A hen keeper for more than 20 years with a 300 strong flock on her Surrey / Hampshire smallholding, Suzie Baldwin offers her advice and May tips for keeping chickens:
There’s an abundance of bugs for the girls to chase and eat this month – and plenty of sunshine to laze in. As a result, I am spending too long watching their antics. Elsewhere, my daughter Clara has become a surrogate mother to three Pekin chicks – the hen hatched most of her eggs but then left the last few to become very cold. Clara warmed them inside her clothing where they hatched soon after. Honker the goose is being rather protective of his wife at the moment and the turkeys are keeping everybody amused with their courtship dance.
It’s a good idea to spring-clean your chicken house now – I like to paint mine and give them a makeover. Use an animal-friendly product such as Cuprinol’s Garden Shades range, and air it for a few days after decorating, before allowing the hens back in; put them in a box or dog cage in a garage or shed overnight, and place them in the run during the day. Adding bunting can make predators wary, as it flaps in the wind, while solar-powered lights (on stakes in the ground), when lit, change the appearance of the house so, if moved about regularly, can cause foxes to become cautious.