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Egluntyne

Caring for hens in hot weather

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A few tips. :D

 

Shade

• Providing respite from the strong sun is very important. If the hens are free ranging, they will seek out shady spots under bushes etc.

• If they are to be confined to the run on a hot day, you can provide shade with an Omlet shade, or by draping the run with an old sheet or duvet cover. In exceptionally hot weather, if you spray it with water, it will help cool things down even more.

• Hens will try to seek shade in all sorts of interesting places. Be extra careful that they don’t find themselves trapped in a shed, coldframe, greenhouse or a bucket or plant pot that may tip over.

 

Water

• It is absolutely crucial that there is plenty of water available. If you have to be out during the day, it is a good idea to provide an extra drinker (or two) so that they can drink freely.

• Adding a handful of icecubes will keep it cooler for longer.

• Chopping up cucumber or grapes and putting it in a dish of water will encourage them to take in more fluid, as they ‘bob’ for the pieces.

• If you have a broody hen, encourage her off the nest to take a comfort break a couple of times a day, and try to ensure that she has a big drink.

• Soaking dried grains such as wheat in water and giving it to the broody is a useful way of getting more fluid into her.

• Adding a supplement such as Lifeguard Tonic to the drinking water can help them with the stress aspect of really hot weather.

• Place drinkers in the shade to minimise evaporation. Galvanised drinkers can get extremely hot.

 

Bald chickens

• If your hen has bald patches, they will be vulnerable to sunburn. A bit of factor 50 suncream applied to the area will protect it.

• Some like to apply sun screen to combs and wattles on very sunny days.

 

Housing

• So long as your set up is secure, you can leave the Eglu door open at night, so that the hens can cool down.

 

Parasites

• Summer is the time when red mite are at their most active, and a hot hen will be vulnerable. It is a good idea to have a strict regime of cleaning the housing with a product such as Poultry Shield.

• Diatom or red mite powder can be applied to the bird as a preventative, and diatom can be used in the housing.

• There are products such as Eprinex (not licensed for use on poultry in the UK) which can be applied to the birds as a preventative and treatment.

• If you have a broody hen, she will be particularly vulnerable to attack by red mite, so extra vigilance is crucial.

 

Normal behaviour in hot weather

• Your hen may pant to lose heat. This is perfectly normal.

• Your hen may stretch out and hold her wings out to the side in order to lose heat. This too is perfectly normal.

• Your hen will eat less and may produce fewer eggs.

• Your hen will sleep more during the day.

 

Signs that your hen might not be coping with the heat

• Floppy comb

• Excessive panting

• Collapse

 

Emergency treatment

• Syringe water carefully into beak

• Wrap in a cool damp towel. Don't stress the hen further by plunging her into cold water.

• Place in a cool dark room

 

Other tips

• Taking safety and the fox into account, it might be worth letting them free range earlier in the day, when the air is cooler and the sun is lower in the sky ...or in the evening.

• If you close them in at night, you could open the coop door earlier than usual to allow them to eat whilst it is cooler, again, bearing safety issues in mind.

•If there is no hosepipe ban in force, you could gently spray them with water, periodically, or set up a lawn sprinkler.

• Corn. As this has heating properties, it might be as well not to feed this during excessively hot weather.

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