Vanessa Joyce-Briggs, who loves and knows chickens so well, recently shared her chicken expertise through a workshop organized by Shoalhaven City Council Waste Services.
We are going to share with you her wisdom through a story posted by abc.net.au.
The workshop focussed on how to keep chickens happy, why chickens are a good investment for maintaining a sustainable garden, and how to look after them — especially in the summer heat.
According to Mrs. Joyce-Briggs, keeping chickens is “not rocket science” and is about getting the little things right like covering the coop with a tarp or umbrella to protect the birds from the sun and heat.
Backyard chickens a productive part of the family
She said keeping chickens was a way of assisting the recycling process in landfill environments because chickens eat food scraps, provide eggs and assist with nurturing your garden.
But those hot summer days can be deadly for chooks.
“If you notice that your chickens aren’t eating or fossicking as much as they should be, or if they go into hiding, go off the lay, or start moulting early, these are signs that the heat is getting to them.
“If you notice signs such as listlessness with their heads down, wings extended and beaks open, then you may want to check them out more closely.
A good summer diet
Mrs. Joyce-Briggs said the recommended amount of food for a chicken per day is 125 grams and like humans, chickens need to eat greens, protein and have variety in their diet.
Because they are omnivores they will eat anything from meat to bread, grains and even insects.
However, she said that when it is very hot it is best to not feed your chickens meat and bread, no rich foods at all.
Cracked corn should also be omitted also as it is a warming food — great for cool winter days but not for the heat of summer.
They have an excellent sense of smell so if something is rancid they would generally not eat it.
But if the only water they can access is warm or hot, then they will drink it.
“Place it in the shade and add fresh ice cubes regularly.”
In summer chickens need lots of greens, and she suggested freezing a two-litre ice cream container filled with spinach, lettuce, herbs, crushed garlic, comfrey and water and put that in a tray in their pen.
“Hang a cabbage or lettuce in the pen and let them peck at that. They are mostly water which hydrates the chicken. Try putting half a watermelon in there too, the chickens will love it,” she said.