That was Friday at Hensington Palace! We've been having some quite warm weather here the past couple of days and this has meant that the chickens were all becoming a little bit heat stressed. Thursday, the mercury climbed to 32c and today, it was about 31c I think. We were caught very much unprepared as the average mean temperature in our area, even in the hight of Summer is around 30c which is still warm, but not the kind of baking heat we had the last two days! The chickens were quite stressed on Thursday and there was not much that I was able to do for them as I was at home alone, and I have disabilities which make it difficult for me to climb or lift things. All I could do was let the chickens out on free range and make sure they found some shade.
For the chicks, I had to make sure they had plenty of water and that they didn't get frightened or upset during the hottest part of the day. Thankfully, they all survived, but I knew that something would need to be done on Friday to keep them a bit cooler.
Enter my friends on Poultry Matters!
I posted in the forum asking for some advice on what to do to avoid heat stress and got some wonderful suggestions. Some, I couldn't implement, but others, such as providing the chickens with ice so they would have cool water, I could do, as well as placing shade cloth over their coops to keep the sun off the metal roofing.
Sandra and I got some lengths of shadecloth out of the storage sheds and draped these over the coops and the chick's growing pen. We weighted them with bricks for now, but will need to find a more permanent way to affix them before we get any major summer storms.
I had frozen some water in plastic tubs over night, and we also filled a couple of buckets with water and placed them around near the chooks' favourite shady spots in the yard. The chooks liked the idea of the water buckets, but having never seen ice before, were a little nonplussed about what to do with it! That problem was quickly solved though, when Sandra sprinkled a handful of their feed into the container with the ice. They soon got the idea that pecking the ice would either reward them with food, or with something cold and refreshing and they decided to camp next to the ice bucket for the afternoon!
Chooks introduced to ice for the first time
The next order of business was to deal with the chicks who were feeling the heat again in their aviary. We dug around in the handy dandy storage shed and came up with an old cage that used to house my pet fancy rats in the yea long ago! I had been intending to toss it out when the council had a hard rubbish collection a while back, but fortunately, there it was in the dim, dark recesses of the shed, cobwebbed and forgotten, awaiting just such an emergency as this!
The cage was promptly hauled out into the light of day, dusted off and recieved a couple of small modifications in order to become a shady, if somewhat small enclosure for the chicks who decided that cramped or not, it was wonderfully cool and being on bare ground, was the perfect place to settle in for a luxurious dust bath in the cool, damp earth under the tree!
(I needed to refresh their water bowl four times that day due to them kicking dirt into it!)
Well, by this time, with all the mad activity to try and prevent our chooks from getting heat stroke, Sandra and I almost had heat stroke ourselves! It was time to retire indoors for a cool drink, and some study before having our lunch.
The big chooks hung out most of the afternoon under a shady tree, camped next to their ice block and bucket of water, whilst the chicks dust bathed, scratched in the grass and squabbled over bugs in their makeshift enclosure.
While the chooks were all kept busy with their outdoor pursuits, I decided it was time to tackle the tomatoes I had picked on Thursday.
I got to work and transformed this...
It was a long, and busy day, and I am exhausted and having seen it all written out, I can see that we did actually accomplish quite a bit, since laundry got done and I also completed a quiz for Uni and scored 90% on it somewhere in amongst all that!
If you managed to read this far, you deserve a reward, so here is some chickie cuteness to send you on your way!
Maggie and the Hensington Palace Hens!