For me, when I know there is rain in the forecast, I love to keep a fresh bouquet of flowers sitting on the kitchen island. When the gardens are in Summer bloom, I love snipping dahlias, spider flowers, liatris, hydrangeas, poppies, cone flowers and sedum to create lovely focal points. Yesterday, I did the next best thing. On my weekly food shopping at Trader Joe's, I spied one of my favorite flowers, ranunculus, in bouquets. It was meant to be. I brought them home and arranged them in a vase. This would be my cure for the next few days. Something to glance upon. Something that makes me smile. Then I began to focus on the chickens. I like to make them happy in rainy weather too.
Rainy weather for chickens can equal boredom. They spend most of the day in the coop and miss the outdoors. With a few easy measures, I have been able to make these sorts of days more tolerable for the girls. To the point, where I believe that they do not mind the rain as much. Don't get me wrong, the chickens don't mind a bit of rain, but in my experiences they do not like to be drenched to the bone.
Recipe for Happy Rainy Day Chickens
Cover the run. On days, when you know rain is ahead, think about covering the run, or a portion of it, with thick plastic. I pick up a roll of 6mm plastic that comes in a 25 foot long roll in Home Depot's painting section. The plastic is pretty durable and when covering the run, still allows sunlight to penetrate through to the chickens. It keeps them nice and dry too. To cover my A-frame run, I cut the plastic to length. On both sides of the plastic that runs parallel to the run touching the ground, I staple a 2"x4" board sized the length of the coop. These boards act as a counter weights and helps to keep this simple tarp from blowing away in the wind.
Promote Dust bathing. By keeping an area dry in the run or even adding a small tub filled with soil from the run inside the coop, your girls will spend time dust bathing. It is entertaining for them. It also helps to keep them clean and parasite free. I promise you, there might even be a line waiting to use your portable dust bathing bin.
Keep food and water available. It is a great idea on rainy days, to move the food inside the coop and have a water source too. Wet food can harbor mold and bacteria. Why make your flock go outside when they are hungry or thirsty?
Keep them entertained. Hang a treat ball. Make a pinata with a head of cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower. Toss in some weeds roots and all from your garden. They love dandelions! Have the girls go on a scavenger hunt. Try tossing tiny little seeds like sesame and poppy into the dry section of the run or coop. The smaller seeds are more difficult to find adding a bit more time to the scavenging.
Keep puddles from forming in the run. Stagnant water is tempting for chickens to drink from. It harbors harmful bacteria and coccidiosis that can make your chickens sick. Fill any puddles with straw or pine shavings to soak up the water.
Add a mirror. A shatterproof mirror will keep the chickens wondering just who that beautiful bird is in the mirror. Chickens recognize each other by the shape of their combs. Interestingly, they have never seen their own combs even though their flock members recognize it by heart. Sometimes, they think they are meeting a new chicken when indeed it is their own reflection.
Keep them dry. If your chickens do becomes soaked. Dry them with a towel, especially the Silkie Bantams. Their feathers are different than those of your traditional chickens. They tend to "absorb" water. It is true. Wet chickens can catch colds.
Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest