Design Your Garden

Rake out the yard area to remove droppings, and top up the litter Add the collected droppings and soiled litter to the compost heap, or pile them up somewhere in the garden and allow to age before using the material as mulch on the garden beds.

These are the tasks that keep chooks comfortable and healthy throughout the seasons, although you may need to adjust them to suit your climatic conditions.

• There is maximum egg production in spring, and hens may become broody, sitting on their own and others’ eggs. Remove the clutch of eggs, as without a rooster the eggs are not fertile. Check broody hens daily and keep removing eggs. Broodiness lasts about 21 days.

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Broody hens can get heat-stressed on hot days. If necessary, take the bird away from her nest to encourage her to drink water.

• Sow grains and leafy greens, including chia, sunflower and grain amaranth for grain, and silverbeet, lettuce and chicory for leaf. (See page 46(or more greens to grow. )

• Treat birds for parasites, including intestinal worms, lice and scaly leg mite with medication from a vet or produce store. Clean the coop and refresh perches. Renew litter.

• Increase shade cover with extra shadecloth, branches, fern fronds or other roofing to keep hens cool over the hot months ahead. If green, leafy material is added, renew it regularly. Consider training a vine such as passionfruit over the area for added shade.

• Add extra water containers to the yard and coop.

• On hot days, keep the drinking water cool and ensure it is easily accessible in a shaded spot. Adding a frozen PET bottle to the drinking trough chills drinking water.

• On very hot days, hose the area to keep it cool.

• Hang up a flytrap if flies are a nuisance around the coop.

• Take heat-stressed birds indoors to cool them down, and ensure they are drinking water.

• Introduce new layers (select pullets at ‘point of lay’).

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