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Posted on 23 January 2020 in Chicken Chat and tagged under , , ,

In the colder months your hens can spend more time in their run and less time free ranging in your garden, field, or orchard. This can lead to boredom and bad behaviour as chickens need something to occupy their time…

chicks dancing

In many ways chickens can be like small children – they like shiny objects, they’re easily distracted, and they can cause mass destruction if they’re not kept entertained.

Luckily keeping your hens occupied doesn’t have to be difficult and unlike small children they won’t be clamouring for the latest toy or games console. In fact, a head of cauliflower could be the best present you could ever give them!

If you’re new to the world of chicken boredom busters or you’re looking for more inspiration here are our top tips for keeping your flock amused:

Fun and healthy!

Any treats that give your poultry something to do and ensure they get all their vitamins and minerals have to be a good thing, right?

Hanging a cabbage or cauliflower from the roof of their enclosure will keep them occupied for hours playing “piñata” and then they can forage for fallen bits of veg when they’re done.

You can also purchase specifically made “treat balls” which are delicious and high in energy to keep hens healthy all year round.

Mirror mirror!

Now we’re not saying that chickens are vain but they do like to check out their reflection from time to time. Lightweight, shatterproof, and plastic mirrors are an inexpensive purchase that can be found in many bargain homeware shops.

Fix the mirror to your run using cable ties and watch your hens pamper and preen!

chicken in the mirror

Another level

Chickens love to have a “bird’s eye view” of the world so providing them with outside perches, swings, or stumps to stand on will give them a better look at their surroundings.

Tree stumps, branches, old ladders, and broom handles can all be used to give your hens a multi-level environment.

For something fancy and ready to go you can purchase a chicken swing from the British Hen Welfare Trust shop.

Piles of leaves

This is a great tip for the autumn months when you’ll have an abundance of fallen leaves in your garden. For reasons known only to themselves chickens hate piles so try putting a pile of leaves in their enclosure and see how quickly they start to destroy it!

Something new

Chickens love anything new that they can investigate – wooden crates, a plastic rake, an old broom head, or even a tub of mud – will be greatly appreciated by your flock.

As long as the item can’t injure or damage your hens in any way go ahead and let them check it out.

Move things around

If you can easily move your chicken house then try putting it in a new part of the garden. Not only will this give a bit of your garden a rest but it will also allow your hens to explore a new environment.

If you’ve got a permanent poultry enclosure then why not move your flock’s feeder and other accessories to new places? Your chickens will have fun looking for things that have moved and moving things might even reveal worms, bugs, and other edible goodies!

 

Posted on 2 March 2018 in Chicken Chat and tagged under , , , ,

Chickens are usually fairly hardy creatures and shouldn’t require a lot of human intervention to continue to thrive in the winter months. However, as temperatures drop and snow falls across the country there some things you can do to make your flock more comfortable this winter.

Like many poultry keepers you might find that your birds shut up shop in the winter and don’t lay eggs. This is perfectly normal so unless your chicken looks unwell you don’t need to worry.

Although your chickens might not be giving you anything in return for your hard work it’s important not to let care standards drop in the winter. Keeping them in tip top condition will ensure that they start their new laying period raring to go.

So, here’s how to look after chickens in the snow:

Housing

Generally speaking chickens don’t mind the cold, what they do mind however is draughts, wind, and rain – particularly if they haven’t got any shelter.

Houses should be waterproof, draught free, and with ventilation above head height. Ventilation is vital, as tempting as it can be to block all ventilation holes this can cause frostbite as any moisture in the coop freezes over night.

If your chicken house is usually in an exposed area of the garden it might also be worth trying to find a more protected place for it to live in the winter.

A thicker layer of bedding will also make your birds happy but remember the house still needs to be cleaned out regularly to prevent mould, bacteria, and fungal growth making your birds sick.

How often should your clean your chickens out?

We recommend at least a weekly deep clean that involves removing all bedding, allowing the house to air, and checking for any general wear and tear.

If you do have quite a thick covering of snow you might find your chickens prefer to stay indoors rather than get cold feet. If they do opt to stay in their coop then you will need to clean it more often.

Water worries

Providing your flock with fresh, clean water will probably be your biggest challenge during snowy weather. Drinkers tend to freeze or fill up with snow quickly so you’ll need to think of a solution to the problem before it happens.

Here are our top tips:

On very cold days check the water as many times as you can throughout the day

Remove drinkers at night and empty the water – it’s easier to refill a drinker daily than to defrost one

Move the drinker to a more sheltered spot

You may also want to consider investing in a heated drinker if you live in a part of the UK that is prone to extremely cold weather and snow.

Food for thought

In terms of feed your flock shouldn’t need anything different – although you may want to feed them more. They’ll also appreciate a warm mash on colder days and a few handfuls of corn before bedtime to keep them warm overnight.

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