How are your hens going? These tips will help keep them happy.
1 Special feed for breeders. If you are planning to hatch chicks, make sure your breeders are in tiptop health by feeding a good-quality breeder ration for six weeks prior to collecting eggs for setting. Parental nutrition is passed into eggs and sustains the chicks. Want to try incubating eggs? Read 'Egg-cellent incubating'.
2 Get on top of external parasites. Remove birds from the perch at night and inspect vent area and under wings for lice and mites. Dust bird thoroughly with sulphur powder if found; repeat treatment weekly until infestation is gone. Lice can drive a setting hen off the nest and lower virility in roosters. Have a look at Jessamy's 'Hen health checklist'.
3 Spring clean the henhouse. Choose a sunny day so woodwork dries out before nightfall and remember to wear a mask. Remove all furnishings and rake out litter and compost it. Brush down walls to remove dust and spiderwebs, and scrape off dried manure. Use hot water with a dash of vinegar to scrub perches, nest boxes and other furnishings. Hose off wood or concrete floors and allow to dry before adding fresh litter such as wood shavings to floor and nest boxes. The chooks will love scratching it about. For some more information about next boxes: 'The best nest'.
4 Keep nest boxes clear of droppings. Nest boxes will be getting a workout as spring is peak laying season. Eggs are porous and can absorb bacteria and odours, so take care to remove any droppings in nest boxes daily. If eggs get soiled, brush them off or rub clean with a dry scourer. Avoid wetting them, which can wash bacteria through the pores in the shell into the egg, causing it to spoil. Eggs should be stored in the fridge to maintain freshness. If you find a secret stash of eggs, check freshness by floating the eggs in a bowl of water: fresh eggs sink, bad eggs float. If chook poo is off-putting Justin Russell has wriiten all about it's wonders.
Jessamy is our chook expert and so we have quite a few articles on having hens in your backyard:
By: Jessamy Miller
First published: September 2020