Friday, 3 January 2014

The Rain it Raineth Everyday!

Here in the Blackmore Vale in the centre of Dorset, things are beginning to move past damp, through soggy and onto just being wet. The rivers have been up over the roads, puddles up over my wellies and Notus the bringer of storms has seemed to sit endlessly over our little corner of the countryside. Even the Flyte so Fancy ducks and geese are beginning to look fed up with it all. But while our ducks and geese are just about happy sitting around in the rain, over the Christmas holiday we have been keeping a weathered eye on our flocks of chickens, to make sure they they keep dry and sheltered.

It is always important that your hens have somewhere nice and sheltered to stay out of the rain (or the sun for those three days in July that it decides to shine) to keep dry. While soggy feathers is bad enough, it is equally important to give them somewhere out of these strong winds. Wind through the feathers can quickly turn a hen cold, especially smaller bantams, so having a shelter or perhaps a wind proof skirting around the bottom of your run (see picture below of our Gold Sebrights enjoying the protection of a wind proof skirt on their Aviary 8) can work wonders in keeping your chickens happy by preventing them being buffeted by the wind. Sheltered spots are also ideal for feeders and drinkers to stop them blowing over in this high winds, leaving your hens without food or water and ending up a waste of time and money.

Chicken Coop with protection from the wind and rain

Another good addition in this horrible weather to keep your hens sheltered is a polycarbonate roofing for your run. Fixed to the existing run roof panels, this lightweight roofing will provide a dry area for your girls as the rain water runs down the roof and to the side. Another advantage is that it stops your chickens feeders and drinkers becoming contaminated from outside by wild birds and other such things.

Poultry Protection Pen Woodchip

I would be surprised if there is a dry area left in anyone's garden. The ground is saturated and with more rain on the way it doesn't take long for soil to become a mud bath. A mud bath that our beloved girls will have to hitch their skirts to wade through. Here at FSF HQ we have been topping up all of our poultry housing with runs and poultry protection pens with a few extra bags of hardwood woodchip to keep our girls clean and dry. Sitting on top of the mud, the woodchip provides a barrier for chickens to walk on and being a hardwood woodchip will not turn to mulch (like bark does!) as soon as it gets wet but remain an effective barrier to mud spreading through your run. A good layer of woodchip is vital during weather such as we are having at the moment. A clean dry run, as well as having the added advantage of being far more hygienic for your hens, will keep your chickens happy during all this rainy weather.

Woodchip for Poultry Pens

A dry sheltered hen is a happy hen and while the "Rain it Raineth Everyday" keeping your chicken coop clean and tidy is a daunting task. However, as we know here at Flyte so Fancy, with more rain forecast for the next week or so, a few simple precautions, like shelter and a dry surface to walk on can make all the difference in keeping your hen healthy and happy in this abysmally wet winter we are having.  

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