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 August tips for keeping chickens:
The Pekins have a new coop this month and seem rather taken with it, they’ve been clucking excitedly while exploring, rather like a group of girls in a new boutique. If you have a wooden hen house, reduce the amount of time you spend scrubbing it by lining the floor with remnants of cheap vinyl - simply turn up the sides and tip the droppings straight into the compost bin.
During summer, chickens love to dust-bathe. Shaking the soil in among their plumage helps them to keep cool and healthy, it removes excess oil from feathers and eliminates any pests. Your flock will burrow into the earth, often choosing areas by boundaries to create their hollows. You may wish to provide ready-made dust baths to prevent them undermining your fence. To do his, fill large, high-sided seed trays with dry soil, compost, sand and ash, then position in a shaded area.
- Gather nettles (wearing protective gloves) then blanch them for a few minutes and freeze in small batches. Give them to your flock for a dose of vitamin c and iron.
- Keep chickens healthy by worming them with a natural product such as verm-x.
- Once a month hang bunches of fragrant herbs, including mint, rosemary or lavender, in the coops to mask odours which are especially pungent in the heat.