Raising-Chickens.org Newsletter #15
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Early Summer 2012!
Almost anywhere you live, springtime and summer offer a bounty of fresh greens and foods for your chickens. If at all possible, letting your chickens out of their yard into lawns and garden or pasture areas will increase their health and the healthy contents of their eggs and meat. If you can free range your chickens, springtime and summer in many places can offer the most natural chicken foods that they love. Remember that chickens will scratch the ground and dig dust baths in dry areas. They may disturb young plants and can work against your landscaping efforts, so think chickens when designing gardens and yards that will have chickens roaming through.
The first thing my chickens do when I let them out in the morning is gobble up tender blades of grass, grass seeds right from their stalks, and their favorite seems to be the little white clover blooms scattered across the lawn. In exchange for access to these fresh organic and healthy foods we gain bright orange egg yolks, due to the beta carotene available in fresh greens. I watched one of my chickens steadily pecking at the ground under a big apple tree for something too small for me to see. She spent about a half hour gobbling up something, maybe grass seeds left over from a recent mowing.
This is also a great time of year to save on feed costs. Putting out less feed for chickens, even layers, will encourage them to forage. The hungrier they are, especially in the cool morning, the harder they will work to find bugs, worms, seeds and a host of vegetation. They know and will eat what is good for them. In the fall and winter when fresh foods are less plentiful it’s vital that chickens be offered the best quality feeds. I recommend that feed be always available this part of the year, and of course always plenty of clean water.
If you’re raising chicks and don’t have a safe way to let the little ones free range, offering fresh greens from your garden, including grass clippings (chemical and fertilizer free), dark and colorful lettuces and some fruits, too, will help them grow strong and healthy. They will also benefit from exposure to direct sunlight during cooler parts of the day. Sunshine and fresh natural foods will help your chickens develop healthy immune systems that can fight against illness and disease.
Chickens large and small that are caged in dark areas may become sick and fall victim to disease much more easily than chickens out in the sunshine and fresh air. Always make sure that chickens can cool off in some shade during the hottest weather. Shade and sunshine are so important for chickens, but not too much of either. Chickens, from the smallest chick in a brooder to the biggest, will regulate their own body temperature if they are able to move freely from warmer to cooler areas. If indoors, fans may be needed to cool pens and cages. Offering water with electrolytes and vitamins regularly during heat waves will help prevent heat stress and stroke and should be offered to chicks and chickens that have been shipped.
When selecting a new breed of chicken for your coop and chicken yard make sure to pick one that will do well in your climate. Chickens developed for extremely cold climates, like Hedemora, won’t be able to take the heat, and chickens developed in warm areas, like Seramas, can’t handle the cold. Selecting a local breed, either developed for your state, or that has been successfully bred and free ranged in your area for generations, will help ensure chickens that will be hardy.
Got Chicken: New Auction Site catering to backyard chicken enthusiest. Raising-chickens.org has launched an auction site for the buying and selling of poultry and other domesticated birds.
If you are interested in or already have backyard chickens, our web site offers much needed information that may help you avoid or solve problems. We have a library of over 1000 questions and answers from people all over the world, plus articles, that can help you get started learning what you need to know.
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Your Guide to Everything Chicken Mel www.raising-chickens.org, 101 Preston Court, Macon, GA. 31210
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