Australian winters are very different to the northern hemisphere, so our preparations and activities can be a little different due to the lack of snow in most parts of the country. There is always buying, selling and ordering to do, but here are a list to help get you on track for the rest of the year!
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Here are my TOP 5 winter chores
Straw - bales and chopped
Straw Bales: $7-9 each approx.
Chopped straw or Sugar Cane Mulch: $9 approx.
Give them a full bale of straw to jump up onto. Place in a semi-sheltered area, such as under a covered run, shed easement, inside a large walk-in coop, tree or trampoline.
A bale of straw provides:
- relief from the muddy wet conditions
- somewhere to dry out
- height interest
- wind break
- something to peck at, especially when the bugs move into the bale
Chopped straw or sugar can mulch is great for reducing the muddy conditions, especially in high traffic areas into the coop. This may need topping up throughout the winter, but will be worthwhile.
Do you need to add extra straw to the roosting area in a small coop?
No, in most circumstances it can be a waste of money and increase the risk of lice and mites. However, these pests are less active during the cold months. So it’s really up to you, but it’s not necessary. Save yourself a few dollars.
Some chickens loves to perch outside rather than in a cozy coop – they are so resilient.
Clean out the nesting boxes
Sweep out the spiders.
Put down Pestene or Diatomaceous Earth on the bottom of each box BEFORE adding fresh nesting box materials on top (wood shavings, hemp, chopped straw, etc.). These powders will help to keep lice and mites at bay.
The availability of hens is much lower during this period due to last year’s breeding season now coming into maturity.
Not all roosters are ideal for breeding with, so know your breed standards well before buying/selling to avoid disappointment. Breed standards are available through Poultry Breed Clubs. (Check out the directories in Australasian Poultry Magazine)
Please consult your local council for restrictions on roosters in your area before buying.
Many councils in Australia do not permit roosters due to the noise.
Pre-Order Fertilised Eggs
July is usually the month breeders ask for pre-orders on their fertilised poultry eggs as it comes into the hatching season.
After the winter solstice hens begin to lay again if they stopped over autumn/winter. Egg laying tends to resume by mid-July, even though this is the very middle of winter.
Fertile eggs are posted out anywhere from August to December, on average.
This will also prompt you to do a few more things such as ordering heat tables/lamps and brooders, chick starter feed and vaccinations from your vet. (www.brookfieldpoultryequipment.com)
Set up a location for the broody mother to hatch or find a location for incubator hatching and brooding until 8 weeks of age.
Where do you find fertile eggs?
Maintenance may include:
- digging diversionary trenches away from the sheds for heavy rain fall
- close all vents and putting up wind breaks on the coop (e.g. tarps)
- cleaning out manures from fully enclosed sheds to minimise ammonia build up
- put out wood chips or straw in the run in minimise slippery conditions
- install logs for the birds to hop up onto throughout their yard
- check the main coop structure for leaks or signs of rot (especially the roof)
- repair leaks