While most people check the weather forecast to help them plan their week activities or outfits, chicken keepers can also be using it to predict what accessories their coop needs to ensure their girls are as comfortable as possible.
From sun to snow, wind to wet, the breakfast time weather reports and the handy app on your phone are all giving you helpful hints that you might be ignoring.
🌡 TEMPERATURE 🌡
Firstly, the most obvious indicator: the predicted temperature for the coming 10 days. Depending on what time of year we are in, this can be super helpful or utterly confusing if it is varying drastically. But let’s think about what we can act upon.
In winter, if the predicted temperature is at below 0 degrees celsius for more than 5 days in a row or the temperature is near freezing and you have very few chickens in your coop, you may want to consider attaching the Extreme Temperature Blanket to your Eglu to give your chickens some extra help with keeping warm, without limiting the coop ventilation.
During hot summer months, when temperatures can be above and beyond 30 degrees celsius daily in some countries, it is wise to move your chicken coop into an area that is in the shade for as much of the day as possible. For your chickens, daily health checks are essential to ensure they are not suffering with the high temperatures. If your coop is attached to or inside a secure run, you can leave your coop door open to increase airflow at nighttime without your girls being exposed to predators.
☀️ SUN ☀️
When the sun is shining, it is tempting to cover your chickens’ run with shades so that it is completely protected from the sun inside. However, this can have the opposite effect on what you intended. Instead of shading and cooling the area, lots of shades create a tunnel which traps the heat, like a greenhouse.
It is best to keep them in a shaded area, and protect one side of the run from the sun. If your chickens are out free ranging most of the day, make sure that they have access to shady patches in the garden, and that their food and water is also in shade.
❄️ SNOW ❄️
Exciting for some, but for others a weather warning for snow can be very disappointing. You may want to consider sheltering your coop’s run with clear covers to prevent as much snow getting on the ground inside the run as possible. If snow is predicted for the foreseeable future, you may want to prepare for long term icy conditions and bring your coop closer to the house so it is easier to check on your chickens, and they can benefit from some of the shelter your house might provide. During the snow, be sure to dry off damp feathers and remove any chunks of ice from claws. Increase the amount of bedding and food you are giving your chickens too as this will help them stay warm.
If you have time, it might be wise to consider how effective your chicken coop will be against the bitter cold. If you have a wooden coop, check if it is water-tight and well insulated. If you are not confident in your wooden coop, consider upgrading to a sturdy plastic alternative, like the Eglu Cube. It’s twin-wall insulation works in the same way as double glazing to keep the cold out of the coop, and the heat in during winter. The plastic material is waterproof and super easy to clean out quickly (especially important on chilly winter days).
☁️ CLOUD ☁️
The most boring of all weather forecasts, but often a rest bite from other more extreme conditions. During winter, a few cloudy days should raise the temperature slightly and give you a good opportunity to clean out your coop and thoroughly check on your chickens and make any changes needed for whatever the forecast predicts for the coming days.
🌧 RAIN 🌧
Some weather reports are more helpful than others when it comes to the exact timing and chance of there being rain. But if you’re looking at days of 90% chance of heavy showers, it would be wise to act fast and get some protective clear covers over the run. If the ground under your chickens’ coop and run is already extremely muddy and wet, you might want to consider moving them to a new patch of grass, and maybe even laying down a base material, like wood shavings, to prevent it developing into a swamp!
💨 WIND 💨
How you react to a windy forecast completely depends on the wind speeds predicted. Light winds, less than 25 mph, shouldn’t cause much of a problem. You might want to add some windbreaks around the base of your Eglu and a large clear cover down the most exposed side. However, in extreme high winds, the worst thing you can do is completely conceal your run, particularly a larger Walk in Run, with covers from top to bottom. In a large run, the mesh holes allow the wind to flow through without causing any issues to the structure, and a clear cover round one bottom corner of the run will provide chickens enough shelter. If you cover the run completely, the wind will be hammering against it and is more likely to cause the structure to lift or move.
If your chickens are in a smaller run attached to their coop, we recommend moving it to a position where it will be most protected from the wind and any falling debris, for example, against a sturdy building wall. The Eglu’s wheels allow you to easily move the coops around your garden to suit the conditions. If you are keeping your chickens in their Eglu coop and run, and not free ranging during dangerous weather conditions, consider adding some entertaining toys and treat dispenser for them to prevent boredom, such as the Peck Toy or Perch.
Backyard hens usually spend their entire lives outdoors. This means they have to cope with everything the year throws at them, from blazing summers and sub-zero winters to year-round downpours.
Being hardy birds, they take much of this in their stride. But there are still ways of helping your flock through the changing seasons.
This is the most challenging time of year for any animal living outdoors. The cons outweigh the pros, but with a little bit of help from their human friends, chickens can shrug off the excesses of the season.
Although chickens cope well with the cold, they don’t thrive when it’s both cold and raining. Protecting the run with extra weatherproofing will help enormously. Keeping the birds in an insulated Eglu is a good place to start.
Keep the hens’ feet dry in wet weather by lining the run with wood chippings.
Chickens usually return to the coop at dusk. But in the winter you may find your birds trying to get more pecking time from the short days. If your hens are prone to wander in the dark, a high visibility hen coat will help you locate them – and also ensure they’re visible to anyone else, should they stray from the garden. The coats also keep the birds cosy, so it’s a double blessing in the winter. A coop light can also encourage wandering chickens to return to the coop for bed time.
Roosting perches enable chickens to cuddle up in the cold – something essential on a cold night. Roosting also prevents their feet from becoming too cold.
In sustained sub-zero conditions, rub petroleum gel (e.g. Vaseline) on the hens’ combs and wattles, to prevent them becoming frostbitten.
Keep an eye out for coughs, sneezes, lethargy, or other signs of illness. A chicken with a weak constitution may be vulnerable when the cold weather kicks in.
Egg numbers will drop – this doesn’t mean you’ll have no eggs for breakfast, though. Three hens should till deliver eight eggs a week in the coldest months, but this will vary somewhat.
Make sure the hens’ diet remains healthy, and add some extra vitamins and minerals to keep their immune systems up to scratch.
Their water will freeze, so be prepared to break the ice, and have some spare water dispensers ready in case things freeze up entirely.
On the upside, winter might kill off any lingering red mite in coops and runs!
As the days lengthen, your hens will start laying more eggs. The garden comes back to life, and the chickens will find things worth scratching for in the ground.
Foxes will be hungry after a long, lean winter, so make sure your coop and run are secure. Automatic doors will ensure the hens are in and out at the right times, and will prevent predators from gaining after-hours access. The door will also let your chickens out in the morning, so that you can enjoy weekend mornings in bed as the days get longer.
It’s amazing, having seen your chickens happily cluck and scratch their way through freezing winter, to now see them equally happy in temperatures 20-odd degrees warmer. The main problem in summer is too much sun – but with plenty of shade in the garden, your birds will love the warm weather every bit as much as you do. A chicken coop that provides shade in itself, like the space under the Eglu Cube or the Eglu Go Up, is ideal for the summer months.
Keep the water supply topped up, as hens drink more in warm weather.
Provide a dust bath – either a dry area of ground in the garden, or a tray in the chicken run. Cat-litter trays make good baths.
Daily egg-collecting will discourage hens from going broody – something they sometimes do at this time of year.
Although the summer has gone and winter lies ahead, this is actually a great season for chickens. There are lots of juicy bugs to scratch for in the still-soft ground and leaf litter. If you have any fruit trees, there are rich pickings for the birds in the shape of windfalls.
Hens often moult at this time of year, so they need a good diet to help them stay healthy and grow new feathers. Extra vitamins and minerals will help, and a little apple cider vinegar in their water will help ensure a healthy, glossy new plumage.
If anyone nearby is planning a fireworks or bonfire party, make sure the hens are safely in their coop before the fun begins – it’s not much fun at all for a chicken caught in the firework crossfire.
Chickens are a year-round commitment. Fortunately, they make it easy for you – these wonderful birds are pretty much happy whatever the time of year.
Summertime… Beach stays, trips abroad, hikes in Yorkshire… It is a great opportunity to take a break with your family and keep daily stress at bay. You book a lovely hotel with your other half, you read a map with your children asking them where they want to go, you pack your suitcases, you… Wait! Aren’t you forgetting someone? “Babe, what about the cat? Is he coming with us?!”
Most pet owners tend to forget about it: having a pet means new responsibilities and taking care of them when you go on holidays is one of them. Unfortunately, too many people still ignore it: although the Animal Welfare Act 2006 states abandonment as a criminal offence, the RSCPA received 1 call every 6 minutes to report an abandoned animal last summer. The months of June, July and August are critical since many people seem to struggle when it comes to taking care of their pets while also going on holiday. Read our tips below to make sure your pets will have a great time this summer, just like you!
You might be an adventurous Frenchman aiming to sail around the world with your hen (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36475672). However, in all other cases, we recommend that you do not take your chickens on holidays with you. The best thing to do is to ask some friends or neighbours to take care of them while you are away, offering them to help themselves to eggs. If you are lucky enough to have an Eglu Cube on wheels, you can even move your coop directly into your neighbour’s garden!
HAMSTERS, GUINEA PIGS AND RABBITS
Just like with chickens, it is better to leave your hamster, rabbit or guinea pig at home and ask a friend, ideally someone they already know, to come and look after them. If you still decide to take them with you, or if you don’t have any other choice, be very careful with temperature change. These smaller pets are extremely sensitive to it and a sudden temperature change could be fatal. While in the car, make sure that they are neither too hot (do not leave them next to a window or in a parked car) or too cold (do not put them in front of the air con). You also want to check that nothing is at risk of falling and hurting them in the cage: take away the bottle and the feeder and stop regularly to give them some water and food. Remember that rodents and rabbits are very shy animals that like to have their own routine and tend to struggle with change.
You can definitely take them with you, but in most cases you don’t have to: cats are independent animals that can take care of themselves for a few days. Fill their bowls with food and water before leaving. If you are away for less than 10 days, ask a friend to come and check on them (one or two short visits a day should do).
If you are away for more than 10 days, it is better to leave your cat with some relatives, preferably people who already know your cat and who don’t have any animals that the cat won’t get along with. You can also put your cat in a boarding kennel. However, keep in mind that this can be risky since your cat could feel abandoned (new place, new faces…) and get depressed. Before taking them to the cattery you can give them some soft and natural tranquillizer, like Bach flower, to help them adjust.
Dogs are probably the most complicated animal to deal with when going on holidays. You can’t just leave them at home with food and water. This is not only bad for your dog, but could also lead you to be accused of animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (punishable by a £20,000 fine and a 51-week jail term). The best option is definitely to book a seat for your dog in your car and help them pack their suitcase!
Why should I take my dog with me?
Of course you can leave your dog with your friends or family (preferably someone they already know). However, keep in mind that dogs are very social animals and thrive on their owner’s company. For them, holidays will be a fantastic opportunity to spend some quality time with their favourite humans. Moreover, since you are on holidays, you will have more free time and will be able to spend entire days with your dog, which will make them extremely happy. No more long and boring days waiting for you at home! No doubt that you and your family will also be delighted to spend the whole day playing and exercising with your dog. They can also help you to interact with fellow holiday makers: many people won’t be able to resist giving them some attention!
How to organize a trip with a dog
Here is a list of what you can do to make sure your dog is ready for the holidays and everything goes fine while you two are away from home:
Before going, make sure your dog is used to travelling in a car. Some dogs can be car sick and it is good to prepare them, especially if you’re planning on a road trip and are spending a lot of time in the car!
Make sure your dog knows some basic commands such as heel and sit. If they are able to go on a walk without pulling on the lead, it is even better!
Check that their vaccinations are up to date, and if you’re going abroad, double check what the requirements are far in advance.
Bring everything they may need: food, of course, but also a first-aid kit, their health record book, the lead, the food and water bowls, the crate, their favourite toys, some poo bags… It is very important to take your dog’s food with you if you are going abroad since you can’t make sure you’ll find their favourite brand in the country you’re visiting.
While travelling, put your dog in their cage in the boot of the car.
Before visiting a place, make sure they accept pets. Never go to a hotel before checking it. Likewise, you will easily find on the Internet a list of dog friendly beaches in the UK.
Check that your dog is not too hot. If you’re going on a walk, don’t forget to bring a bowl and a good amoutn of water.
When settling your dog somewhere, do it properly: make sure they have some food, some water, some shadow… Even if it is just for an hour!
If you think it is necessary, you can fit your dog with a GPS collar. This can be useful when you go hiking in the wild. You can also download various apps on your mobile to help you locate a lost dog, find a vets near you or keep record of your dog’s health.
http://www.fleatickrisk.com/ is a very helpful website that will tell you if your dog is at risk of pest infections in the city you’re visiting. Check the website before going and take the necessary equipment with you.
In the UK, you can travel for free with your pet on most public transport: buses, taxis, trains and ferries. However, to make sure everything goes smoothly, always check that that is the case before you board. Be aware that coach companies generally do not accept pets except for assistance dogs. Remember that passengers can complain about your animal’s behaviour so try and make sure your pet will be able to behave themselves while travelling.
When travelling abroad, make sure you can go on public transport with your pet since this can vary according to the country (in some places you will have to book a ticket for your animal).
If you’re travelling by plane, mention that you have an animal when booking and check that your animal’s vaccination is up to date. On the day of the departure, make sure to arrive early. Cats and small dogs will generally be allowed to fly with you in the cabin. However, bigger dogs will have to travel in a heated and pressurized part of the cargo hold. Birds, rabbits and hamsters are often forbidden but some airlines may accept them.
A rainy day is the perfect time to stay in the kitchen and make a treat for your pets to enjoy. How about these dog friendly pancakes? Or these homemade hamster treats? Make sure that the recipe you choose is pet friendly, and remember to not feed your pet too many treats.
FIND NEW GAMES TO PLAY WITH YOUR CAT
Take advantage of all your free time and spend a few hours playing with your cat. Most older cats will have developed their own games to keep them entertained, but that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy your company, and together you might find some new fun games. Hunting games are normally a big hit. Objects with quick and unpredictable movement will without a doubt catch your pet’s attention, so try waving feathers or floaty fabric in front of your cat and drag them across the floor to get your pet moving.
TEACH YOUR DOG A NEW TRICK
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that’s just not true. With the right encouragement your dog can learn new things throughout their lives, and it will be a great way for you to spend some quality time together.
How about teaching your dog to bark on command, or to play dead? Or why not take them to the park for some fetch training? There are plenty of tutorials on Youtube, so get your strategy in place and fill your pockets with treats. When the summer break is over you’ll have a great party trick to show friends and family.
Why not get the kids to clean out the chicken coop for you for a bit of extra pocket money? The Eglu Chicken Coops are so easy to clean that anyone tall enough to reach in will be able to get it spotless in no time. Get them to bring in the new eggs and you can all have lunch together!
HOMEMADE TOYS FOR RABBITS
You can find lots of toys for your rabbits in our shop, but if you want to make something together with the kids you can find plenty of toy material in the garden or around the house.
Locate a willow tree and collect some twigs to weave into a ball or a wreath. Your rabbits will love playing with their new toys as well as nibble on the nutritious wood.
If you’ve got an old towel or a pair of jeans you’re getting rid off you can make a rag doll for your rabbits. Use your creativity to make something beautiful, or just tie a knot in the middle of a strip of sturdy fabric that the rabbits can throw around on their run and rip to shreds. Make sure to take it away before they’ve ruined it completely though, as you don’t want them to ingest too much fabric.
BUILD AN OBSTACLE COURSE FOR YOUR HAMSTER
Hamsters love running, jumping and climbing, and you will have fun creating a challenging obstacle course for your pet. Start by finding a safe area in your house where the hamster can be let out, away from open doors and other pets. You might want to build the course inside a play pen, or create a barrier of books or other heavy objects. Just make sure they can’t fall over and hurt the hamster.
You can use lego to create the outline of the obstacle course. Lego pieces will also make great jumps and steps. Use lolly sticks to build a ladder or a ramp for the hamster to climb up on. Make sure the lolly sticks are clean, and that you use a non-toxic glue. You can also build tunnels and hiding places with loo rolls and cardboard boxes. Glue them together to create a maze within the obstacle course.
Hide treats in different places to encourage your hamster to explore! Start small and see which parts your hamster enjoys the most, and then you can extend the course as you go along.
Experiment with taking photos of your pet in different locations. Put them against a white wall in the house for a nice studio shoot, or try getting action shots in the garden. If your pet will accept any type of clothing you can dress him or her up in different outfits and funny hats, and make them pose for the camera. Why not start an instagram account for your pet to show the world how cute he or she is? Here are our best tips for taking better photos of your pets.
Why limit the egg fun to Easter? Boil some eggs and let them cool, then get the art supplies out and decorate to your heart’s content. You can decide on a theme that everyone has to follow, or if you’re feeling competitive you can get friends and family to judge the eggs in different categories – ”Most Creative”, ”Most Colourful”, ”Best Egg Pun” etc.
ABSTRACT PAW ART
Let your dog’s creative juices flow and let him or her create a beautiful piece of art. Get some toxic-free, water based paint and put your dog’s paws in it. With some treats, guide the dog to a blank canvas and let them walk all over it, creating an abstract paw-print painting. Have water at hand to clean the paws as soon as you’re happy with the result. This might be best as an outdoor activity to avoid the risk of paw prints on carpets and furniture.
Keeping your pets warm in winter and cool in summer is one of the best ways you can help them stay healthy. But this is often easier said than done. Traditionally chicken coops and rabbit hutches have been made from wood. This has its advantages: it’s an easy material to work with, it’s customisable and it looks attractive. However, when it comes to coping with the weather, it can leave a lot to be desired. Wood is not a very good thermal insulator, meaning if it’s hot outside the temperature will transfer through to the inside quickly.
Perhaps surprisingly, a much better thermal insulator is air. But how can something so thin that you can’t even see keep our pets comfortably insulated from the elements? It’s precisely because it’s so thin that it’s so effective. Heat is conducted between an area of more heat to an area of less heat by one of three processes: conduction, radiation or convection. In conduction warmer molecules vibrate rapidly and collide with other nearby molecules passing on that energy. If the material that the heat is trying to pass through has few molecules in it then it will be harder for the heat to transfer through it. This is precisely what happens if you have a warm surface separated from another surface by a layer of air.
Because air is not a good conductor it is commonly used as an insulator in everything from buildings (double glazing, cavity walls) to cooking utensils, drinking flasks and even the high tech chicken coops.
Eglu chicken coops have a unique twin wall system that takes full advantage of air’s great insulating property to keep your pets comfortable all year round. Within the walls of the Eglu is an air pocket which acts as a barrier, stopping hot and cold temperatures penetrating into the inside of the house, so your chickens can stay warm in winter, and cool in summer.
The Eglus also feature a draft-free ventilation system designed to increase the air flow throughout the coops, keeping chickens at a comfortable temperature. These air vents are discretely located around the coop, and specifically designed so they do not allow drafts over the nesting box. A well ventilated coop is not only beneficial for keeping chickens cool, but it is also extremely important for preventing your hens from suffering with respiratory issues.
For evidence of the Eglu’s cooling properties, take a look at this video showing how much slower an ice lolly melts when inside the coop…
Many of us would agree that there are few things nicer on a hot summer’s day than a trip to the beach, and as long as you come prepared there is no reason to leave your pooch at home. Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for dogs, and you can stay as long as you like without having to worry about getting home to let the dog out!
There are however a few things you need to do before you leave, and some things that are good to know when it comes to dogs and the beach. Here are our best tips for a successful outing!
Find a dog-friendly beach
Dogs are not always allowed on public beaches, but there is normally an area close-by where you can take your dog. Search for a dog-friendly beach nearby, read up on the rules, and make sure you follow them!
Keep an eye on your dog
Even if you’re at a dog-friendly beach you must always keep an eye on your dog, and show consideration to the other beach goers and dog owners. No one appreciates being sprayed with water from a wet dog as they’re relaxing with a good book! If you’re not absolutely sure your dog will come when you call or stay close to you, it might be best to keep it on the lead. Omlet stocks several leads in different lengths so that you can adjust how far the dog will be allowed to wander.
You also have to make sure your dog stays safe at the beach. Dogs are amazing at finding things in the sand that might not be good for them, everything from leftover barbecue ingredients to rotting fish. Glass, sharp shells, or even old fish hooks may hide in the sand, and can hurt your dog’s precious paws.
Teach your dog to swim
Many believe that all dogs know how to swim, but that is not the case. Even if all dogs will automatically paddle their feet if you put them in the water, there are several dog breeds that aren’t built to stay floating. Breeds with large heads and short legs will struggle to keep their head over the surface to breathe. If your dog seems to love swimming but you’re not completely sure about their ability, it might be a good idea to invest in a doggy life jacket. That being said, there are lots of dogs that don’t really enjoy the water, or who will be perfectly happy running around in the shallow parts where they don’t have to swim. Never force a dog to come swimming with you!
Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, it’s important for you as an owner to keep an eye on them as they’re out in the water. Make sure you stay informed about currents in the water, and don’t let the dog in if there are high waves or lots of boats or jet skis around. Dogs can easily get too excited in the water and swim out into deep waters, where the current might be much stronger. You also have to supervise dogs playing and swimming with children.
Make sure you pack everything you need for a day at the beach. Dogs will need plenty of fresh water, so get enough for the whole family. It’s a good idea to have a collapsible water bowl, so you don’t have to make your dog drink straight from the bottle. This way you can also keep track of how much water the dog has actually had. Bring toys that will entertain your dog throughout the day. If you’re able to throw balls or other toys down the beach, that is a perfect activity that will entertain your dogs, and give it a good amount of exercise. Just make sure the toys float if they end up in the water.
If you’re staying at the beach for a few hours, or maybe even the whole day, it’s important to make sure the dog can get some shade. If you’re not sure whether there are shaded areas where you’re going or not, bring a parasol or a small beach tent where the dog can relax during the hottest hours of the day.
Before you leave
Make sure you leave nothing behind, and clean up after yourself and your dog!
If there are taps or beach showers where you are, you might want to rinse your dog before you leave for the day. Salt can cause irritation to the dog’s skin, and sand can get in their eyes as they’re trying to get rid of it from their faces, which can cause eye infections and lots of discomfort. The dog will probably also have been exposed to plenty of dirt and bacteria during all the exploring. If you can’t find any fresh water at the beach, it might be a good idea to scrub your dog with a towel before you get in the car (maybe mainly to not end up with a desert in the boot), and then give him or her a quick bath when you get home.
Did you know that chickens can’t sweat? Instead, chickens use their legs, combs and wattles to lead heat away from their bodies. They also pant and spread their wings in order to get some air through those feathers. Chickens also enjoy lying down in the shade when it’s very hot, and of course they drink lots of water. Did you know that it is actually easier for chickens to keep themselves warm in winter than it is for them to cool down during the summer? It isn’t just an issue of comfort either – chickens can die of heatstroke. Since chickens have a hard time cooling themselves down, when it gets extremely hot they rely on you to help them. So, what can you do to help your chickens keep cool in the summer heat?
Here are our 7 top tips:
Eggs consist mainly of water, so producing an egg absorbs a lot of water from a hen’s body. Drinking cool water is also one of the main ways in which chickens cool themselves down. Your chickens will therefore need lots of fresh, clean and cool water in the heat of the summer. It’s best to change the water every day to make sure they have this. It is also a good idea to provide several water sources so all your chickens can drink at the same time and don’t have to fight for access and end up dehydrating.
Another way you can use water to help your chickens cool down is by providing some shallow pools where they can dip and cool their feet and legs, remember that this is one of the areas where heat leaves their bodies. Try filling some shallow bowls or tubs and leaving them around in the run or your garden. If your chickens don’t like to stand directly in the water you can try placing a brick in there which will be cooled by the water and which the chickens can then stand on top of.
It is absolutely essential to provide shade for your chickens and even more so when it gets really hot. If you let your chickens free-range in the garden they might be able to find shade under trees and bushes but in any case it is a good idea to provide shade in the run as well. You can easily create shady spots in the run for instance by having a raised coop and/or attaching covers to the run.
3) Treats and Feeding
Try giving you hens some cool treats such as frozen berries, vegetables or pieces of fruit. You could even create hanging treats by freezing your chickens’ favourite treats in an ice cube tray with a string in the middle so they can hang in the run. Or try keeping a whole watermelon in the fridge to cool it down before serving as a summery treat.
Be careful not to give your chickens too many treat though, as you want to make sure they eat their layers pellets. Chickens eat less when it’s extremely hot because digestion produces more body heat, so it’s important to make sure they eat the right things and get the vitamins and minerals they need. Try feeding your chickens during the cooler parts of the day such as in the evening. See tip #4 as well.
4) Nutritional Supplements
It is a good idea to give your hens some nutritional supplements in the heat such as vitamins and tonics which can be added directly to their food or water. These can improve absorption of minerals, give your chickens a boost to improve their overall health and help them cope better with the heat.
Apple cider vinegar, for instance, can help with calcium absorption in the body which is essential for egg shell production.
5) Dust Baths
Chickens love to dust bathe in the warm weather, but you might not want them scraping around in your flower beds. The best thing to do is to build another flower bed (but not for your flowers) and fill it with some sand, soil and some louse powder. If you have a large flock you might even want to provide several spaces so all your chickens have a chance to dust bathe in the shade.
Make sure that you place the dust bath in a sheltered spot or cover it up when your chickens aren’t using it otherwise the rain might turn it into a mud bath.
Your chickens will need plenty of space during the hot summer months so make sure they aren’t overcrowded. It will be even hotter for them if they are crowded too closely together. Chickens need to be able to spread out and spread their wings for ventilation, and everyone in the flock needs to be able to drink cool water and lie in the shade at any time.
7) Cool Coop
All Omlet Eglu chicken coops have a unique twin-wall insulation system which works in a similar way to double glazing. This means they do not overheat in the summer. They are also built with a draught-free ventilation system, carefully designed to avoid air blowing directly over the roosting area whilst allowing fresh air to circulate.
If you have a wooden chicken coop, it is important to think about how you can keep the coop nice and cool for your chickens. Make sure you create plenty of ventilation either by opening windows in the coop or by using a fan. Be careful not to have too much thick and heavy bedding as it absorbs heat. Also keep an eye out for mould if you’ve got a wooden coop. Mould can make straw and hay start to rot faster, thereby producing more heat, so make sure you clean out the coop regularly and especially at any signs of mould.
If your chickens are reluctant to go into the hot coop during the day to lay their eggs you could try providing nesting boxes for them outside in cooler, shaded areas.
A familiar problem for backyard chicken keepers and commercial enterprises for laying hens, is infestation of the birds’ environment with Dermanyssus gallinae, also known as red (poultry) mites. Compared to other poultry parasites such as fowl ticks, lice and flies, mites are by far the most common, most destructive and difficult to remove. Red mites are nocturnal parasites and hide themselves in all kinds of gaps and cracks during the daytime. This makes the treatment of red mites harder and more complicated.
SIGNS AND DIAGNOSIS
Red mites are up to 1mm in size. The title “Red” has been given to this mite as it turns from grey to red after it has a blood feed. Once the infestation becomes significant, your chickens will become anaemic. Their wattles and the combs will start looking pale and their egg production will drop significantly. Red mites also cause skin irritation, feather pecking, weight loss and restlessness in the flock. Because of the mites your chickens will probably be reluctant to go to bed, because that’s where the mites are!
When checking your chicken coop for red mites, check the perch’s at the end and cracks and crevices. An even easier way to check is to run a white paper towel underneath the perches at night. If there are red mites, at this time they will be on the underside on the perch after feeding on your chickens and you will be able to see red streaks on your paper towel.
Prevention is always better than cure. But this is not always that simple. Wild birds or new chickens can transmit red mites to your coop. It’s a good idea to check for red mite routinely when you clean your chicken coop and use some preventative treatment to the coop. For example, you can use Diatomaceous earth as part of the weekly clean (DE is a 100% natural powder which dehydrates parasites it comes into contact with). All types of chicken coops can get red mite, however wooden coops tend to suffer from infestations the most.
Unfortunately red mites can survive for up to 10 months in an empty hen house, so leaving a coop empty for a while doesn’t usually fix the problem. Choosing your housing carefully can help prevent infestations. Omlet’s Eglu chicken coops are made from plastic which makes it very difficult for red mites to make a home. And in the event that there is a Red mite infestation, they are quick and easy to clean. A quick blast with a pressure washer should do the trick.
If you find lots of red mite in the coop, it’s time for a big clean up. The initial clean out will take a couple of hours for wooden coops, with a plastic coop it will take less time. Remove all birds from the house and strip the house down as much as possible. If you have a felt roof you will need to remove this and have your coop re-felted.
Use a hose (preferably high pressure) to hose down the coop and the parts. Try to get in every nook and cranny as this is where the mites like to live. Leave for 10-15 minutes to dry. After this you will most probably see more mites, which have been disturbed, crawling out. Repeat this process until there are very few mites emerging after each wash.
Leave the house to thoroughly dry. It’s ideal to do the initial clean on a sunny day as the UV can kill some bacteria and will dry the house quicker. Put the coop back together and add bedding (dispose the old bedding in a plastic bag in a bin as the red mites will happily find somewhere else to live).
5) Red mite powder
Sprinkle the whole coop and your chickens with a red mite powder. Ensure you rub the powder onto the perches so any remaining mites will have to crawl through it to reach your chickens. Omlet stocks a large range of red mite powders and diatom powders to deal with red mite infestations.
6) Repeat red mite powder treatment
Re-apply the red mite powder every couple of days or when it has rubbed of. Red mite are only active during mild weather, so in the UK the red mite season usually falls between May and October. During the fall and winter, the mites become dormant and do not feed. But this doesn’t per se mean they are gone…
We’ve been in touch with Sarah from Sussex Garden Poultry who has told us about a fantastic service that they offer to hens when their owners go on holiday…
How many Chicken Coops do you have?
I have at the moment 10 x mark 1 Eglu cubes & 8 x Eglu classic that I use for hen holidays. An Eglu Go & an old Eglu Classic with 1 mtr run I use as a broody coop
When did you get your first Coop?? Which type of Eglu was it?
The first Eglu I bought was a 2nd hand classic, I’d asked about & people said they’d owned them for 10 years with no problem & they look as good as new.
Why do you like Eglu Chicken Coops?
I like the Eglu for ease of cleaning, I love the varieties of colour, I try to have one of each, (I’m still hunting a pink cube), i also like the flexibility of being able to add to the runs length.
Please tell us more about the Chicken Holidays
I started the chicken holidays because I had potential customers who’d say ‘I’d love chickens, but what do I do when I go on holiday?’ So I said bring them back & i’ll board them for you. No one was offering this service locally so it made sense to offer hen holidays.
What is the most chickens you’ve looked after at any one time?
Difficult to say! We are usually fully booked over the summer holidays & Christmas to new year, but I have some birds of my own too, they take up 4/5 cubes, so I’ve the potential to accommodate over 100 holiday hens.
What is the longest time that a Chicken has stayed with you?
We had a trio of light Sussex that stayed about 3 months as their owner was sailing Around the Mediterranean & her progress was weather dependent!
I imagine the service is very popular…… Do you get fully booked up?
We like to take bookings a few months in advance especially for summer & Christmas, I don’t like to turn people away but each coop houses hens belonging to one family, we never mix flocks. If I’m out of space, then I’m out of space!
What is the furthest distance a customer has travelled to bring their chickens to you?
People do come a long way, but we are not that far from Gatwick airport so some drop off en route, its funny when the chickens take up more space in the car than the luggage.
What do prices start at?
Eglu classic & Go are £5 per night & take a max of 3 hens, Eglu cubes are £8 a night & take 4-8 hens. Feed included.
To find out more about Hen Holidays please view the Sussex Garden Poultry Website: http://www.sussexgardenpoultry.co.uk/home
As the weather starts to heat up we have created a list of our top tips for keeping your chickens cool in the summer months. Chickens can suffer from heat stress and stop laying eggs therefore it’s incredibly important to take measures to ensure their temperature stays as cool as possible in the heat of summer.
When chickens become very hot, you will also see them holding their wings out away from their bodies and ruffling their feathers, this is to help the heat escape. Unlike humans, chickens don’t sweat to release the heat, they pant, similar to a dog. Please keep an eye on them so that they don’t suffer from heat stress.
Signs of heat stress include:
-panting with beak open
-laying around with wings outstretched
-loss of appetite
-slow to respond to stimuli, unresponsive
Top 11 tips to help avoid heat stress
Make sure you provide plenty of shade for your hens to escape the sun. We have a variety of heavy duty and shade covers for all our Eglu runs.
Keep your hens hydrated with plenty of fresh water, why not add a few ice cubes to their glugs to keep the water nice and cold for as long as possible
Create a dust bath area for your chooks to nestle down and find a cool part in the ground.
One key tip is to look out for the signs of heat stress and act fast, if you think one of your chickens is suffering, dunk them in a bucket of room temperature water keeping their neck and head above the water. Keep them inside in the air con and make sure they get plenty of water.
Use a sprinkler/mister- the hens won’t like the water very much but it’s for their own good.
Freeze fruit and veg in ice blocks so that your hens can peck at it. Or just freeze pieces of fruit, Watermelon is a popular favourite among chickens.
Avoid foods such as corn and scratch as they require longer digestion processes, which creates more body heat.
If your local climate stays warm at night simply place a large ice block in the coop, your hens will enjoy sleeping near it at night.
Add vitamins to their water to make sure they are replacing the lost nutrients.
Pay close attention to bigger/heavier hens
Plan ahead for next year and plant a tree or bush to provide extra shade!