As the summer is heating up so are the girls hormones! It’s that time of year when chickens decide they want to raise baby chicks, or become what we call Broody. Although we collect eggs at least twice a day, broody girls will sit in the nesting box and refuse to leave as though they are hatching eggs. They stop laying eggs, drop weight, lose feathers and get really cranky! Its not good for their health and unfortunately causes other hens to want to be broody too!
We’ve broken a couple broody hens over the last couple months but we currently have 4 chickens that are acting insane! I forcefully remove them from the nesting box when I’m cleaning or it’s free range time and they puff up until they look like turkeys, growl at us and race around the outside of the coop, banging on the doors trying to get back in! We’ve separated them into a fenced area right next to the run to keep them isolated, but they have such a bad attitude they started attacking each other!
Time for desperate measures! We bought a number of dog crates and put them inside the barn, put one broody hen in each crate and kept them there except when it was free ranging time. We gave them plenty of high protein snacks to put some weight back on and grow their feathers back. We had to keep them there for 5 days to break them, and the Easter Egger took 2 extra days beyond that! I guess this will come in handy when I need chicks hatched next year!
One of the interesting side effects of removing so many chickens is we ended up with the mother hen separated from the rest of the flock. She was horrific to deal with! The picture above is her climbing the chicken wire to fly over the 6 foot farm fence, which she managed to do! When I tried to reach for her she puffed up like a turkey growled and pecked at me! We noticed that the rest of the flock was very calm and not pecking at each other since removing her. After introducing her back she seemed to have been moved down the pecking order and everyone is getting along a lot better. Nice!!
So the flock was fully reintegrated in a week and within 2 more days we have 2 new broody girls to deal with! Time to start all over again!.
Watch as the usually shy Easter Egger show some broody attitude on their YouTube Channel:
See the broody mother hen trying to get out of her isolation pen on their YouTube Channel:
It’s 95 degrees today and the poor girls look very hot. Beaks hanging open, meandering around trying to find a spot in the deep shade. I knew this hot summer day was coming so pre-made a little treat that would help cool them off when the time came.
I found recipes from a few other blogs and decided to try it out. With many different types of cake pans I couldn’t resist making a frozen treat in a Christmas tree cake pan. It reminded me of the freezing cold winter which sounds pretty good right now!
The pan was filled with berries and chopped apples, then water was poured in until the pan was full. Sitting in the freezer for a couple days made it rock hard. This was perfect for crazy hot hens with fierce pointy beaks. They also needed a little entertainment.
The chickens are usually scared of anything new in their space and this was no different. They were so reluctant to walk up to it I had to encourage them by sprinkling their favorite scratch on it.
They carefully snuck up on the tree and delicately pecked off the scratch. Once they realized it wasn’t going to bite them it was a hit! The goal became to get through the ice to get themselves a berry. When one of the hens got to one they picked it up and immediately ran across the other side of the run with the others in chase! Rather than peck for their own berry, they’d rather steal the one everyone is after!
Silly girls. But at least their cool treat cooled them off!
Watch the girls as they try out their treat on their YouTube Channel:
It quickly jumped from winter to summer and we are hitting 90 degrees! Chickens can die from being in 85 or higher weather for a long time. The girls really stressed out last year anytime it went over 85 degrees so we did things a little different this year. We bought a shade cloth online to not only cover the top of the run but also the west side of the fence. It blocks out 60% of the sun and makes the run feel much cooler. The awning over the the coop door is just a tarp with the white side facing out to reflect the sun. It casts a shadow over the west side of the coop during the hottest time of the day.
Last year the girls had a hard time dealing with the high temperatures. You could tell they were hot when they wandered around with their beaks hanging open.You feel so bad for them! Its so nice to see only a few of the girls with open beaks this year. They are so much happier and I no longer have to worry about them!
Raising chickens naturally means using a natural cleaner during the weekly coop cleaning. We started by using vinegar but it just wasn’t enough. After researching online we found a recipe for a great smelling cleaner. Multiple sites recommend a version of it and suggest many uses for it, not just as a coop cleaner. You should give it a try! It will also save you money!
The version we made started with peeling an orange and putting the peel into a standard 1 pint jar. You can also use lemon. Add a couple cinnamon sticks or sprinkle some strong herbs in the jar then fill it with white vinegar. We found a cleaning version of white vinegar that we used. Its recommended to leave it sit for a couple months to let the oils extract from the peel. If you are in a hurry you can substitute essential oils rather than using peels.
When you are ready to use the cleaner, pour it through a strainer into a spray bottle. The ratio of water to the concentrated cleaner is 50/50. If you pour in a cup of cleaner, you add 1 cup of water.
The citrus oils really help in the cleaning process while the vinegar acts as a disinfectant. The cinnamon, or other herbs are natural antibiotics. The nice smell is just a bonus. For me, the smell of orange and cinnamon has a holiday scent that I love. It seems the girls like it too!
Watch the quick assembly on the girls YouTube Channel: