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Tips & Tricks

 

Tips & tricks to help you with your journey keeping backyard chickens.

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Chickens’ and rain

Chicken health, Facts & Tips

Chickens are generally fine being in the rain as long as they have a waterproof shelter they can retreat to on-demand.

Most chickens are sensible and will seek shelter when there is heavy rain. If you have younger birds, they may not understand and may need some encouragement back to shelter. Many chicken breeds are relatively hardy, and a little rain won’t hurt them; however, all of them will need somewhere to seek shelter and enough space to avoid chickens that are higher in the pecking order who might bully them if they get too close. Make sure you have adequate perches to keep your flook up off the damp ground. If the coop is flooded and you can’t do anything immediately, a pallet on the ground will help to lift them up out of the water.

Rain brings a lot of food for your chickens. Insects, worms, and other creatures come out of the ground and out from under rocks in the rain.  This becomes a feast for your chickens. They will delight in hunting down insects in a light drizzle. 

Another reason chickens enjoy an overcast, rainy day is because it provides some shelter from birds of prey and other predators. It gives them more opportunities to search for food casually.  If a flying or ground predator does manage to be successful in its attack, the moisture retained by the feathers of these chickens will make it easier for them to slip away from their grip.

Feathers are your birds’ first defense against rain and wet weather. Think about the stiff, main, outer feathers on a chicken, known as the contour feathers. These are relatively water-resistant for many chicken breeds and can keep the bird reasonably dry even in the rain.

As you know, “water-resistant” clothing does a pretty good job of repelling water for a while, especially in light rains. But if you get caught in a real downpour, you might reach the limit of the garment’s water-resistant capabilities, at which point the water seeps through, and you get soaked.

This is similar to how chicken feathers function and explains why they may seem happy enough outdoors in the rain for a while. Keep in mind that not all chickens have water-resistant feathers. For instance, chicks are so fluffy and adorable because all they have is down; they haven’t grown their tough, outer feathers yet and aren’t equipped for rainy weather at all. Silkie’s are another example. This breed possesses a genetic trait that causes the alternate feather growth that gives the Silkie its unique appearance, but these feathers don’t repel rain very well.

Birds that get soaked through to the skin can be at risk for hypothermia.  Symptoms of hypothermia in chickens are shaking, low body core temperature, pale or blue comb, pale sinus tissue, and slow labored breathing.  If you add wind to that rain to create a wind chill, a bird can become ill very quickly.

Cleaning

I would recommend a full spring clean after a large rain event or flood.

Its extremely important to discard any damp, wet, or mouldy bedding material. This can cause bumblefoot, and eventually cause respiratory diseases and even death.

If it’s possible, move the coop to higher (hopefully drier) ground.

If you can’t move it build up the area with gravel and sand:

  1. Remove the mud or let it dry out.
  2. Fill with gravel
  3. Cover with sand (so your chickens aren’t walking on that hard gravel).
  4. You may also want to build an edge around your coop and run to minimize sand loss.

Illness

Young chickens:
Coccidiosis is an avian intestinal disease that occurs typically in young chickens when a microscopic parasitic organism (called protozoa) attaches itself to the intestinal lining. It damages the tissue of the gut, causing bleeding (which can be evident in their droppings), prevents the chicken from absorbing nutrients, and creates an environment in which bacteria can thrive.  Coccidiosis (Cocci) is the most common disease in chickens and is fatal if untreated. Generally, an active and healthy adult bird will be able to tolerate cocci as they usually develop resistance over time.

Not only do Cocci live and breed in wet conditions, but your chooks are also exposed to a larger than normal parasite load because they’re indoors and everything is muddy and contaminated with droppings The coop and run aren’t being sanitised by sunlight, which in normal weather destroys many types of bacteria and parasite eggs.

Adult flock:

Mould and fungi breed in wet conditions, producing illness through contaminated feed and irritating your chickens’ sensitive respiratory tract. If chickens are repeatedly exposed to rain without the opportunity to dry off, they can also develop respiratory issues and fungal infections at the base of their feathers. A warm bath with a blow-dry afterward can be very helpful

Puddles:

Chickens love to drink from muddy puddles, no matter how much fresh water you provide, and muddy puddles are likely to contain coccidia, bacteria, worm eggs, and even botulism. If the chickens are compromised, a little puddle of water can be enough to push them over the edge.

Tip: Check your flock’s feet after rain. Mud likes to accumulate and dry out and their feet may need a good wash!

Nutrition

After a large rain event or flood, your chickens are likely to be stressed. Increase their nutrient intake by providing a high-quality feed such as Red Hen 17 or Showbird Breeder. Adding high-protein treats and supplements will help your birds recover quickly.

Some high protein treats and supplements we suggest:

This treat is a great way to add a little fat to your chickens before winter hits, and tossing it on the ground in the coop or run is a fun treasure hunt for your birds on dreary days. Try giving your chickens a nice feed of cracked corn before bed. This gives them something to digest during the night, keeping them warmer.

A highly popular (among the feathered family) hearty, nourishing meal to supplement your chook’s daily diet and warm their tummies!

Poultry Oatmeal is a nutritious treat for chickens, especially during the autumn and winter months. Oatmeal has the same texture and consistency as our poultry porridge but in a new tasty flavour.

BSFL is rich in protein, key vitamins, and minerals, and is an excellent source of amino acids.

Spice Blend contains a nutritious blend of delicious, high-quality ingredients that chickens love. This product is designed to support the immune system, respiratory, digestive, and reproductive health.

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