Chickens - Things to do this Month - August
CHICKENS (Laying Hens):
At this time of year your hens should be looking and feeling their best:
Signs of good health:
- Full, bright and velvety ‘headgear’ (comb & wattles)
- Full, round and bright eyes, not sunken or cloudy
- Good, smooth feathering
- Neither thin or over-fat
- Steady respiration, no panting or wheezing
- Active, moving freely
- Laying well and producing regular, perfect eggs
Routine & Care
- If a few of your hens are coming into early moult this year due to hot weather and long cloudless days, then see the 'Annual Moult' section in our article “Basic Principles of Rearing and Management of Chickens” for ideas on how to help your hens at this stressful time
- In addition to their layers pellets or mash, give them plenty of greens (lettuce, cabbage, etc.), especially if they don’t have access to grass
- If they are on grass, you should mow the area regularly to keep it short – long grass can obstruct their crop; and, by allowing the sun to penetrate the sward, parasite (worm) eggs are desiccated and killed (but you will still need to monitor your hens using Faecal Egg Counts, and worming as necessary)
- Try to rest at least part of their run for a few weeks on a rotation basis – this will help to break the parasite lifecycle
- The main Spring breeding season is now past, but there are still ways to replace or increase your flock: from buying ‘POL’ (point-of-lay) hens, to hatching eggs – from your own hens if you have a cockerel and a broody hen, or buying in fertile eggs to hatch in an incubator, but remember, chicks hatched late in the season will need to be well grown before Autumn chills arrive, so don’t leave it too late!
If you’re just starting out with hens and can’t decide which breed will suit you best, have a look at our Guide to Chicken Breeds. If you decide to get a mix of different breeds, it’s best to choose those that are roughly the same size to prevent the smaller ones getting hen-pecked.
For more information on keeping chickens and increasing your flock, visit our Basic Principles of Rearing and Management of Chickens.