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Raising Chickens in the Spring


March 22, 2021

Springtime brings blooming flowers, warm weather, and a happy backyard flock. As the cold winter is behind us and the hot summer looms near, chickens get to bask in the mild weather as they frolic and forage for bugs, plants, and other treats.

For most homesteaders, raising chickens in the spring is a walk in the park, as long as you take certain precautions and consider the changes in climate. If you’re ready to care for a flock through spring, check out our tricks of the trade to keep your flock clucking all season long.

What Is the Best Time of Year to Get Chickens?

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Chickens can be raised year-round, but there are many reasons why most backyard chicken keepers start to raise chicks in the spring. During this temperate climate, enjoy the many benefits of spring rearing including the following:

  • More chicken choices:  Who doesn’t love variety? During the springtime, you’ll find the most selection of chicken breeds at hatcheries. Spring’s warm climate makes it easier to hatch and keep chicks compared to other seasons, especially during the fall and winter when the days are darker and chickens lay fewer eggs.
  • Incubating and hatching paradise: Come springtime, temperatures are pleasant enough to provide the warmth needed to grow healthy chicks. While they will still need a heat source in the brooder, they’ll be ready sooner to enjoy the fresh air compared to fall or winter chicks.
  • Egg-laying season:  During winter, egg production drastically slows down due to the harsh weather and shorter days. When the daylight gets longer and the temperatures begin to rise, that’ll be a signal for your hens to start laying eggs again. If you’re planning on raising chicks or simply want a delicious breakfast, spring-hatched chicks are for you.

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Caring For Chickens in the Springtime: Health Check

Right after the winter chill has gone, it’s important to give your flock a beak-to-feet health check-up. Mites and parasites can withstand the cold winter and cause chaos come spring. For the best spring health, check for parasites at the base of your flocks’ feathers, especially near the vent.

Don’t miss the feet when checking for mites. Check their poop for signs of parasite infestation, too. Above all, give your flock an area to dust bathe, which helps keep them parasite-free.

In order to keep your chickens disease- and parasite-free, follow these tips:

  • Keep your chicken coop clean to reduce the risk of growing bacteria or protozoa, which can bring in flies.
  • Regularly perform a health check on your flock.
  • Set up a limited time for your chickens to free-range. This reduces the time they have to eat parasite hosts.
  • Practice proper biosecurity measures to ward off wild animal and birdlife, which can carry parasites.

Spring Cleaning the Chicken Coop

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Spring cleaning is an annual ritual. Go beyond getting a spotless home by giving your chickens’ coop and run a deep clean. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and start scrubbing and spraying your flock’s home to remove any and all debris. While you’re at it, give your flock’s feeders and waterers a good wash and rinse, too.

In certain parts of the world, spring brings rain and wet spots in the enclosure. Try to keep your chickens’ home mud-free. Bird droppings, wet bedding, and messy feeders can create a mud-filled coop. Standing water can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

Mud corners and standing water spots are more than just eyesores, they are harmful to your flock. Chickens can take sips from the contaminated water over their waterers. In your run, muddy spots can bring bugs to the ground, many of which can carry diseases and parasites.

It’s fair to say, spring cleaning is a must for your flock’s health.

Prevention is the best defense against a muddy run and coop. When setting up your chickens’ home, choose a location that’s on higher ground. Steer clear of areas that can easily flood. If possible, set up shop on slightly sloping ground to drain the water from the enclosure.

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Predator Protection

Spring is a time for renewal including for predators that have started raising their kin. Everything from raccoons to bobcats to foxes to possums become more daring as they look for food to feed their young. From above, predators are migrating and spotting easy meals.

Foxes, in particular, are known for their bold hunting tactics during spring, in rural and urban environments. When food becomes scarce in the wild, they may turn to your peaceful suburban chicken home.

In some cases, certain animals such as pine martens, mink, weasels, and stoats just want the eggs. However, they are known to cause even more havoc by killing chickens just for kicks. Keep your chicken coop clean and protected to avoid attracting small rodents like mice and rats. These mini predators can also attract larger and more dangerous ones.

As a cast of predators lie in wait, it’s up to you to predator-proof your coop and run. Consider your local predators and how to best deter them. Are they coming from the sky? Do they burrow underground?

Consider the size and entry points where they can literally weasel their way in. Some can squeeze in through cracks, holes, and other tiny openings. Other predators such as raccoons can use their nimble paws to easily unlatch simple locks.

No Mite In Sight

Spring’s warm days and mild nights have a hidden underbelly full of small blood-sucking parasites known as red mites. A red mite infestation can literally drain your chickens of blood and spread viruses and bacteria across your flock. That’s no way to spend a spring.

Mites can come from many sources including the straw you bring on site, pets, and wild birds and animals, the most common way. Easily accessible grain and layer feed is sure to attract wild birds and animals. For the ultimate red mite protection, keep your feed contained or inside your home in a secured container.

Red mites are hardy little parasites that can withstand the bitter frost of winter. Once spring hits and the weather gets warmer, they are known to ramp up their breeding.

Watch out for red mite signs to prevent a full-on infestation. These nearly microscopic creatures are masters at hiding. Watch out for these signs of a red mite infestation:

  • Scratching hens
  • Loss of feathers
  • Rashes and scabs
  • Pale comb and wattles
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decreased production of eggs
  • Not wanting to enter the coop
  • Blood spots on eggs

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Spring Garden

Spring plants and blooms offer a pop of color to your backyard garden. If you have free-range chickens, plan ahead to prevent them from curiously pecking at your seeds and seedlings. Installing a temporary fence to protect your garden can go a long way.

Planting a garden in the spring can give you and your flock beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables packed with nutrients. If you have enough space, create a separate chicken foraging patch full of herbs and vegetables just for them, just make sure to protect it while it matures.

Herbs:

  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Lavender

Flowers:

  • Nasturtium
  • Sunflower
  • Marigold

Leafy greens:

  • Kale
  • Silverbeet
  • Rocket

Fruits:

  • Watermelon
  • Rockmelon
  • Strawberries

Brood ‘Tude

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Springtime means your hens will be ready to brood chicks. Your broody hens will hide out in the nest and sit upon their eggs to hatch their chicks. If you’re thinking of adding chicks to your flock, spring is an excellent time of year to bring new life to the coop.

However, if you’re still in egg collecting mode, it’ll be hard to remove eggs from a tenacious broody hen. Good luck trying to wrestle away your breakfast from a determined broody hen.

Broody hens can go to great lengths to remain in their nest and hatch their chicks, besides the occasional bathroom break. Everything from hissing to pecking to growling are fair game for them in an attempt to protect their chicks.

When handling a broody hen, approach with caution. Most homesteaders find success by taking a gentle approach. Simply remove the eggs regularly to prevent your hen from hoarding the bunch. Generally, this works like a charm, but sometimes the hen puts up a fight.

For the broodiest of hens, certain isolation techniques can break the broody spell and get your chickens out of the nest. It may take some trial and error to isolate your chickens without stressing them out too much.

Egg Laying Season

Springtime breakfasts are the best due to the increased egg production. Gather all your egg collecting supplies such as cartons to store your eggs. As the egg count rises, the higher chance there will be for egg irregularities, which can be a sign of nutrient deficiency or disease.

Some owners increase the protein sources in the flock’s diet to support the energy spent on laying eggs, hatching chicks, and having fun in the sun. Free-range flocks can find tons of bugs and worms full of protein to munch on and supplement their regular complete feed.

For some springtime treats, give your chickens mealworms, leftover veggies and fruits, and other table scraps.

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Cold Snaps

During the first lighter days of early spring, everything seems serene and promising. Suddenly, a cold snap rolls through destroying your vegetable garden and wreaking havoc on your flock. In order to stay ahead of those gusty winds, hailing snowstorms, and torrential downpours, it’s best to keep a close eye on your flock and water supply multiple times a day.

Winter techniques can be applied to keep your flock’s fresh water supply from freezing during those sudden cold snaps.

Give your chicken coop a close inspection to check for cracks, openings, and other places where water can leak through and cause wet spots, a breeding ground for bacteria. In addition, check your coop for drafts, which can roll through and create temperature fluctuations for your flock.

Generally, chickens have an innate ability to regulate their temperature through extreme cold and hot climates. Even in the midst of a cold snap, a well-protected and sealed coop can keep chickens cozy without the need for supplemental heating inside.

Not keeping heat lamps inside the coop reduces your risk of a fire. If you find that you absolutely need extra warmth for your flock or your brooder, go with a radiant heat source over traditional heat lamps. Radiant heat sources warm on contact without the risk of sparking a fire or getting too hot for baby chicks. It’s completely safe for brooding.

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Incubating and Hatching: Raising Chicks in the Spring

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If you’re looking to add chicks to your chicken family, get ready for hatching season. Pretty soon, you’ll be graced with adorable and fluffy baby chicks. As your flock’s fertility soars to new heights due to the mild weather, it’ll be that time of year to start thinking about incubating and hatching your chicks.

If you want to raise chicks, stock up on supplies for chicks such as a brooder, heat lamp, bedding, feed, waterer, and other essentials. During the first few months of life, your spring chicks need to live in a warm environment. Buy a pre-made brooder or make your own with a large plastic container and a heat lamp to keep them warm enough. Just appreciate them while you can cuz they grow up so fast!

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Spring Into Action

Springtime fun shouldn’t be complicated. Our spring care chicken tips can help you maintain healthy chickens for the entire year. With careful planning and regular care, you can enjoy hanging out in the mild weather with your birds.

It’s truly one of the best times of the year.

Let Wilco farm stores help you bring in the bloom. Shop our wide selection of spring tools and supplies online or in-store.

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