It is a well known fact that chooks go "off the lay" during the colder months. Yet my girls, I am sure don't even know that it's Winter? How do I keep the girls happy and laying? Read on for some tips and no no's......
Straw is the perfect electric blanket for their sleeping quarters. I pop down to my local co-op and get a big bale of straw and stuff all the cavities to stop drafts coming through. I also lay a cosy blanket of straw on the ground. It's looking so inviting I feel like laying down there myself.....
The difference is amazing! Note: I only use straw during the Winter months as it encourages mites and nasty itchy things in the hot weather.
The other day, I trimmed back my lavender and rather than composting it, I sprinkled the lavender all around their nesting boxes. I am sure we have the most relaxed chooks in the Southern Highlands......
A delicious scratch mix is given to them at the end of the day. They come running from all corners of the property when they hear the shaking of the bucket and my dulcet tones of "HERE CHOOK CHOOK CHOOK". The scratch mix has two pluses:
1: Chooks are easier to put away and will not be tempted to stay out past their bedtime.
2: The wheat and corn in the scratch mix is like a little electric blanket in their tummies. It aids in raising their body temperature during the night......
So they don't look like this the next day!
Garlic is great for their immunity! Slightly crush some and place into their water. Whenever I use garlic in my cooking I always throw some into the chook bucket as an extra boost.
Left over pasta are like giant worms and they go crazy for it.
There are some things that don't go into the chook bucket:
- Raw potatoes and potato sprouts. Raw potatoes are hard for chickens to digest while the green parts of potatoes and the sprouts are toxic. Although you can give them cooked potato skins.
- Rotten food. You wouldn't like mouldy and stinky food.
- Chocolate. Like I would ever share!
- No Junk food! ie McDonalds, KFC
Some garden plant LEAVES such as rhubarb, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes.
- Avocados. This is a big No No!
- Raw meat. Chooks are omnivores but my preference is not to give them meat (especially chicken) I might give them the occasional bacon rind, which results in a scrum.
Another treat that they love!
If you have a veggie garden or leftover salad and vegetable leaves, make a "bouquet of greens" Tie with some twine and hang in the chicken run. It does two things:
Stop boredom and create interest.
The different greens have lots of minerals and are excellent for their digestion.
Although lettuce doesn't have much nutritional value it is great for keeping their digestive system working well.
Free ranging is just the best. Bugs, worms, grass and a casual stroll to check what's going down around the property.
Say hello to Robbie the rooster.... I wouldn't suggest having a rooster in an urban environment....neighbours would not be terribly happy. But roosters are good at sorting out squabbles and generally keeping an eye over the girls. Think UN peacekeeper.
Robbie is also very handy in this department........
Remember Friday the chick that we raised in our bathroom for a few weeks......that's her on the right now.
Do you keep chooks? Are free range eggs important to you and your family?