Show your chickens some Summer Lovin’
Whilst the warmer months bring perks to chicken owners with extended daylight hours, better weather conditions and, of course, more eggs, it is important not to forget that summer can be a stressful time for your flock. Chickens can suffer increased stress from situations that arise during the summer months, including parasite infestation, heat stress, increased egg laying and new arrivals to the flock. The trusted “Eggsperts” at Nettex Poultry are here to answer your questions about why and how you should be showing your flock some extra lovin’ this summer.
Immune Support during Pesky Pest Infestation
We all know that with warm weather comes the increased threat of Pesky Pests such as Worms, Lice and Mites but what most owners forget is that it is essential to support your hen’s immune system during this time as well as tackling those Pesky Pests in the housing and on the birds.
What health implications does a Pesky Pest infestation have on my chickens?
Whilst not all Pesky Pests live on, or inside, the birds, they will feed off them at some point in the lifecycle. This can cause severe health issues and stress to their immune system. Your chickens may look anaemic, they may become more irritated resulting in feather pecking and they could even stop laying. If left unsupported nutritionally, your birds could take longer to recover and as a result have poorer welfare.
How do I support my chicken’s health during worming?
Whilst a quarterly worming regime is recommended, it can place stress on the sensitive balance of the gut microbiome. A well balanced and healthy microbiome helps your chickens receive optimum nutritional uptake from food and forage required for health and egg production. Nettex Poultry Egg & Shell Support Powder supports a healthy gut as it contains Prebiotics.
How do I support my chicken’s health during a Pesky Pest infestation?
Once you have tackled the current Lice or Mite problem and have implemented a regular cleaning regime to deter future infestations, it is key to help your chickens regain full health by supplying them with immune supporting vitamins and minerals, such as ones found in Nettex Vit Boost Tonic. Not only will this make them feel good but it will enable them to be on top of their egg laying game!
Nettex Vit Boost Tonic supplies essential vitamins to support health and vitality all year round through the drinking water, this is particularly useful during stressful situations when your chicken’s immune system may have taken a hit. The added Biotin in Nettex Vit Boost Tonic also supports feather regrowth, ideal if your hen may have succumbed to feather pecking as a result of irritation from Lice and Mites. During a pest infestation, your hen may appear to be laying less frequently or the quality of her eggs may reduce. If this is the case, be sure to add Nettex Egg and Shell Support Powder to her feed. This mineral supplement has been specifically formulated to help improve egg quality and shell strength with carefully selected ingredients such as Limestone, Oyster Grit, Seaweed and Calcium offering a powerhouse of goodies for your girls!
Chickens are susceptible to heat stress as their body temperature is much higher than humans and they are unable to sweat to cool down, instead tending to pant, very much like cats or dogs.
What is the normal temperature of a chicken?
A healthy chicken has a body temperature of 40.6-43 degrees Celsius, which is far greater than that of a human at 37 degrees Celsius. So, remember what may feel rather warm to you will be hot to them.
How do I help my chickens avoid heat stress?
In hot weather, ensure your flock has access to shade and provide plenty of fresh, cool water. On particularly hot days you can also pop a frozen bottle of water into their drinker to help keep the water cool. Throughout the summer, it is essential to support your flock with appropriate nutrition and supplementation to maintain optimum health, support the immune system and help prevent stress.
How do I support my chicken’s health during warm weather?
During warm weather give your girls some extra lovin’ and add Nettex Vit Boost Tonic to clean drinking water. This contains essential vitamins and minerals to support optimum health during stressful situations. The heat can reduce your chicken’s appetite and this is crucial as she needs extra nutrients for increased egg laying during this time. If this occurs, simply add some Nettex Egg and Shell Support Powder to her feed, which contains Aniseed to act as an appetite stimulant encouraging your hen to eat more whilst providing essential minerals needed for effective egg laying.
TOP TIP: Avoid using or try to limit use of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) supplements during summer as high temperatures can increase the risk of Acidosis. ACV is best used in cooler months.
New Birds to the Flock
Summer tends to be the time of year when poultry keepers consider introducing new birds to their existing flock as the extended daylight hours makes it easier to monitor how they settle in.
How should I introduce new birds to the flock?
Introducing new chickens to the flock has the potential to be a major cause of stress and upheaval, so it needs to be planned with consideration for both your new and existing chicken’s welfare, and then undertaken slowly. Ensure that you check any new chickens to ensure they are free from Worms, Lice and Mites – it is advised to tackle any hitchhikers on new arrivals before they are introduced to the rest of the flock.
New chickens should be quarantined initially near to your original flock (to build up their homing instinct) and then introduced gradually, with the existing flock free ranging around them to begin with. Monitor the flock when they are together and take action quickly to separate any chickens being bullied. Use toys and environmental stimulation to keep chickens entertained and ensure you have lots of food and water stations. Put the new chickens into the coop after the existing ones have gone to sleep.
How do I support both the new and existing chicken’s health during these changes?
New and existing birds may be nervous and unsettled with re-homing and the added stress can cause a number of health concerns from egg laying, feather pecking, bullying and in extreme cases even cannibalism. By adding a supplement such as Nettex Vit Boost Tonic to their water during this time you can support their immune systems, whilst they figure out their new pecking order.
Egg Laying and Quality
All of the above scenarios can have a detrimental impact on the productivity of your hen and how often she lays good quality, yummy eggs. So, if you want to ensure you are not left short of delicious, rich and golden treats for breakfast al fresco then read on.
Why do chickens lay more eggs in the summer?
First it is important to understand why a chicken lays more in the summer months to best understand her nutritional needs. Chickens are seasonal breeders, so most hens will slow down, and may eventually stop laying eggs as we move towards the winter months. This is mainly due to the reduction in daylight hours as the reducing level of light in the winter months will affect both the nutritional intake of the hens and the production of hormones responsible for reproduction in the chicken, meaning less eggs are produced. Pure breed hens may stop laying completely from October to January. Hens will also not lay if they are moulting as they divert their resources to grow feathers.
My chickens are laying poor quality eggs, what should I do?
Sometimes hens may lay eggs that have thin, soft or no shells, or may stop laying all together. There may be a number of reasons for this but there are a number of steps that you can take yourself to investigate the causes of poor-quality eggs. First ensure your hens are generally healthy by conducting a health check (visit www.nettexpoultry.com/videos) to identify any issues, check they are not infected with either internal or external parasites, being pecked by other birds or overheating. You should feed your hens high-quality layers feed, making sure that this is a significant proportion of their diet, keeping treats to a minimum and only offered after they have eaten all of the main feed. Soft shelled eggs might be more common at the start or end of the laying period, or when the hens are older.
How can I support egg quality and shell strength?
If you want eggcellent eggs it’s simple, just add the following Nettex products to your hens’ feed.
- Nettex Poultry Egg and Shell Support Powder is specially formulated to improve egg quality, assist digestion and provide nutritional support for laying hens. Containing limestone, oyster grit and calcium this product will help strengthen and improve egg shell quality.
- Nettex Poultry Seaweed is rich in essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids to support bright, golden yolks, help improve shell quality and support feather growth.
If you have more burning questions then visit www.nettexpoultry.com/advice-centre/your-questions-answered/ or follow @NettexPoultry on Facebook or Instagram.