to the survival of chickens in extreme temperatures, especially if they’re cooped.  Your coop is best placed under a shade tree, but remember the sun moves and may leave your birds exposed to direct sun during the course of a day.

Never use tarps. Shade cloth, mesh tarps, and shade sails are excellent for keeping the sun out, yet they don’t restrict air flow. Shade cloth is cheaper than mesh tarps and available in most garden centers. Mesh tarps might be pricey, but they’re a lot easier to hang. Both, are durable and offer long lasting wear.

Recipe for Successful Chicken Keeping in Excessive Heat

• Offer 1/2 a watermelon or cantaloupe and place it in a shady area.
• Find a way to hang a fan a foot or so feet from the ground.
• Provide an area where a hose is on a slow stream or drip.
• Keep drinkers filled with cool water. Tip: Buckets kept full will stay cool longer!
• Use shade cloth, mesh tarps, and shade sails.
• Electrolytes for Poultry