COOL FEED STORAGE IS ESSENTIAL IN A HEATWAVE
QMy very noisy Black Rock is now very quiet, not eating, lying with wings spread and panting at times. Her droppings are diarrhoea. I have some probiotic, so could I give some of this on some grapes. I do use cider vinegar, but your dose rate seems a bit higher. Can you help?
VICTORIA ROBERTS SAYS: We have been experiencing very hot weather this summer and keeping water fresh and clean and making sure hens have enough shade is always a problem. Their feathers are so insulating that they can struggle to keep cool. Most people know to keep feed dry in a vermin-proof bin and use it before the use-by date on the bag. What has happened on many occasions this summer is that the feed bin has been in the strong sunshine causing the feed to sweat in the ubiquitous plastic bags. This can lead to mould and thus toxicity, so when doling out feed keep an eye on the pellets for any that are either stuck together or obviously mouldy and throw those bits away. Then move any feed bins that are likely to be in the sunshine or put a reflective cover over the bin so that it does not get as hot. The normal dose rate for using cider vinegar is 50ml:500ml for one week a month. There is no need under normal conditions to use it all the time, but any stress that the hens have — such as adverse weather, a children’s party, a thunderstorm — will be counteracted by the cider vinegar as it enhances their immune system. Fortunately the hen in question has now recovered.
This bag is in a cool place, but those left in strong sunshine can prompt the feed to sweat