Hello from the pasture.
I am writing this post from my bright blue chair while wearing my chicken boots and watching my chickens who I have let free range today.
My coop is located in a fenced pasture. if you read my review of my Omlet Eglu Cube chicken coop you might remember that I have a three meter run. According to the Omlet website, I have about 50 square feet of run space which is generous for four chickens. However, you might also remember that I have been averaging one egg per day from four chickens.
I’ve been researching why that might be. The most likely cause seems to be heat. The theory is that chickens don’t drink as much water when the water is too warm. Of course here we are in the hottest time of the year. Days are at or near 100 degrees here in North Texas every day. I had originally bought a five gallon waterer so I wouldn’t have to mess with it every day. So, with this new information in mind, I bought two five quart poultry waterers. Now I swap them out every day, and the one I have with me I fill halfway up with water and put it in the freezer over night.
Then, the next morning I top it off with water and bring it to the coop. That way they have a big block of ice in the waterer that should be keeping the waterer at least somewhat cool(er).
Maybe it’s working because today I had two eggs. Or maybe that was a fluke. I guess we’ll see.
But back to my free ranging chickens.
Inadequate nutrition is another thing that keeps chickens from laying. Now, they certainly have all of the feed they can eat and I think I’m pretty careful with the treats. But, I notice that some of my chickens kind of chase others of them away from food. So, I thought that if I let them out of the run all day there would be so much space that everyone could get their fill of grass and bugs.
I haven’t been here all day, but I have been here most of the day. It’s been so interesting watching their behavior. For one thing, I thought they would be ALL OVER the pasture, or at least all over the shaded side. But, no. They are tending to hang pretty close to the coop and run. One fun thing happened. When I first let them out then went to my car to run to the bee store, they followed me out! Like puppies! I got them back in and put a log in front of the opening from which they came.
From watching them all day I am convinced that they are for sure struggling with the heat. At this moment they are all sitting in the run (even though the door is open) panting and trying to stay cool. Other than the ice water I’m not sure what more to do for them. There isn’t electricity out in this pasture, so I can’t run misters. I just don’t know what else to do except pray for an early fall. Do any of you have any suggestions?
Here are some of my photos from sitting out in the pasture with the chickens all day today: