Before the hens arrived, I always assumed they would be hard work. Touch wood, so far they haven’t been.
But they are a responsibility and a regular routine is needed. I need to see them every day – and if away, someone else needs to pop in to check on them, their feed and water. But this is the case for all animals, including my guinea pigs.
But hard work? No. Not really.
My daily routine goes like this – get up about 7am (my alarm call will get earlier and earlier in the summer and vice versa in the winter. There is also the option of keeping the pophole door open). I’ve not had a summer with the girls yet so have had a reasonable wake up time. So far anyway!
Open the pophole/open the coop door to let them out into their outside run. Check they have enough grain in their feeder, clean water in their drinker and grit in their grit tray (to help them digest food).
When they first arrived they seemed to kick a lot of debris and muck into these containers but for whatever reason, this appears to have stopped.
Replenish if needed.
Take out the cleaning bucket and, using a brush and shovel, take out any poo/dirt/uneaten food lying around in the roosting area, coop and run. This means the coop is always relatively clean and there is no build-up of smell or dirt. It take 5 or 10 minutes and easy enough to fit in before work. A proper clean can take place less frequently.
The hens enjoy scratching the ground for grubs and hopping onto my herb pots where they nibble the parsley or mint. All the while keeping an eye out for extra treats.
Treat time! They love corn but corn is something I try to give them as late as I can as it reportedly keeps them warm at night. Lettuce and cabbage they enjoy, preferring me to hand feed them as it’s easier for them to grab (and they do grab, no pleasantries here!). I intend to get something to hang up the greenery. Porridge is another nutritional titbit.
What’s their favourite? Mealworms! I used to walk past packets and buckets of these in the wild bird food sections of shops, thinking my wild birds will have to put up with fat balls and coconut feeders. I didn’t like the look of them at all.
But now I know it’s the girl’s top treat I give some every two days or so. Especially as they demand it, keeping an eye on me when I open the shed door and squawk to me, ‘we want our worms’. When they hear them rattling in my scoop and see them falling onto the ground, they come running and squawking excitedly amongst themselves. Florence even pokes her head through the netting in eagerness for the tasties.
‘Worms, glorious worms…’ They sing.
Before I go to work, they go back into their coop where they can scratch the ground (they get excited about clean wood chip on the floor), eat grain, drink water, look for grubs, and eat any treats – corn, mealworms or greenery – I have scattered. My parents sometimes kindly come to see them and let them out in the afternoon, giving them corn. But during winter time, they will head for bed earlier and earlier. In December it will be about 4pm, maybe 3.30pm. When I get home from work, they are already tucked up in bed.
Time to close the pophole and let the girls sleep.
And then the day begins again tomorrow. 🐔🐔🐔