The Spring Chooklist: Your Guide to Happy Chickens this Season

by Backyard Chicken Coops September 22, 2017

If you’ve never had chickens, you've found us at just the right time of year. Spring is the absolute best time to discover the joy that is fluffy-butt Fridays (and all the other chicken days too).

If you do already have chickens - you’re definitely in the right place. We may not necessarily have advice on how to handle your mother-in-law (...does she like chickens?) but we do know a thing or two about poultry. Ten years of building homes for them will do that! Now - let's get straight into that Spring Checklist (or 'chooklist')!

 

Stay cool mother flocker

chickens-eating-frozen-berriesWe don't mean bust out your best Samuel L Jackson impression - we mean keep those clucker's out of the heat! Australia’s just had our warmest winter on record - and neither Spring nor Summer look like they’ll be bucking that trend.

Keeping your cool is a priority for any chicken - and you can help them by providing shade, plenty of fresh water and cooling treats. Yoghurt, frozen corn, chilled or frozen grapes and blueberries are favourites for our chooks.

If you bought your coop from us, you’ll already know about the features that make it perfect for the Aussie climate. The chimney and windows aren’t just for show - they allow for ventilation and cool air flow throughout the hutch, and the raised position allows air currents to flow through the run as well. But for the ultimate in cool chook protection, you can't go past our Shade Cloth for the Taj Mahal, Penthouse and Mansion Run.

If you didn't buy your coop from us, that's ok too. You can make up for it by upgrading now. Have you seen our Mansion Chicken Coop and Double Run? ;)

 

Get your chooks in on some dusting action

While they probably would be pretty good at feather-dusting some windowsills and knick-knacks around the house... that's not what we mean. In this instance, 'dusting' is the application of diatomaceous earth -'DE' - both on (and in) your chooks and around the coop. Our Food Grade DE helps prevent and treat mites, lice, fleas and worms when used as a topical application and additive to their food. In most cases, 6 monthly treatment will keep most of the nasties at bay.

diy chicken spa dust bathWe treat our own chookies twice a year - in Autumn and Spring. Spring - because you're able to get a jump on things before it heats up too much and if you're doing a total clean of the coop anyway it's best to start out fresh. Autumn because it's when the dreaded moult begins and those little biters are at their most prevalent. While you dust your chooks - either with DE or a gentle insecticide like Pestene Powder, make sure you give them a once over - check their feet and legs, combs & wattles, eyes, beak, nails, feathers, vent and crop. Basically - check that they're still a chicken; a happy and healthy fluffy thing that waddles around your backyard.

 

Spring Clean! (aka - putting the kids to work)

natural chicken coop cleaning productsOf course with Spring comes the obligatory Spring Clean. This may seem like an insurmountable task when it comes to the chicken coop - like Edmund Hillary staring skyward from the foot of Everest - but with us as your Tenzing Norgay you’ll scale it in no time.

We’ve put together a step by step guide to ensure you’re not spending ages doing chores on the weekend - but one chore that is important in Spring is the re-painting or re-oiling of your coop. Paint will usually protect your coop for 2 - 3 years before another coat is required, but if you decided to go for the ‘natural’ look and use oil - you do need to reapply at least every six months. (Bet you regret laughing at the couples fighting over colour swatches in Bunnings now, aren’t you?).

Once your coop is painted and clean don’t forget to lay down fresh bedding (obviously we reckon you should be using Hemp Bedding - but if you’re using straw or hay we won’t hold it against you). While you’ve got the cleaning implements out - be sure to give their feeder and drinker a quick scrub, as well as any playthings or extra perches. Don't forget - your garden or compost will absolutely love the addition of the mucked out leavings from the coop.

See? Told you we'd make an awesome chicken sherpa. A 'chirper'.

 

Turn your thumbs green

If you’re a gardener you’ll know that now’s the time to get out and get planting. Almost everything can be planted in spring, with the awkward exception of spring flowers. But if you put bulbs in the ground back around Mother’s Day you should be rewarded with sprays of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and lilies about now. If you didn't - well, there’s always next year. We'll give you a reminder. In the meantime, prepare now for your winter veg; Pumpkins, Zucchini, Cucumber and Squash are all vines that will clamber along fences and open ground - and will live quite happily with your chooks.

flock of backyard wyandotte chickens

Other Spring lovelies to plant in all climates (except the arid inland) include beans, beetroot, broccoli, beetroot, corn, eggplant, onions, melons, spinach, strawberries, sweet potato and tomatoes. But be sure to fence your ladies off from these - not just to protect your future crop - but because plants like onions, beans and nightshades (tomatoes, eggplants, capsicum and potatoes) all contain toxins that are no good for little chooky tummies!

You can however, plant exclusively for those fluffy butts. Easily grown plants like Amaranth, Millet and Lucerne provide grain that’s probably already in your chicken feed, while Pak Choi, Silverbeet, Chicory and Salad Mallow make a healthy salad your chooks can forage for themselves. Seeds for all of these plants are in our Chook Grub Packs - available in all our Spring Coop Packages - and they’re also in our range of accessory bundles

 

Bring home the ladies

During Autumn and Winter egg laying usually slows - and in some cases, stops - so there can be a shortage of brand new chicklings from your local breeder - no eggs means no baby chicks! However, we’re now officially past the first 21 days of Spring - so you’ll shortly have a bountiful bevy of beautiful biddies to choose from!

Chicks and Pullets are generally cheaper than point-of-lay chickens, but be aware that chicken’s won’t begin to lay until they’re 16 - 24 weeks of age. Buying younger chickens does give them plenty of time to acclimatise to your backyard and meet any other feathered (or furred) friends that also call your home... uh, ‘home’.

fancy chickens frizzle polish barnevelder belgian duccle

You could try mixing things up with some more exotic varieties - Polish, Frizzles, Barnevelders or Belgian D'uccles (Left to right above) - or alternatively give a lady a helping hand by adopting a rescue chook. Egg farms generally look to replace their older girls with new pullets in Spring, so you could give one (or more) a home for the many years they’ve still got left in them.

Finally - if you’ve got a rooster - or you can get your hands on one, you can make your own little chookies! We've previously outlined why Spring is the right time for hatching - but just remember that chances are you’ll get both guys and gals from your brood - so make sure you’ve got a plan for handling them both.

You can download our recommended breeder list here, or find out more about adopting an ex-battery hen here.

So that pretty much wraps up our Spring Essentials. If we forgot to mention it - our spring packages are here, so 'Spring' to it!

To share your tips for Spring - and for more terrible puns - join our communities on FacebookInstagramTwitter and Pinterest - or sign up to our newsletter below!




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