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The Omlet Blog

Why Spring Is the Perfect Time To Get Chickens!

Spring is the best time to set up a chicken coop or bring new hens home. In spring, your birds benefit from longer (and hopefully warmer) days. The garden begins to stir from its winter slumber, and the first fresh greens are available – an essential supplement to your hens’ diets. The chickens will start producing more eggs after the winter lull. They will generally look happier and livelier in this gentler climate of warmth and growth.

When should I buy point of lay chickens?

Point-of-lay hens become available in the spring, as most breeders hatch their chicks in December or January. These chickens are on the verge of laying between 16 and 22 weeks later – hence the term point-of-lay (and, indeed, the term ‘spring chicken’). This means your next generation of hens will be available at some point between mid-March and early June.

Bringing hens home at this time of year, at the very beginning of their laying lives, gives you at least three years of dependable egg production. This is a major consideration for many chicken keepers, as eggs are what it’s all about!

Red mite control

Red mites can be a problem in chicken coops, but their numbers drop drastically in the winter. Early spring is a good time to spray your chicken shed and run against these tiny blood-sucking creatures, before the warmer weather causes a population boom. Your pet supplier may stock a suitable mite spray, and failing that, you can source one from an agricultural supplier.

An even better year round preventative action is to give your spring chickens a coop that is practically mite-free. Mites thrive in traditional wooden coops with lots of nooks and crannies. Keeping hens in a state-of-the-art coop such as the Eglu range gives the pests nowhere to hide and thrive – the coop is made from easily washable plastic, and the mites don’t stand a chance!

While you’re zapping the red mites, spring is also the best time to treat the hens for parasitic worms. Again, there are relatively few of these Photo by Myriam from Pixabay                                                                          parasites in the environment at the end of winter, so treating the                                                                                                                                       chickens now is a great preventative measure.

Summer chickens

If you’re rehousing barn hens, summer is the ideal time. These birds will not be used to life outdoors, and in the summer the weather will be at its kindest, giving the hens plenty of time to acclimatise. In spring, they’ll be fine; but in summer they’ll be as happy as a newly-liberated hen can possibly be!

Ex-barn hens (and ex-battery hens too, in parts of the world where batteries are still allowed) make great pets, and in spite of having been ‘retired’ by their former owners, they will have up to two years good laying left. In the UK, you can collect these birds via an organisation such as the British Hen Welfare Trust (www.bhwt.org.uk). The advantage of this is that all the hens have been screened for good health, and you will never knowingly be given an unhealthy bird.

If you let your hens free range in the garden during summer, they will pick off pests such as slugs and flies. You may want to protect young shoots and flower beds, though, as chickens are very partial to tender young plants.

If you live in an area that experiences very hot summers, make sure your birds have plenty of shade and a well-ventilated coop. The Eglu is perfect here – relatively cool inside, even on the hottest days, and with an Eglu weather protection shields that can be fixed onto the run to provide shade all day long.

Autumn and Winter Chickens

Autumn is a great season for chickens and chicken keepers. There are lots of juicy bugs to scratch for in the still-soft ground and leaf litter, and if you have any fruit trees, there are rich pickings for the birds in the shape of windfalls.

Hens often moult in the autumn, 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.

Most chickens don’t mind the cold at all. However, they prefer not to get wet, so it’s a good idea to provide bit of extra protection with a cover for the coop, or somewhere dry for the hens to huddle. To prevent the area under the run becoming muddy, cover the ground with bark chippings.

Depending on the breed of your chickens, you will tend to get fewer eggs in the winter, but the supply will never be cut off completely. You can keep the chickens busy and healthy by using Caddi treat holders and peck toys to keep the nutritious food flowing!

Unless the winter months in your area is very harsh, your chickens will be able to keep warm by snuggling up in the coop. They are hardy birds (with the exception of some of the more delicate, decorative breeds), and will adapt to the climate. It’s always a good idea to assist them wherever you can, though, and an insulated coop such as the Eglu will go a long way towards ensuring your birds’ health and happiness in the winter months.

The takeaway message here is that even though spring is the best time to introduce new hens to your garden, they will thrive at any time of year.

 

This entry was posted in Chickens


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