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Preparing for Storm Ciaran: Safeguarding Our Chickens

Preparing for Storm Ciaran: Safeguarding Our Chickens

It's the 1st November and for us here on the South Coast, it's the first big storm for the winter of 2024, and as Storm Ciaran looms over the UK, the focus naturally turns to the safety of our homes and loved ones. However, here on the smallholding, we're equally concerned about our feathered residents, we've got a lot of birds, and they all need protecting. Chickens, like all animals, are vulnerable to extreme weather conditions, and it's our responsibility to ensure they are well-protected. This guide is intended for anyone who keeps chickens, whether on a smallholding like ours or in a back garden. We'll delve into the various preventive measures we've taken and offer some additional tips that could benefit other chicken keepers.

One of the first things we've done is to fill all the feeders and drinkers to their maximum capacity. We've even added a few extra ones. This serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it minimises the need for us to venture out into the storm, allowing us to stay dry. Secondly, it ensures that our chickens, who are confined to their coops for the time being, have sufficient food and water. Chickens tend to eat more when they're not free-ranging, so it's crucial to account for this increased consumption.

Security is another major concern. The last thing anyone wants is for a gust of wind to unlatch a coop door, providing an open invitation to predators like foxes. To counter this, we've gone around and tightened all the catches on the coop doors. It's a simple step, but one that can make all the difference.

We've also taken the time to remove any items that could potentially catch the wind, such as tarpaulins. These items can turn into dangerous projectiles in strong winds, posing a risk to both animals and property.

In terms of housing, we've moved several flocks of chickens into a large indoor shed. While it's not ideal for different flocks to mix, the alternative—leaving them in pens covered only with a tarpaulin—would expose them to the elements. Today, we've decided not to let the chickens out of the coop at all. We've often observed that they tend to return to the coop when they sense inclement weather, so this decision was reinforced by their own instincts.

If you're looking to go the extra mile in your preparations, whether you have 3 birds or 300, consider putting together an emergency kit. This could include a basic first-aid kit tailored for poultry, extra feed, and a portable water container. Battery-powered lights can be a useful addition to your coop, allowing you to check on your chickens without having to open the door and expose them to the cold and wind. Weatherproofing your coop with a sealant can provide an additional layer of protection against moisture, and ensuring good ventilation can help prevent respiratory issues that can arise from a buildup of moisture.

Here on the farm, we're leaving no stone unturned to mitigate the impact of the storm on our chickens. From food and water provisions to coop security and emergency preparations, we're doing everything we can to ensure the safety and well-being of our flocks. As the storm rages on, we can take some comfort in knowing that we've done our best to protect those in our care. Now we just need to sit and wait it out…. 

Stay safe, and keep clucking on!

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