Hen Hints

I’m dumping my accumulated store of wood ashes onto the dust-bathing sites preferred by the hens. This is supposed to be helpful in controlling mites, which always give me trouble in the warm parts of the year.

One of the problems I have with the pan-style waterers I use with the hens (Little Giant Pet Waterers)is that the hens don’t hesitate to poop in the waterer. I’m trying those conical wire tomato-cage thingies as a guard. We’ll see what happens.

The earlier and oftener you collect the eggs, the cleaner they’ll be. There will be more of them, too. The hens can’t break an egg or smear dirt on it if you’ve already collected it.

I’ve been having trouble with aerial predators picking off hens that insist on roosting on the roofs of the hen houses. I’m thinking about putting barrier wires around the roof, sticking up a foot or two above the roof line, and at a slant to keep the hens from roosting on them. Sorta like Rommel’s “asparagus” in Normandy. If anyone tries this before I get around to it, let me know.

If you use electric fence to protect your chickens, keep mowing the grass! Lush spring grass shorts out electric fences, no matter how powerful your fence charger. It’s hard to keep the voltage up to standard this time of year.

And in spite of high feed prices, don’t let your birds run out of feed. This is especially true of baby chicks. Never let them run out of feed, never let them run out of water, and (for chicks) never let them get cold. I like automatic waterers and large-capacity feeders. But you have to check both all the time, or you won’t notice when things go wrong. I find that I have to do a chore every day or I stop doing it entirely.