Chickens don’t need a lot of care to keep them happy and healthy, but they do need a little bit of attention. If you’re raising backyard chickens this summer, the following tips may help them to be more productive, less-stressed, and less-likely to catch an illness or disease.
Experts recommend that water bowls and dispensers be emptied and cleaned every night. This may seem labor-intensive, and maybe this isn’t applicable in every situation, but this simple step can prevent them from ingesting a lot of bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. Not only that, but chickens will be more-inclined to drink from a fresh source than a contaminated one, and this can play a major role in their sense of well being, thus boosting their health and productivity as a result.
While the house may provide shelter from the sun, temperatures can get pretty hot inside, even if it’s well-ventilated. Make sure they have an area that is shaded where they can run around or just enjoy spending time in fresh air. Chickens are very susceptible to the effects of heat, and a little bit of shade can go a long way with keeping them comfortable and happy.
Choose feed ingredients that are suitable for summer, and don’t put too much out at one time. Chickens won’t eat everything that you throw at them, and a lot of this waste will either contaminate the coop or attract rodents, insects and vermin. Decaying organic matter can also contribute to mold, fungal and bacterial growth that can increase the chances of illness spreading throughout the brood as well.
The best thing to do is put out a minimal amount of feed and add to it if necessary. It’s also a good idea to have more than one feeder in place, and don’t think twice about sprinkling some of the feed on the ground. Spreading things out a little bit will help to reduce overcrowding and competition at the feed station, and chickens are usually happier when they have to forage around for a bit. Remove any excess feed every day or so, and make sure that you clean feeding stations on a regular basis as well.
Anyone who has raised chickens knows how important it is to be vigilant with protecting the coop or hen house from predators, especially in the summer when they’re most-active. Remember that many predators are creative, wiley and opportunistic, and they will bide their time until the right opportunity to strike comes along. Make sure that holes are filled, cracks are repaired and that there is no way that predators can get inside when you’re not looking.
Finally, make sure that you freshen and replace bedding on a frequent basis as well. This will help the chickens to be more comfortable on those hot, steamy nights, and it will also inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold and fungus that can pose a health risk as well.
As you can see, it really doesn’t take a lot to provide a safe and comfortable environment for backyard chickens to thrive. A little bit of attentiveness and active-management goes a long way, and these common-sense tips can help to keep your chickens happy and healthy all summer long.