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Posts Tagged ‘poultry’

postheadericon 5 Ways to Help Your Chickens Beat the Heat

With temperatures soaring to dangerous, record-breaking highs here in the middle of California, we are struggling to keep our animals cool(ish) and comfortable. We are constantly looking for ways to help the livestock and chickens beat the heat.

Chickens Beat the Heat at Red Barn Blue Skies

When the heat blows the top off of the thermometer, we have to come up with other methods of cooling the birds down – even to the point of housing them in an air-conditioned room. It is important to do everything we can to ensure the health and happiness of the critters in our care.

5 Ways to Help Your Chickens Beat the Heat from Red Barn Blue Skies

Internal Cooling System

Chickens operate with a higher core temperature than our own with a normal range around 104 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit. Because they don’t possess sweat glands, chickens are forced to pant in order to lower their body temperature. They will also hold their wings out so air can reach the bare skin under them.

Think about how it feels when your armpits are sweating and you raise them up – AHHHHHH.

Woman with Arms Raised at Red Barn Blue Skies

When the air is at least 10-15 degrees below their own temps, the birds can easily avoid being stressed by the heat. Contrary to the belief of many newbie chicken people, they actually do quite well in cold weather. But once the mercury rises, so does the danger.

The birds lose the ability to dissipate the heat on their own if their own temperature goes above 110 degrees or more. They can go from seemingly “ok” to severe distress in a matter of minutes.

So with that in mind, here are 5 ways you can help your chickens beat the heat.

Chicken Beat the Heat at Red Barn Blue Skies

Cool Fresh Water

As mentioned above, providing your birds/animals with fresh water that is cool enough to drink is the top priority – always. Notice the words in bold? COOL ENOUGH TO DRINK. You can have an entire pool in front of them, but if they can’t or refuse to drink it, it doesn’t do them any good.

Animals are just like us, if the water isn’t refreshing and is actually hot – we’re not going to drink it. Your animals not getting enough water is a critical problem as it contributes to dehydration as well as a higher core temperature.

Red Barn Blue Skies Chickens and Waterers

Place the waterers or pans in spots that are shaded all day, especially in the afternoon when it’s the hottest. If you can, have multiple watering areas and sources. Frequently topping off their water during the day with cold(er) water will help. Many people place ice cubes or bottles they’ve filled with water and then frozen, into the water pans or troughs. This helps keep the water cool enough for your birds to drink.

Poultry Vitamin and Electrolytes Help Chickens Beat the Heat

 

Adding an electrolyte solution to your birds’ water helps them replenish their stores and encourages them to drink more water. If you don’t have any poultry-approved electrolytes on hand, Gatorade or Pedialyte will definitely do in a pinch.

Added Airflow

If you are so equipped and set up, you actually could allow your birds to cool their heels in a coop that boasts some form of air conditioning. There are several ways to accomplish this:

Industrial Fans to Help Chickens to Beat the Heat at Red Barn Blue Skies

~ Evaporative or “swamp” cooler. These are fairly inexpensive and are a great way to cool off a building or room. They must have a continual water source as they cool by the process of evaporation. Keep in mind though, that once temperatures reach the century mark, they become less effective. Humidity is a side-effect of evaporative coolers that can be unwelcome when there is already a lot of moisture in the air.

~Fans and misters are an even less expensive alternative and are well-suited for both inside the coops as well as out in the runs or pens. The idea is to keep the air moving and the misters or foggers bring the temps down even more. Don’t worry if your birds are scared of the system at first, it won’t be long before they’re standing right in front of the fans with their wings spread as if for take-off.

Turken in Mud as Chickens Beat the Heat at Red Barn Blue Skies

~Wetting down the ground can help cool your birds even without a fan’s assistance. As any air moves over the wet ground, it makes the surrounding area just a bit cooler.

~ Be sure to remove anything that might block airflow to your birds. This includes equipment, tarps, and even tall grass. The more air they have moving towards them, the easier it will be for the chickens to beat the heat.

Frozen Strawberry at Red Barn Blue Skies

Tasty (Frozen) Treats

Even if you’re not in the habit of giving your birds treats, frozen goodies can be a great way to help them cool off AND encourage them to drink more water.

A very popular method of accomplishing this is to freeze bits of fruit or vegetables such as frozen peas in ice cube trays. Placing these frozen cubes in the water dishes does double duty: as the ice melts, it cools the water and as the fruit or veggie becomes more visible, the birds will investigate and peck at them. This encourages them to take in more water, even if they didn’t intend to drink it.

Help Your Chickens Beat the Heat at Red Barn Blue Skies

 

Placing black oil sunflower seeds in water dishes and letting them float around also catches the birds’ interest. Besides alleviating boredom, they’re being induced to stick their beaks in the water to capture the seeds. Think “bobbing for apples” on a chicken-sized scale.

Dustbathing Chicken tries to Beat the Heat at Red Barn Blue Skies

Let Them Pretend to Be Ducks or Pigs

One of the things that might surprise you is that your chickens WILL stand in water to cool off. Using small dishpans, cement mixing trays, and even kiddie wading pools are a great way to give them an extra tool in the fight against the heat. Walking around in a couple of inches of water helps them cool off quickly.

Contrary to what you might see in the cute videos online, chickens really aren’t swimmers. Their feathers and down becomes soaked and heavy and they sink. If they can’t stand up in a body or puddle of water, they drown. Period.

Hen and Chicks at Waterer at Red Barn Blue Skies

So when you are offering your birds water to play or stand in, keep it shallow. If you have baby chicks running around, make sure they can’t hop into a pan of water and have no way to get out. If you can’t get around it, place a brick or rock or something they can climb onto until they’re rescued.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on any water troughs or barrels that you keep filled for your large animals. It is a horrible sight to find one of your birds drowned in the horse trough.

While it may sound funny, making a nice little mud hole really can make your birds happy. They will find a nice cool spot on the ground and root and roll around, just like a pig. So don’t be afraid to make a few mud puddles for your chickens to find and wallow around in. They’ll appreciate it.

Chickens Beat the Heat at Red Barn Blue Skies

Give Them (clean) Space

Overcrowding can be a huge issue when it’s hot. While it’s never a good idea to have your birds crammed into too-tight quarters, at least in the winter that extra warmth isn’t as deadly. The birds need to have room to spread their wings out and seek cooler, moving air.

Regarding the birds’ space, keep it clean. As manure and litter decompose, they produce heat and ammonia. By removing it on a regular basis, you can help keep this unwanted source of additional heat to a minimum – plus it’s healthier for all involved. It will also reduce the number of flies and other pests which only add to the stress of an already over-heated bird.

Help Your Chickens Beat the Heat in the Shade at Red Barn Blue Skies

 

In conclusion…..

The main thing to remember is to keep an eye on your birds and be vigilant. Start with plenty of shade and water and go from there. Most of these suggestions can be adapted to your other livestock, household pets, and even yourself.

Stay cool people and beat the heat this summer. Let me know if you have other ways of keeping your animals cool.

5 Ways to Help Your Chickens Beat the Heat

redbarnblueskies.com 5 Ways to Help Your Chickens Beat the Heat 2

postheadericon Eggciting Contest for National Egg Month

May is officially National Egg Month according to the American Egg Board. It’s time to celebrate our “incredible, edible eggs” and our lovely hens who provide them to us.

May is National Egg Month at Red Barn Blue Skies

National Egg Month

If you’re like me, your hens are kicking the egg production into overdrive. You probably have fresh eggs overflowing the counters, fridge, and everywhere else you can put them. While you’re working on putting different storage methods to use, you can also try to win some great prizes with your own recipes!

Enter the Egg Challenge Contest sponsored by the American Egg Board. Celebrate with them on social media and share your favorite ways to use eggs in your everyday diet. You can win some great prizes – even an awesome KitchenAid Mixer similar to this one!

Hurry and go enter your own egg recipe- just like this personal favorite of mine – Chile Relleno Casserole. Yum!

You can enter once a day so go out and share those ideas.

 

postheadericon Chickens Fascinate Me Too Stuart

Chickens fascinate me and apparently I’m not the only one. When I was searching for a photo of MADtv’s Michael McDonald portraying Stuart for my goat parkour post, I came across a different photo of him. I had to share it as this one really hits home and says it all…

 

Chickens Fascinate Me at Red Barn Blue Skies

 

That’s really all I have for today. I’m a nerd who really misses MADtv with Stuart and Miss Swan. And chickens fascinate me too. How about you? Do you like Stuart or chickens or both?

postheadericon Protecting Your Farm with Good Bio-Security Practices

Bio-security is something every farmer or rancher should be aware of. It doesn’t matter if you have 6 pet chickens or 60 breeding birds, 5 head of cattle and 3 pigs. Protecting all of these animals is a priority. The key to keeping them safe is to use common sense and follow good bio-security practices.

 

redbarnblueskies.com Goat Kids Playing Red Barn Blue Skies

 

Ways in Which Disease is Spread

By knowing how diseases are transmitted, you can lessen the chances that your animals will contract any of them.

  • Just like people, healthy animals can become ill from sick ones. The usual methods are contaminated feed or water and actual physical contact. Dead or dying animals need to be removed immediately from common areas.
  • People can be carriers and bring disease home with them. They then spread the germs around unknowingly. It is easy to become contaminated on your person, clothing and shoes, feedbags and even your vehicle.

 

Photo of Julie's green muck boots at redbarnblueskies.com

 

Prevention is Key

Apply basic bio-security measures to every type of animal – whether domestic pet or livestock. It is less expensive and much easier to stop the spread of disease to begin with, than it is to fight it once it’s taken hold. After your animals have been exposed, it is already much harder to play catch up and you may still lose some of your livestock.

  • Good bio-security practices should become a part of your everyday routine. Any employees or visitors to your farm should be made aware of and asked to follow your rules. If at all possible, refrain from outsiders interacting with your livestock. For those deemed necessary visits, disposable clothing and footwear is a simple and useful precaution.
  • Overcrowding is something many people overlook. When you have too many animals in too small of an area, your risk for disease and illness skyrockets. Stressed animals are weakened and more susceptible to anything floating around.
  • Stay aware of local issues. Be sure you know what is happening in areas your animals may travel. This will include your dogs as well as the bull you’re loaning out for breeding. If you are told of any illness or issues, keep them home until it is resolved.

 

Red Barn Blue Skies Pig behind Fence

 

  • A simple precaution that is invaluable is to quarantine new animals. This is also good practice for any of your current animals who may be acting a little off or showing some signs of sickness. Any animals returning home from elsewhere such as a show or that prized bull who went visiting the neighbors should also do a little time in isolation. By keeping them from immediately contacting your healthy livestock, you can stop any disease from spreading if they have become carriers. A thirty-day quarantine is the widely accepted standard for this preventative measure for most animals.
  • Feed contamination can be easily prevented by keeping your feed covered, dry and free of mold. Rodents can’t ruin what they can’t reach.
  • Many other domestic animals and wildlife can be carriers of disease without showing visible symptoms. Keep contact to a minimum. This includes wild birds interacting with your poultry.

 

redbarnblueskies.com hand sanitizer bio-security

 

The Power of Clean

The number one weapon in the bio-security battle is cleanliness. Regular disinfection and having everything neat and orderly is a huge step towards fighting disease and illness on your farm.

  • All equipment needs to be cleaned regularly and disinfected when possible.
  • Regular cleaning is a necessity with ongoing manure and waste removal.
  • Always wash well before and after any contact with all animals. You must avoid the cross-contamination between healthy and sick livestock. Work with any ill or quarantined animals last in order to not carry germs or disease to the healthy ones.
  • Have your own special clothing and shoes to use when working with your animals at home. Don’t wear these clothes away from home and don’t wear your “town clothes” to the barn.

 

redbarnblueskies.com Pair of Oxen for bio-security article

 

Good Bio-Security Practices Should Become a Way of Life

The better educated you become regarding good bio-security habits, the better armed you will be in fighting the onset of disease. Stay on top of learning what illnesses are common or currently making the rounds for your particular livestock and the area where you live.

By taking precautions to keep your animals healthy, you are ultimately protecting the health and safety of you, your family and possibly your livelihood.

postheadericon Still Kicking and Clucking

It’s Alive….and clucking.

After a way too long hiatus, I’m back. In a way, a lot has changed and nothing has changed – if that makes sense. It will take me some time and many posts to bring you up to snuff. I appreciate you all still being here.

I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and sharing our little world again with you lovely people. I’ve missed you!

Here’s a clue on what I’m still doing….it does have some clucking involved too…

Alive and clucking at Red Barn Blue Skies with the guineas
If you’d like to learn more about Guineas, check out this great book.