Friday, February 21, 2014

Why Chickens Hate Mother Nature

We've had a strong wind day.  By strong wind, I mean 30 mph average with 50 mph gusts.  At some point in the last 20 hours, my improvised coverings over the western windows in the chicken coop came loose.  The wide open windows have let snow blow into the majority of the chicken enclosure.  I got out of the car and heard loud quacks from two irritated ducks.  It took me about 20 minutes to refasten the shower curtain/feedbag covers.  Climbing over the large snow piles from the driveway always makes me feel like a mountain goat.

By the end of the external repairs, the poultry had quieted down.  I went back inside and started fluffing the straw like I do most days.   I use a deep litter method during the winter months.  At the beginning of winter, I put about 4 inches of straw down on the floor of the coop.  A couple times a week, I use a manure fork to lift, flip and separate the straw to keep it from getting too compacted.  I find that keeping the straw aerated lets composting happen in the lower layers without getting some of the noxious smells associated with anaerobic decay.  Because this winter has been so cold, I've added more and more straw to the coop so that most areas have between 5-8 inches of straw.  The chickens get especially excited when I start moving the straw around because they can start scratching around to find more loose grains of millet.  I usually throw a few handfuls of mixed wild bird seed into the coop after loosening the straw.  The chickens seem to love millet.  The ducks tend to go for the sunflower seeds and cracked corn.

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