A hen keeper for more than 20 years with a 300 strong flock on her Hampshire / Surrey smallholding, chicken expert Suzie Baldwin from Hollywater Hens offers her advice and January tips for keeping chickens:
My ever-reliable hybrids have so far provided a continuous supply of eggs. All the animals on the farm are eagerly watching their feed buckets for afternoon meals - it takes a lot of willpower not to give it to them earlier. The turkeys are back to normal, strutting their stuff around the yard; Christmas is over and they know they’re safe. January is always a long month of dull cold weather, so I like to cheer up my chickens with activities. A simple perch, made from a branch with some rope at either end, hung in the run, will amuse them. Drill holes in logs and fill them with mealworms, peanut butter or boiled rice – they enjoy pecking the food out. Or pierce the base of a pot of live natural yogurt, which also helps their digestive systems, mirrors placed around the run will intrigue your flock, while baby toys (check they don’t have parts the birds can swallow) create interest and can be bought from charity shops. Hanging up a bunch of greens at jumping height will ensure your hens move around, boosting their circulation while providing vitamins and minerals.