Gardening activities usually slowdown in the summertime as the temperature continues to climb into the 90’s and beyond. July is often a very dry month and can be very hot. New garden projects are not usually started but there are always maintenance chores to do. The best time to do any kind of gardening or maintenance is in the early morning or late in the day after supper.
Proper watering is essential to keep plants healthy in the heat of summer. It is best to water as deeply and infrequently as possible, as opposed to frequent light sprinklings. This will encourage a deeper root system that can take advantage of water stored in the soil.
One of the best strategies for getting shrubs and young trees through summertime dry spells is to apply a thick layer of mulch over the root systems of plants. Mulches break down over time, so if it has been awhile since you’ve mulched, check all the plants in your yard. A three to four-inch layer will prevent most evaporation from the soil and lower the soil temperature in the root zone, reducing stress on the root system.
Drip irrigation combined with mulch is an excellent way to maintain a high quality of plant materials. Drip irrigation, also known as trickle irrigation or micro-irrigation is an irrigation method that saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either onto the soil surface or directly into the root zone, through a network of valves, pipes, tubing and emitters. It is done through narrow tubes that deliver water directly to the base of the plant. This allows for fertilizer and nutrient loss to be minimized due to localized application and reduced leaching. Soil erosion and weed growth is lessened with this type of irrigation along with the foliage remain dry, reducing the risk of disease. If drip irrigation is not an option at this time, consider using soaker hoses to provide a good source of water to your garden or bedding plants.
Water plants in containers and hanging baskets more frequently in the summer to keep them from drying out. This can leach out plant nutrients from the soil, so use a water-soluble fertilizer regularly to keep your plants growing and healthy.
A variety of “old horsemen’s tales” once advised withholding water from horses under particular circumstances. For example, many people still adhere to the notion that offering cold water to a hot, sweating horse will cause colic.
However, researchers now know that offering a cool drink to a hot horse does no harm, and it will help him recover from exertion more quickly. In fact, ensuring that horses have access to a ready supply of fresh, clean water is one of the best ways to reduce the risks of impaction colic, especially in those kept primarily on dried forage.
Make sure that every horse has access to the water you supply. Low-ranking herd members may be bullied away from troughs, and arthritic horses may be unwilling to climb down steep streambeds. Providing more than one source of water can help remedy situations like these.
Feeding is one of the most emotionally gratifying things we do for our horses. Who doesn’t enjoy hearing expectant whinnies give way to the sound of contented munching? And yet our very human need to nurture them sometimes conflicts with their very equine need to simply roam and graze. Finding the balance between the horse’s natural way of eating and the demands of domesticated life will help ensure that he will remain healthy for years to come.
Summer is a time for fun, adventure and excitement – for both flock owners and backyard flocks. As the summer sun hits its peak, flock owners can apply their own summer health practices to better care for their backyard poultry.
The summertime essentials are similar for both humans and backyard flocks: stay hydrated, protect yourself from the heat and maintain a complete and balanced diet.
As humans, our habits change in the summer. We adapt to stay comfortable. By providing our backyard chickens the tools they need, they can also adapt and enjoy the sunshine.
Many people don’t realize that birds are unable to sweat. To cool down, they open their beaks and pant or spread their wings away from their bodies. If these cooling strategies are not enough, birds are more likely to become lethargic and may stop eating feed, which can lead to subsequent health challenges and reduced egg production.
We want to avoid these signs of heat stress by preventing problems before they begin. With the right care, birds will maintain their routines of foraging, pecking and chattering throughout the day.
Remember the H2O
Staying hydrated in the summer is a clear choice for humans. As temperatures rise, a good rule for people to follow is to calculate half your body weight in pounds and drink the equivalent number of ounces of water.
For our backyard chickens, the practice should be similar: Clean, cool water is essential. Follow the general rule of providing 500 milliliters of fresh water per bird per day. This equates to one gallon for every seven adult birds.
Drinking water helps cool birds’ body temperatures. In high temperatures, chickens will drink up to twice as much water as during temperate conditions. If chickens do not have quality water, they are less likely to eat or lay eggs.
To help chickens stay hydrated:
Provide extra waterers so each bird has access at all times.
Place waterers in a shaded area to help keep the water cool and the coop dry.
Offer fresh, cool water in the morning and evening.
Freeze water in a storage container. Place the resulting ice in the waterer in the morning to keep the water cool.
Place marbles in waterers to prevent splashing.
Wash waterers weekly with a mixture of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water. Rinse thoroughly.
Keep body temperature in check
Think of your most recent day in the sun. You likely incorporated a few cooling practices to maintain an adequate body temperature and avoid heat stress.
A consistent body temperature is equally important for backyard flocks.
If a bird’s body temperature climbs, it can cause a lasting strain. Create a cool and comfortable environment for the flock to enjoy.
To keep chickens comfortable:
Provide shade by placing roofs on the run or shade cloths over the door. Add misters outside of the chicken coop that spray onto the roof or shade cover for evaporative cooling.
Create adequate air flow inside the coop. Open all windows and roof vents to allow hot air and ammonia to escape. Add a small fan for air circulation.
Swap solid coop doors with screen doors and keep lights off during the day. Reduce bedding to two inches or less to avoid heat being trapped.
Provide a peat moss dust bath for backyard chickens to play in. If mites are a concern, switch to a mix of 90 percent peat moss, 10 percent diatomaceous earth.
Avoid overcrowding by providing at least 4 square feet of indoor space and 5-10 square feet of outdoor space per bird.
Indulge a bit, but keep a balance
It can be argued that fresh-from-the-garden fruits and vegetables, summertime snacks and potluck picnics are true summer highlights. But, no matter the treat, it’s important to maintain a balance.
A balanced diet is very important for our backyard poultry as well. Summer is the perfect time to spend in the backyard with the flock and give them a few indulgent snacks, but don’t forget the 90/10 rule: 90 percent complete feed and 10 percent treats or snacks.
To help keep the flock’s diet in balance:
Give fresh complete feed in the morning and evening in a shaded area, offering treats only after the flock has finished its complete feed.
Offer cold or frozen fruits and vegetables as a summertime treat.
Provide special treats such as Purina® Flock Block® or Purina® Scratch Grains as a complement to a complete feed. Treats formulated specifically for birds can provide beneficial nutrients while keeping birds active.
Offer free-choice grit if your flock is fed whole grains, seeds or other non-commercial feedstuffs. Purina® Chick or Poultry Gritcan be fed separately or mixed with your flock’s grain diet at a rate of 1 pound of grit per 20 pounds of feed.
Offer oyster shell to help maintain calcium intake and eggshell quality when birds may be eating less due to heat.
Provide at least six inches of feeder space per bird.
Summer heat tends to reduce feed intake, so the complete feed should be the first dietary priority. When birds have a balanced diet, plenty of water and a cool, comfortable environment, they are better able to remain healthy and productive and enjoy a fun and peaceful backyard summer.
By Mikelle Roeder, Ph.D. – Multi-Species Nutritionist – Purina Mills
Posted in Chicks, News & Updates | Comments Off on Keep your Backyard Flock Cool, Calm and Comfortable
One flock owner recently asked me about the diet of his laying hens. He’s feeding his flock a complete feed, and supplementing the complete feed with bread, porridge and meal-worms.
“I want to stop this habit (of feeding so many treats) as it’s expensive, but how?” he asked. My response to him – and to other flock raisers – is to follow a 90/10 rule for laying hens: 90% complete feed and 10% treats. Not only can this cut on costs, it helps us provide a balanced diet to our birds.
We recommend limiting the amount of treats we give our hens to 10 percent of the diet.This allows us to shift our focus to providing nutrients through a complete feed. Though treats are a fun addition to our flock, a complete feed provides the necessary nutrients our hens need to stay healthy and produce high-quality eggs.
I encourage flock owners to think of kitchen scraps and scratch grains as M&M’s for birds; fun to eat and a nice treat, but you wouldn’t want to make a meal of them. Similar to candy for us, kitchen scraps and scratch grains are not fortified with vitamins and minerals – key nutrients that laying hens require.
In fact, every time we provide unfortified feeds, we dilute the complete nutrition of the layer feed and the hens may actually receive less nutrition than they would if they just ate their complete feed. If we feed high levels of treats, the hens will likely eat more of them than their fortified feed, causing them to miss out on the nutrients they need.
Since we all know it is fun to feed treats, feel free to view these items as special goodies that our hens get in small amounts a few times a week – but be cautious to not overfeed.
90% Complete Feed
To help hens receive the nutrients they need, provide at least 90 percent of their diet through a complete feed formulated specifically for laying hens.
Hens require at least 38 different nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids and energy. Many of these nutrient requirements increase as hens continue to lay eggs. Complete feeds are formulated to provide this balanced diet.
Let’s take a look at one of these 38 required nutrients: Calcium. If the hen is eating high levels of scratch grains or kitchen scraps, she won’t consume her daily allotment of complete feed. Without the complete feed levels she needs, she won’t have the calcium she requires to produce strong, high-quality eggshells. Instead, she will pull from her calcium reserves to produce eggs, potentially resulting in a weak skeletal structure.
Similar trends can be seen if the other essential nutrients are not provided in the proper levels. To meet the increased nutrient demands of egg production, choose a high-quality complete layer feed and ensure it is the primary part of the hen’s diet. A complete feed is formulated to provide all of the nutrients your bird requires for long-term health and nutritious eggs.
For hens 18 weeks and older, look for a complete feed that includes:
16% (minimum) protein level
Lysine and methionine, essential amino acids
Calcium, manganese and trace minerals for strong shells
Fortified with vitamins, trace minerals and essential amino acids
Prebiotics and probiotics for hen health
A complete feed, like Purina® Layena® Premium Poultry Feed, can help hens receive the nutrients they require. By choosing a complete layer feed, comprised of high-quality ingredients, and sticking to the 90/10 rule, we can help our hens stay happy, healthy and productive.
There’s a new, Field Tan Yeti Hopper and we’ve got it at J&N Feed and Seed! The YETI Hopper in Field Tan with Blaze Orange liner and zipper, will be available in May. It’s the only soft cooler built for long days in the blind or rough treks off the beaten path.
The award-winning YETI Hopper debuted in 2014 and has quickly become the ultimate portable cooler for hunters, anglers, pitmasters, ranchers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. It boasts the leakproof HydroLok™ zipper, ice-for-days ColdCell™ insulation, puncture-resistant DryHide™ exterior, and tough-as-nails construction.
The HydroLok™ Zipper is the ultimate waterproof, airtight closure, borrowing technology from survival suits and HazMat protective gear. ColdCell™ Insulation provides a deep and lasting chill with 1 inch of insulation on the sides and 1.5 inch throughout the Hopper’s base. The heavy-duty EVA foam bottom and RF-welded seams provide waterproof construction and unmatched durability.
The Hopper 20, Hopper 30, and Hopper 40 are available in both Field Tan and Fog Gray this spring. The SideKick, the water-resistant gear case for safeguarding valuables from Mother Nature, is available in both colorways as well.
Stop by J&N Feed and Seed for Field Tan Yeti Hoppers, Yeti coolers, Yeti Ramblers, Colsters and wearable items.