Chickens - Things to do this Month - June
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 you see your chickens pecking their feathers, they may well be harbouring some uninvited pests – see our new Guide to Ectoparasites of Chickens
- 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
- Feeding garlic (fresh chopped, or dried granules) can help repel gut worms in chickens
- Another herbal favourite of hens is Oregano – sow some seeds on a windowsill or in a propagator, and they’ll have their favourite herb all summer long (and you may get pizza-flavoured eggs!). Interestingly, oregano oil (with an olive oil base) has been used with great success as a substitute for widespread use of antibiotics in commercial-scale organic poultry units.
- Spring and early summer is the ideal time to replace or increase your flock, and there are various ways to go about this: 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.
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.