|Sunflowers in November|
|"Someone PLEASE stop the wind!"|
The addition of organic materials when needed, and a weekly light turning of the existing bedding material with a garden fork turns the run into a new playground for the girls. They love to attack the piles of straw and leaves and fling it everywhere (like a cartoon whirlwind)! In the afternoon, before they go up to roost, we toss in cracked corn or scratch. We read that this helps their digestion in some way that affects their ability to build up body heat. We have no proof that cracked corn actually helps but they love it and it's become a bedtime/roost-time ritual. If they're happy we're happy!
|"Keep looking. I know we dropped it around here!"|
The ladies go out for supervised free-ranging several times a day -except when the weather is bad. And by bad I mean very cold and torrential raining. There is a place for me to sit and supervise them where I can tolerate the cold, but until I get some industrial strength rain gear, they have to stay in the run till the rain turns to a drizzle. They don't understand this run confinement and become grumpy and hold me responsible. If I'm in the kitchen they can see me through the windows. They think the sight of me moving around inside is a cue that I am coming out the back door. They have a lot to say if I don't come right out! I can hear them easily from the kitchen if they get loud enough. They really do have a nice, cozy coop and run. And it's not the weather I worry about so much as it is their being cooped-up, literally, for long periods of time. Boredom among chickens can present safety issues. I've seen mine pick, peck and fight with each other…not causing any wounds so far but that's something that is possible and you need to watch for.
There are a lot of ways to keep chickens entertained - food is the best one. You don't want to give them junk food for any reason! But there are ways to make healthy food entertaining. We use a small wire basket filled with pumpkin or greens and hang it just high enough that they have to jump and peck at it to get the goodies, - a Chicken Piñata! There are also gadgets you can use to mount solid food, apples, flock blocks etc., on walls.
I recently tried making my own Flock Block (also very entertaining for them). I combined several recipes I'd seen and tweaked it with what I already had on the shelf.
-Another version of a Flock Block
1/2 to 1 Cup - Water (depending on what type feed you use)
1/2 Cup - Chicken Feed ,either mash or powdery left-over stuff bottom of feed sack
1/2 Cup - Corn Meal Mix
1/4 Cup - Molasses1/2 Cup - Sunflower Seeds and/or Cracked corn
These are optional-
1 tsp - Cinnamon
1/4 Cup - Wheatgerm
When I put it out for our chicks they acted like they were getting more Thanksgiving leftovers!
|(Another version) Home Made Flock Block|