Friday, February 23, 2018

Preparing your chickens for Spring

Now that days are getting longer and temperatures are getting warmer, it's time to get the chickens ready for spring. This is when I put away the winter chicken equipment, clean the coop, haul out the brooders and get ready for chick season and lots of free ranging!

As with the other seasons, a quick health check is in order. We all should be looking the chickens over for lice, mites, dirt balls (or poop balls) long nails, overgrown beaks etc etc on a regular basis. However, I know a lot of us forget...me included! Making sure it gets done between seasons though, makes sure we don't go too long without checking!

Preparing chickens for spring

This is the third in my seasonal series and you'll notice that inspecting the coop is always first on my list. A safe coop is your #1 line of defense against predators. Unfortunately seasonal weather and time can take their toll on the coop allowing small holes or loose boards where predators can get in. Personally, while I may be in the coop every single day that doesn't mean I'm looking around at it! These seasonal checklists remind me to take a closer look and make sure everything is in good shape.

Preparing your chickens for Spring

Check the coop: Give the coop a quick once over and check for holes or loose boards that may let predators in. As water freezes and thaws during winter it expands and contracts which can loosen boards, nails and hardware. Check the roof for leaks and patch them up before the spring rains begin.

Break out the brooder: Chick days are coming and whether you buy your new chicks each year or let your hens hatch them out, you'll want to have a brooder set up ready to go in case you need it. Check to make sure all equipment is in working order before you bring chicks home.


Clean the nest boxes: As the days get longer the hens will start laying again. It shouldn't take too long to get up to full speed on egg production, so take the time to clean out the nest boxes and get them ready for all those fresh eggs. Take all the dirty bedding out of the nest boxes and scrape them clean. If you can, remove the nest boxes and scrub them out. Allow to dry before replacing the nest boxes in the coop and filling with fresh bedding.

Clean the coop: If you use the deep litter method, spring is when you'll want to do your yearly coop clean out. Pick a nice day and get busy shoveling. Once your coop is all cleaned out use one of my 6 ways to dispose of coop bedding before refilling the coop with fresh, clean bedding.

Get ready for broody hens: After the hens start laying, they might try setting. If you're going to allow a broody hen to hatch chicks, now is the time to think about how you're going to handle it. Will she be hatching in the coop, or will you need to get her a separate cage? Or do you plan on breaking her from being broody

Prepare for rain: A little discussed fact....April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring wet chickens! Grab some extra bedding to keep on hand just in case your coop manages to catch the brunt of a rainstorm. In case of flooding, follow these simple steps to dry your coop out.

Predators: As the ground thaws and the temperatures warm up, predators are out and about and especially hungry! Check to make sure the coop is predator proof and that nothing has been damaged over winter. Look for small holes also as rats, snakes and even squirrels have been known to steal eggs or feed. While you're out there look around the outside of the coop for signs of predators.

Remove heated water bowls, but watch the temperature: Cold weather can sneak back in and beautiful sunny days can give way to freezing nights. Keep an eye out and make sure the water drinkers don't freeze. You can check your areas last expected frost date on the Farmers Almanac site to estimate when it's safe to remove heated waterers. 

Take a quick look at your chickens and make sure no mites or lice have settled in over the winter. Also check their feet and see if their nails need clipped. Chickens nails can grow long during winter when there isn't much to scratch around for and if they grow too long can make scratching difficult. 

Well that wasn't too bad, was it? Now that the flock is all ready for spring let the warm weather begin!

~L

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Spring care for chickens | infographic

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