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 November tips for keeping chickens:
The trees are almost bare of leaves, there's a nip in the air and fireworks are pervading the night skies. It must be November! This can be a trying time for the girls. Rosie, a very independent, headstrong Pekin Bantam, who's generally last to bed, is firmly tucked up before dusk, while the usually contented and mellow Buff Orpingtons are being rather tetchy with each other - disturbed nights really don't suit them! In recent years, firework displays seem to be more frequent, causing problems for some chickens. They are sensitive creatures and susceptible to stress, which affects their behaviour, Iowers their immunity and reduces egg production.
Dried lavender, either sprinkled on their bedding or placed in bags and pinned inside the coop, helps them to relax. You can also use homeopathic treatments such as phosphorous, or Bach Rescue Remedy - these anxiety-relieving solutions seem to work almost instantly (both products are available from most good health-food shops). Covering the coop with blankets can muffle the outside noise (take care not to block ventilation holes) and extra bedding will help them feel secure. During the day, I place crushed garlic cloves in filled drinkers - it boosts the girls' natural defences without altering the taste of their eggs .