chickens

Wet and Miserable

IMG_1638Hurricane Irma is on the way.  We’re all really just waiting and waiting for something to happen.  By the time she gets here, we’ll all be 20 lbs heavier eating all of the food we bought to prepare for her visit and we’ll all be weak as water laying around now that everything is done in preparation for her.  Wow!

The chickens are happy today though.  I knew that tonight I will close them in their coops so I let them all free range and enjoy the fat of the land.  They have had to skip around the water puddles and in some instances grab a fly off of a floating leaf but all-in-all, they are happy to be out. I’ll let you know how  Hurricane Irma did when it’s all over.

chickens

Oh, What To Do With The Chickens During a Storm

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With the devastation and passing of Hurricane Harvey and the up-and-coming storm Irma, many are concerned about their chickens. When you have a couple of chickens, you can easily put them in the bath tub or box during a storm. If you have a handful, you could secure them safely in a crate. When you have two hand-fulls, a cage in the garage might be best but when you have dozens of yard birds, you must do something to keep them safe and all the while make them as comfortable as possible. More than likely that will occur in in the chicken yard.

On my little farm, I have 5 runs side-by-side with varied coop configurations. In addition, there are 2 very small coops for my growers. These two coops are perfect for the youngins’ but at about 3 months old, they must be moved to a larger area and somehow into one of the 5 runs and coops. Sometimes I find myself having to rearrange the girls due to size and space. As a result there is hardship on the weaker personality chickens because hen pecking is a truth. During a hurricane though, I have to let hen pecking take its course because rearranging who’s in what coup is a necessity. I definitely have to regroup and the girls don’t like it.

For some days, I’ve been planning on what to do as hurricane Irma comes closer and closer. On the internet this week, I saw a photograph of chickens wrapped in newspapers as if they were swaddled like a baby. The owners were apparently Key West evacuees and transporting their flock to safety. In truth, I was shocked when I laid eyes on the image but the more I thought about that person’s plight, it may have been an ingenious idea to keep the chickens safe and sound. Each of us have to think about our own situation so as to do the best for our flock under the conditions in which we are faced. In that person’s case, evacuating from the largest recorded hurricane on record meant taking the flock as best as possible and safely. I’ve never seen a chicken swaddled but it seemed to work well. Who am I to criticize this chicken keeper when it’s obvious that safety was the number one concern for those chickens.

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Chickens being evacuated from Key West, Florida. I do not know who to credit. There was no name available.2017- Hurricane Irma

Preparing for a storm has many facets and every chicken keeper must do what is in the best interest of his or her flock. Considering storm concerns: chickens don’t swim and can drown easily. Chickens are light and cannot endure heavy winds. Chickens are small and could easily be hurt from flying debris. Chickens have their own agenda and do not come when being called like a dog or a cat (unless you’re feeding them LOL).

Chickens Don’t Swim
Chickens are not like ducks. They can sort of float- a while. Over time though, they get basically water-logged and will drown. The are not water birds. I have a pond near the coops. The chickens scratch and eat from the basin but never and I mean never go for a swim. Ever. The most water my chickens expose themselves to is sometimes stepping in their water bucket but that’s pretty much the extent of their water foray. A storm surge could be the death of one or a whole flock of chickens so I want to do all possible to protect my animals from storm water.

Chickens are Light and Cannot Endure Heavy Winds
According to reference.com, the average broiler weighs 5.80 pounds. It would never do for a chicken to be loose in a chicken run with 80 plus mph winds. Should chickens get in the wind surge of a hurricane it could easily toss the feathered friend to and fro. Chickens must be in a safe and covered area during a storm.

Chickens are Small and Cannot Endure Flying Objects
During a storm debris is flying all over. Leaves, branches, home objects and more are being tossed all around. Chickens do not have the sense or agility to fend for themselves in such conditions. They must be inside a safe area and be taken care of during such an event.

Chickens Are Not Like Cats or Dogs

Chickens are chickens. They hunt, peck and run towards you when you have food. While they may come to you when you call, they are not like a cat or dog where they jump in your arms and wait to be carried into the house. Chickens are foragers and that is their life.

Everyone has their own ideas on what to do during a storm. Here is what I did during Hurricane Matthew and will do again when Irma comes our way.

Before the storm, I go ahead and try to put more chickens in each run so as to minimize use of coops during the storm. I use the strongest coops possible for their safety. Days before the storm, the coops are cleaned and prepared for the chickens. Fresh food and water is placed inside of the coop on storm day. This is highly unusual for our plan as they are fed in the runs on a general basis.

To settle my chickens during the storm, I divide my 40 something chickens into 2 or 3 groups and put them into the strongest coops in the barnyard. I put a rooster in each coop and my old man rooster, Buster is placed in a coop of his own. He is too old to deal with the stress of other birds plus the storm. All of the babies or teenagers are placed together in a strong run and coop as well. I try to keep together the hens who already live together but I switch up their coops so that everyone is in a different environment. I know hen-pecking is going to happen but it seems better when everyone is in new surroundings.

Depending on the time of the expected storm, I may let the chickens out or may need to keep them closed in their coops. Since chickens go inside on their own in the evening, I may need to depend on that for getting them into specific runs and coops. At that time, I find myself moving different chickens from one coop to another and I trying my best to do this during the darker part of the day so as not to upset them. We all know pecking order is a real thing but at least if they begin the pecking order it would occur the day of the storm when things are wild outside for all of them. In addition, most of them are in a new environment or coop which discombobulates them.

Safety is the number one thing so as soon as they are in their coops and mostly settled, I put one screw in the door so the strong winds cannot cause the door to fly open. During Hurricane Matthew we were told there could be winds as high as 90 mph. To protect my brood, the coop must hold fast. By the time all of the chickens are in their runs and ready for the storm, all of the umbrellas, feeding pans, hanging feeders, watering utensils, whirly gigs and more have long been removed providing a safe area free from flying debris.

During Hurricane Matthew, the chickens were in their coops for one full day and half of the next day. As rain and lightening bolted outside, I fed and watered them inside their coops. This worked well for my 40-something bunch. After the storm was over and I went out to assess the damage finding the worst situation was a huge tree over Shaq, my Jersey Giant’s coop. Not one animal was harmed and by the time I could let them into the runs, I even opened the gates into the yard and let them free range. Big day for everyone and fun was had by all! (Even the chicken keeper!)

Do what you must for your own. In Psalms it says that “every beast belongs to God” and he’s put us among them to be their keeper.

Nan

 

 

Chicken Lives Matter Series, chickens

The Sky is Not Falling, It is The Great American Eclipse: What to do with chickens

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Shaq, a Jersey Giant, tries on his NASA approved Great American Eclipse Sun Shades.(No animal was hurt during this eye exam).

 

Rare Eclipse in the United States

Tell the chickens the sky is not falling!

In the story Henny Penny, the hen gets hit on the head with an acorn.  From there she makes it a mission to go tell the king “the sky is falling”.

On August 21, 2017 some 12 million people in the United States will see the moon come between the sun and the earth , turning the earth into dusk and causing a rapid drop in the temperature. This is the first total eclipse for the United States since the 1970’s and this one will only be visible in the USA.

Many are calling this the Great American Total Solar Eclipse where from Oregon to South Carolina for about 70 miles wide the total eclipse will be seen.  Far and wide, all chicken keepers should have a serious talk with the flock to assure them the sky is not falling, it’s just The Great American Eclipse.

Here is a run down on what might be done to help keep the chickens safe:

1. The sky is not falling as Henny Penny may think, so have a discussion with your chickens concerning what is about to occur in their lives. Explain that this is a special event in the world and that although it will get dark during the day, it does not mean it’s time to retire.

2. Provide ample food and water for your birds as this may be a stressful time and generally speaking when live beings go through stress they like to eat and drink.

3. Remind your free-rangers that being aware of predators is still an issue. Because of this incredible event in history, a great many people will be off work and therefore will have their dogs possibly running free. Just because this is a huge phenomenon it would still be important to be vigilant. Other predators may be confused too and it is unknown how they will react to this special time.

4.. It will be important to note that a rapid drop in temperature will occur due to the sun being covered by the moon leaving the earth without the warmth of the sun. Remind the chickens that they may need to ruffle feathers for a short time during this brief cooling off.

5. Chickens should be reminded that they must stay on the egg-laying schedule. The brief darkness should not affect their egg production. The total eclipse should last only minutes. The very longest solar eclipse time will be 2 minutes and 38 seconds and that will be in Carbondale, Illinois.

6. It is doubtful, due to a chicken’s size that they would look into the area of the sun so glasses for chickens are probably not needed. However, for humans, NASA approved glasses should be worn. The chickens will need their keeper to be safe for future care.

7. This is an historic event and depending on where you’re located, it could be the event of the century for you. It is said that being in the “path of totality” will be an unforgettable experience.

Nan

The Chicken Matters Blogger

Chicken Lives Matter Series, chickens

Chicken Breeds

 

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The Poultry of the World poster- 1868-Library of Congress

American Game Bantam- (United States)

Characterisitcs– Hardy and often small, hardy birds, good egg layers, small birds, do better free ranging.

Personality- skittish, nervous

Color– Variety of colors, generally dark

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Americaucana, ( United States)

Characteristics– Many times called the “Easter egger”. Various light color blue eggs.

Personality-Adaptable, easy to work with, good with people, easy to manage.

Color– Variety of colors including white and black,

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Araucanas– (Chile)
Characteristics– Rare breed, Many times called the “Easter egger”. High mortality rate, Various light color blue eggs.

Personality-Adaptable, easy to work with, good with people, easy to manage, Non- aggressive

Color- Very unique appearance, no tail, ear tufts, Variety of colors including black , white silver, black red. Light blue eggs.

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Australorp (Australian)
Characteristics– Brown eggs, excellent egg layer,

Personality-Adaptable, easy to work with, good with people

Color– Black with large volumed body, Some have black ear lobe

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Names- Australorp, game, pit, langshan

Barnevelder (Netherlands)

Characteristics-Beautiful large bird. There are many dedicated groups who raise only this type chicken. The eggs are copper in color. Egg color is brown.

Personality– easy going, tentative,

Color- Black with copper in rounded or lace feathers, tints of green. Dark heckles, very red cone and waddle, black lobe. black with copper, and almost a green feather, red waddle and cone and black lobe, Rooster has a partridge plumage, Hens has a matching look as the rooster

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Buff Orpington ( United Kingdom)

Characteristics-Adaptable, easy to work with, good with people, egg color is brown

Personality-Adaptable, easy to work with, good with people

Color– Light copper, bright orange, red waddle and cone, white lobe

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Easter Eggers (United States)

Characteristics– Green, blue, pink color eggs, good with humans, small birds,

Colors vary copper and black, black and silver, copper and gold and black

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Barred Rock– (United States)

Characteristics-Adaptable, easy to work with, good with people

Personality-Adaptable, easy to work with, good with people

Color-Black and white and beautiful. These are dainty yet hardy birds. They are good egg layers.

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Brahma

Characterisitcs-You can find this bird’s photograph on the front of the feed bag at Tractor Supply. This is a plump chicken, hardy and great for keeping the eggs on the table.

Personality- Good with people, easy with children

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Jersey Giant ( United States)
Characteristics- Good laying and prone to be broody,

Personality-Adaptable, easy to work with, good with people

Color- black,

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Leghorn ( Italian, United States)

Characteristics- Heritage breed, Small petite birds until they grow large and healthy. The male has a huge wattle and tall legs. The ear lobes are large and white. These birds are quick and agile with a fan tail. Good egg layers.

Personality- Our Leghorn are white in color. We have 4 hens and a rooster at this time. The rooster has a hot red comb while the hens have small combs and wattles. The all-white leghorn compared to the deep red comb and wattle really make them stand out. I’ve found these to be skittish more than other chickens that I have. They are quick and agile.

Color-The leghorn is generally white with bright red wattles.Theere are non-white Leghorns. The legs and toes are yellow. White eggs.

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Marans– (United States)
Characterisitcs- Good egg layers,

Personality- Easy with people, sometimes nervous, good egg layer

Color- Black with copper on the chest and down the front. Eggs are chocolate.

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Plymouth Rock, Barred Rock ( United States)

Characteristics- Dual purpose bird, produces a great many eggs. large eggs,

Personality- Adaptable, easy to work with, good with people

Color- Black and white striped-type- Black and white runs horizontal, red cone and waddle, gray beak, red lobe, brown eggs

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Rhode Island Red (United States)
Characteristics- Produces a lot of eggs, friendly breed, large eggs, brown eggs,

Personality-Adaptable, easy to work with, good with people

Color- Burgundy in color, brown eggs, red cone and waddle,

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Silkie
Characteristics- Nervous, good with children

Personality-Adaptable, easy to work with, good with people

Color- White with furry look, white ear lobe, cream or tinted egg color,
Names- cochin, pekin, croad, silkie, nankin

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Welsummer-

Characterisitc— Good with people, easy to work with

Personality- Good with people, easy to work with

Color- Eggs are chocolate

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Wyandottes (United States )
Characteristics-  Nice hardy bird for both table food and egg laying.

Personality-Adaptable, easy to work with, good with people but can be stubborn and can bully.

Color- Eggs are brown

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Blog31Days, Chicken Lives Matter Series, chickens

National Ice Cream Day and Chickens!

Chickens are like any other pet you might have. You love them. Just as you would celebrate any pet’s birthday or some celebratory day such as “National Dog Day” or Cat Fancier’s Friend Day, chickens would enjoy a celebration as well. There are a few chicken celebration days such as – Rotisserie Chicken Day( June 2) Chicks Down South Month (August) and Chicken Lives Matter Month(November) and Chicken Dance Day(May 14) but it’s always good to stretch the love when you can.

Today was National Ice Cream Day so, we(us chickens) celebrated with a Nutty Butty. It was oh such fun too!  I hope you celebrate different events with your chickens.

Below are some farm related celebrations that you might consider with your yard birds.

 

January 5- National Bird Day
Jam 14- National Dress Up Your Pet Month
Feb- National Bird Feeding Month
Feb National Wild Bird Feeing Month

Feb 17-20- Great Backyard Bird Count
2nd week Feb- Homes for Birds Week
Feb 14-21- National Nest box Week

March 14-18- National Wildlife Week
March 19-25- National Poison Prevention Week

April-Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month
April 1 (First Sat of April)- National Birding Day
April 4- World Rat Day
April 8- Draw a Picture of a Bird Day
April-10-16-National animal control Appreciation Week

May- Be kind To Animals Week
May 4- International Respect for Chickens Day
May 8- National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day
May 14- Chicken Dance Day

June 2- Rotisserie Chicken Day
July 16- National Ice Cream Lovers Day
June 18- Turkey Lover’s Day( 3rd Sun in June
June 18-24- Animal Rights Awareness Week-

July Wild about Wildlife Month
July 1- American Zoo Day
July 22- Rat Catcher’s Day

August- Chicks Down South Chicken Celebration
September
16-23 National Farm Animals Awareness Week(3rd week Sept.)
September 29- Happy Goose Day

October- National Animal Safety and Protection Month
World Animal Month

October
October 21- Reptile Awareness Day

November 1- Chicken Lives Matter Month

December 14- Christmas Bird Count Week (Dec. 14- Jan 5
December 4- World Wildlife Conservation Day

Let the Fun Begin,

Nan
#chickenlivesmatter

Chicken Lives Matter Series, chickens

The Eyes Have It

Day 15- Blog 31 Day Event- 

The Eyes Have It- Chicken Eyes Matter

Chickens rely on their sense of sight in order to live and most assuredly if they free range or if they live in the wild. There are atleast 15 free range chickens on my dad’s land and really they are neighborhood chickens. No one claims to own them and no one feeds them. They truly live off the land. These wild birds must live by their wit and part of their keen living is that of having incredible eyesight.

Chickens can snatch a gnat out of the air in less than a nano-second. They can peck up an insect from the ground among a pile of leaves and debris. They have the ability to forage the forest with ease using their keen eyesight and beak. Due to the chicken’s quick eye sign, they have excellent motion sensing

Chickens have 3 eye lids; an upper lid, lower lid and a covering eye lid. Just as a human has a cornea, a chicken does also. It is clear and covers the iris and pupil of the eye. A chicken’s pupil is also like a humans in that it is the center black circle in the middle of the eye. With chicken’s eyesight the light enters the corner and iris and stimulates the retina nerve endings in the back of the eyeball. Chickens have tetra-chromatic vision. Humans have tri-chromatic vision. The Iris is the area of a chicken’s eye that has color.

Chicken’s have keen and sharp eyesight. As a result, they are often find themselves spooks by the quick movement of something. This is why a flock of chickens might run quickly towards their coops if they catch an eyeful of something moving quickly across the sky. This keen eyesight was an adaptation given by God in order to help chickens ward off predators. Many a life has been saved by being quick to find cover or run to safety.

Chickens do not roll their eyes. I fact if you are around chickens often enough, you will see their 3rd eye or eye-covering open and close periodically. Very often when they sleep they might close that part of their eye and when chickens are sick that eye often can be seen. Unlike a human, the outside eye lid of a chicken does not blink and chickens do not blink like traditional animal’s eyes.

Chickens do not see well far away nor do they see well at night. As a chicken keeper, I have seen my hens run into a deep corner after dark and appear totally discombobulated. That is why chickens are wired to go into their safe space at dusk.

Chicken Lives Matter

Nan

 

References: Mike The Chicken Vet , Dummies-Poor Sigh and Sore Eyes in Chickens, by Julie Gauthier and Rob Ludlow,

Blog31Days, Chicken Lives Matter Series, chickens

Happy Independence Day for Chickens

chickenredwhtieblue

Do you know that chickens love their independence? They do! We have our chickens in 6 runs. We try our best to keep them by breed. The first run has Jersey Giants, the 2nd has Rhode Island Reds, the 3rd hosts Buff Orpington, the next, Ameraucana , the 5th houses one huge brute of a rooster aptly named Buster and the 6th run is home to our teenage group; a mixture of breeds soon to be divided into the stable runs mentioned. We feed twice a day but we check on them often to be sure they have ample grazing food and fresh water.

When we come out to our runs, the chickens gather at the doors almost pushing them open. They want their independence. They do not want to be closed in the runs all of the time depending on us to feed them and so often during the week, we open the gates and give them their freedom. They are free to roam our acres and enjoy the fat of the land.  They can go, do and be…

Now there are restrictions. We monitor their whereabouts all day when they are out. We constantly walk the road, look down the paths, look specifically for certain ones that may appear to be AWOL(absent with out leave). While they are allowed to have their freedom, we do expect each yard bird to be on her best behavior. If they are in the road, we shu them back to the yard. If they jump in the feed bin, we run them away. If they eat the garden and plants, we scold them, so there are definite restrictions. We do this for their safety. We don’t want them to get into trouble or to bother the neighbors.

Today we celebrate our Independence as a Nation. This is a very special day for our country. The significance of this day is that the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress in 1776. This would remove our country from the rule of Great Britain. We as a Nation would be free. During this time it was said that “these United Colonies are, and of right, ought to be free and independent states”.

We celebrate the birth of our Nation, The United States of America. The people of these colonies wanted to be free. They wanted to go where they wanted to go, do what they wanted to do and make choices themselves and not be beholden to Britain. As the ceremony was begun in the reading of the Declaration of Independence and the Liberty Bell rang out, the coat of arms of the king of England was removed. Cannons blasted and “a new nation sprang to life”. (Pat Boone, Newsmax.com)

We all want our freedom and chickens do too. Just as our Nation found it’s freedom chickens need independence as well.  (Did you know where I was going with this story? LOL)

Here are 5 ways to provide independence for your chickens:

1. Open the chicken doors and allow your chickens to free-range in your yard.(foot loose and fancy free) .

2. If you cannot completely allow free-ranging, set up an area to change it up for your flock allowing them to graze in a different place than their normal run. (Use a baby gate, small fence, plastic fencing or netting to help you).

3. Select a few days a week to allow free-ranging. Maybe you cannot do this every day but you possibly can a few days a week.

4. Sometimes we allow free-ranging at the late time of the day because we know it gives them a limited time to be free in the yard which keeps them closer to the coops.

5. Place them in a separate fenced area for free-ranging. ( We have a backyard fence and sometimes we put them in that area and close the door allowing them to free range inside that fenced area. What area could you use?

Whatever you do and however you can provide Independence day for your chickens, try to do it for their physical health and mental health.

Nan

#chickenlivesmatter (Join our Facebook group!)

chickens

Chickens and Water- No Like!

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Meet Lillie. She’s just gone through a Florida storm.  When I went to find out where she was during the rain storm, she was found beneath the coop in the dry.  As the storm continued and finally subsided, she found her way out into the grassy area to look for insects and the like.

 

 

Ducks and chickens both have feathers but they are different in their love for water.  Duck keepers set out small pools, provide ponds or containers to satisfy the duck’s love for water.  The chicken keeper creates coverings, hideaways, and dry spaces for the chicken.

While chickens will spend time in the rain, it is generally after they have already gotten wet and have determined it is the only way to forage and possibly get some food by pecking and looking around.  As  a general rule, chickens do not like water.  Chickens prefer dry and even warm temperatures and shun damp and wet spaces.

In terms of water, chickens often are found walking in their watering tub but on a whole it is to move other chickens out of the way to get a better spot for quenching their thirst or showing dominance by getting in first and foremost.   Chickens, for the most part avoid wet spots and moist spaces and if you watch carefully you will see a chicken side-step a puddle to avoid it rather than paddle on through.

As recent as today, we had a Florida thunder storm.  The lightening bolted and the thunder roared.  I walked out on the balcony of the bedroom to see what the chickens were doing and only one was found standing in that downpour.  Lena was apparently trapped by the fenced area and couldn’t figure out how to get under the dry coop with the others.

In our case, we have open runs with places where the girls and 3 roosters can go during rainy days. Our runs include metal coverings and umbrella to protect food from getting wet. If our chickens do not get under those dry areas, or go inside the coop, they will get wet.

Today, as the storm subsided, I noticed several of the chickens venture out until all of them were pecking and enjoying rummaging the ground as the light mist upon their backs continued.  I don’t think they enjoyed getting caught in the downpour or even eating during the misting time but probably decided it was what it was and off they went into the yard to find food.  They could each be seen shaking off water off of their backs.  Chicks are obviously not fans of water unless it’s for drinking and they tend to drink most any kind . If you’re a chicken keeper, you know what I’m talking about.

5 things to do for your chickens during rainy days:

1.  Provide a dry place for them to go during the rain. Possible ideas for rain cover is metal, umbrellas, beneath coops, under nesting boxes.

2.  Prepare for the rain by placing umbrellas, tin or wooden pieces over corners of the run if your runs are uncovered.(We are in Florida.  There are times we are able to plan for the rain and other times the winds are too strong.  On occasion we have to literally pick our chickens up and put them inside the coop so do what you must to protect your flock.

3.  Keep coops open during rainy days. Sometimes they will actually go inside the coop during a rain storm.

4.  If you do not have a dry place for food during a rain storm, pick up food before the wet period. This will save you money as chickens will not eat soggy food.(Rats will tho! argh!)

5.  After stormy days clean out your coops.  The rain causes such a mess and wets the bedding in coops.  Chickens need a warm dry place for roosting at night.

Nan

#chickenlivesmatter