chickens in coop

Keeping chickens – September tips

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 September tips for keeping chickens:

We've been busy moving the coops nearer to the large barns and hedges that will provide shelter from the elements later in the autumn. The barn has been fllled with straw, which made for hours of fun for my children and chickens alike, while the sheds where the chicks were raised in spring and summer are now clear and disinfected; they will remain empty until we start hatching again next year.

With the nights beginning to draw in, it's also time to spruce up your run, if it is fixed. For bare ground that is prone 
to becoming water logged: after turning over the earth, removing any heavily soiled areas and spraying with Virkon -S disinfectant, add a good, deep layer of bark and some lengths of timber for
 your birds to perch on and explore. Place slabs around the outside of your fencing, as this not only gives you a path to walk on but helps prevent predators digging in. Similarly, check feed bins for signs 
of rodents, which maybe moving into more sheltered places - especially if corn and layers pellets are available - and remember to sweep up any spillages.

Click here for details of Suzie Baldwin's hen keeping courses at Hollywater Hens, and have a look at some more of Suzie's tips for keeping chickens

Pekin chicken

Keeping chickens – August tips

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.


 

HENKEEPING TIPS

  • 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.

Click here for details of Suzie Baldwin's hen keeping courses at Hollywater Hens, and have a look at some more of Suzie's tips for keeping chickens

Blue hybrid Chicken

Keeping chickens – July tips

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.

pink feeders 2

new enclosure 1

Click here for details of Suzie Baldwin's hen keeping courses at Hollywater Hens, and have a look at some more of Suzie's tips for keeping chickens

Chickens for sale at Hollywater Hens in Hampshire

Keeping chickens – June tips

A hen keeper for more than 20 years with a 300 strong flock on her Surrey / Hampshire smallholding, Suzie Baldwin offers her advice and June tips for keeping chickens:

With increased daylight, all our jobs around the smallholding are getting done. Unfortunately, however, 
the foxes are rather active so
 checks on the electric fencing and wire runs are being done regularly. Two of my Buff Orpington
 hens are sporting saddles to protect them 
from the cockerel's 'treading', as he's very amorous in June. Even though we trim his
 spurs, they can damage the girls' backs.

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red mite powder

An early start

A very early start today. On the 1st of every month I red-mite, worm and give all of my girls a good hands on health check. Handling your girls is very important to keep them in tip top condition. It is difficult to visually see weight loss with all their feathers in the way. Mites are very tiny so regular checks and dusting will save you a lot of time in the long run – prevention is always better than cure. Adding a clove of peeled garlic (slightly crushed) to their water will help to boost their immunity, it is also thought that mites do not like the taste of the girls when they are taking garlic in so it helps keep them at bay! Don’t forget some diatomaceous earth dusted into the coop – it helps make the girls’ environment uninhabitable for the mites. With about 300 girls to do here its going to take me a while !

girls rule the roost

May tips for keeping chickens

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.

Click here for details of Suzie’s hen keeping  courses and have a look at some more of Suzies tips for keeping chickens

Summer Daisies in a watering can

April Tips for keeping chickens

A hen keeper for more than 20 years with a 300-strong flock on
 her Surrey/Hampshire smallholding, Suzie Baldwin offers her advice and April tips for keeping chickens.

Two of my pekins Fluff and Ethel are the proud Mothers of 18 chicks; they call them with
 a short, low cluck, which gets quicker and louder if their young fail to respond. They remind me of myself and my brood. Every morning, I calmly ask the children to make their beds and get ready for school and, as time ticks on and jobs aren’t being done, 
I raise my voice in a similar fashion. More chicks have hatched in the incubators so the nursery is very full and noisy. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, the March chicks, weather-permitting, will be out in the field with the sun on their feathers and the lush grass in their crops, giving them the best start in life.

April is a popular month for people to start keeping chickens. It’s important to take time to do research, especially when it comes to finding a well-designed coop with adequate ventilation, good perches and nest boxes, and strong bolts to secure it at night, plus a run that’s partly under cover for sheltering in bad weather. The house is the most costly part of hen keeping but a quality one is worth the investment. The good news is that other essential equipment such as feeders, drinkers, food and straw (for bedding), plus wormers (try Verm-X) and red-mite control products (I use Diatom), are relatively inexpensive.

chickens

March tips for keeping chickens

  • ADD…two peeled, slightly crushed garlic cloves into chickens’ water to boost immunity
  • CHECK…the coop thoroughly for evidence of red mites – they hide in even the smallest cracks and crevices
  • GROW…salad leaves on windowsills to provide hens with greens year-round
frosted fence

February tips for keeping chickens

  • GROW…wheat on a windowsill or in an airing cupboard – chickens love the sprouted seed
  • TURN…over the ground in fixed runs, apply disinfectant and add fresh bark
  • MAKE…an all round tonic using dried seaweed to promote health, increase egg yield and darken yolk colour
ducks in snow

January tips for keeping chickens

  • Make a scarecrow, spray it with perfume and place it by the run to deter the foxes
  • Boil and mash potato peel, mix with oats, bran and cod liver oil to keep chickens warm
  • Check hens’ vent area for small and straw-coloured lice; if you see them, use louse powder