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 July tips for keeping chickens:
With my four children enjoying their summer break we have more time to provide entertainment for the hens. My sons have been dragging branches into the enclosures, and my daughters have placed compost mixed with Barrier Red Mite Powder in the dust baths. This prevents parasites and has a lovely herbal smell.
Long summer grass can cause problems, not only grounding the power for electric fences, but also forming balls that obstruct a chicken's crop (where they break down their food). So keep grass fairly short and provide grit. Deterring insects is another summer job; spray citronella around the coop and stick fly paper up out of the bird’s reach. Hang bunches of protein- and vitamin-rich dandelions in the run, and blanch and freeze some for the winter. You might find your girls begin to moult towards the end of this month. Growing new feathers can take up to eight weeks, so give them a boost with Battles Poultry Drink.