Get Your Coop Ready for Summer
Chickens are increasingly popular in southern Arizona. They are relatively easy to raise, and produce eggs, meat and manure for the garden. Here are some tips on keeping them happy.
· Grow a fast, full sun loving vine over the coop for more shade: queen’s wreath (Antigonon leptopus), cat claw (Madfadyena unguis-cati) or Arizona grape ivy (Cissus trifoliata). Cut back in winter to allow appreciated winter sun.
· Create a natural cross breeze by replacing solid walls and roof with mesh screens and fencing.
· Mist adult birds with water for a refreshing afternoon shower and hose down the roof and coop to lower temperatures.
· Avoid handling your hens or stressing them out during the heat of the day.
· Share the bounty of summer with your flock, such as refreshing watermelon wedges.
· Use food grade all-natural Diatomaceous Earth to minimize summer pests, lightly sprinkle in and around your coop.
· Keep cool water available at all times; try several watering stations in shady spots.
· Minimize disease-causing organisms that flourish in summer by mixing one tablespoon of chlorine bleach with one gallon of boiling water to disinfect their water station. Let air dry before refilling.
· Keep a poultry electrolyte on hand for emergencies like heat stress or to add to their water during really hot days; if they don’t like the taste, they won’t drink it, so always provide untreated water as well. ✜
Renee Bidegain is an urban livestock enthusiast and manages Arizona Feeds Country Store in South Tucson.