See Your Chickens for a new monthly guide to hen keeping tasks
Advice for SEPTEMBER
With Grant Brereton
What to expect: Depending on the exact month hatched, your early stock can be approaching 5 months old at this point and it is time (if you haven’t already) to separate the cockerels from the pullets. Left together, the males will often fight and pester the life out of the females. This is no good for either sex when trying to develop successfully to fully grown adults. Young males will probably be crowing by now, as many of them attempt to do so at quite a young age – with Leghorns it can be as early as a few weeks old.
For your older laying flock, this is the month they can slow down on egg production and begin to head into the annual moult. Don’t be surprised if eggs become fewer as one or two old girls begin to drop a few feathers. The moult takes at least 12 weeks to go full cycle, by which point the necessary protein levels and nutrients will have been restored (along with a beautiful new plumage).
Jobs to do: With the help of a friend (it’s always good to have a helper) sort through your adolescent birds and split them into sex-specific pens, where the males are as far away as possible from the females. Of course, there will still be a hierarchy in each pen but this way there is less chance of real damage being caused by any fights. If you are worried, however, an old trick is to place a mature cock bird in with the males and he will swiftly sort out any fights, quickly establishing himself as the boss; a ‘policeman’, as they are know in the hobby.
Other jobs include some maintenance of coops/pens/houses as you head into the winter months. Some harsh weather in the form of strong winds and rain should be anticipated and your houses should be able to stand up to the elements. Check for leaks, rusty hinges/locks, rotten timber panels, and that protective coating is adequate.
Seasonal: Handling is still important and you will begin to see your efforts paying off. The birds will be calm and placid and will let you check them for signs of health and/or parasites.
If you fancy showing, now is the time to start thinking about obtaining schedules for the winter classics such as the National or Federation shows.
What to buy: Replacement fixtures and fittings for older sheds (if appropriate), wood preserve, replacement onduline or felt.
Where to go: Shows this month include: Glossop, Northumberland & Durham and Reading & District. It may be the time to visit a rare breed sale with your stock, or just for pleasure. But try to choose a reputable sale that is graded or ‘specialist’ as this will give the best chances of the highest prices.
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