Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Been awhile! Birds in the heat.

Sorry for my lack of posts. Here's a synopsis of what has been happening at the oven usually known as the Tiny Farm.

It's been ridiculously hot here. This whole week the high is around 115 and the lows are in the low 90's. This means that the birds never get a break. The muscovies were being real troopers until today when they finally started panting and just hanging out next to the water dish in the shade all day and completely giving up on chasing me around, which seems to be their favorite thing to do. I don't know why they don't just get in the water.
The chickens are far less heat tolerant than the ducks and are really miserable. Every morning around 5:30 am (when it's a brisk 94 degrees) I give the birds some cool vegetables (lettuce, melon, cucumbers etc) to get them hydrated and cooled off. The sprinklers come on around 6:30 and get the area under their favorite bushes nice and wet. Around 9:30-10:30 when the temps get to around 105, I put frozen water bottles with no lids, in shallow pans under their bushes so they can drink the cool water or stand in it if they want to. I replace the frozen water bottles around 3 or 3:30 when the temps are about 115 and hose off the bushes they hang out under to make sure it stays damp under there for them. Once they go up to roost at night I hose their feet/roosting bar off, which they don't particularly enjoy, but I think it helps them.

The quail get their water from one regular water bottle and one that was frozen the night before so as it melts it makes nice cool water (until of course it heats up into unpleasant warm water). Instead of filling their dust bathing dish with sand, I fill it with ice a couple of times a day. Like the chickens, they stand in it and drink the cool water. I also put a few ice cubes on some heavy cotton fabric in the cages so it keeps the fabric cool as the ice melts.

As you can see keeping birds in the desert, especially the chickens and non-native quail can be a big pain, luckily it's only this much work when the temps are consistently over 110 for several days in a row. Which is hopefully less than three weeks a year. Even with the extra steps each chicken is laying an average of only one egg a week. (Interestingly, the quail are still laying around 5 each a week.) I know lots of people that don't take quite as many extra measures, but I feel like it's my resposibility to do what I can to make them comfortable since I'm responsible for bringing them to Phoenix.

I also have about 100 coturnix eggs in the incubator due to hatch around July 27th! This will be my first batch of quail eggs to hatch from my own birds, I'm interested to see what kind of hatch rate I get.


Wyndfire said...

My ducks are not happy either. I have Khaki Campbells. Last summer, they wreent happy, but they were ok. This summer is much harder. We made a shade canopy out of 2x4's and sheets bought at the Goodwill. I wet down the sheets in the morning, and they hang out under that for a good part of the day. I also use a misting system in the hottest part of the day for them. I have thought about freezing their water dish...

penni said...

do any of you ever read about what birds like and how best to provide for them. it seems every one is interested in amusing themselves and not think must about the birds.

markel said...

these birds do NOT like to walk on wire. they prefer the ground . the wire actually hurts therir little feet.

rachelbess said...

@penni and @Markel
In short, yes, I do consider the birds. The quail haven't been on wire for quite some time now (the post you are commenting on is two years old). They are in a very large dirt-floored aviary with boulders, hiding places, vines etc. If you are commenting about the fact that the birds are being kept in Phoenix where it gets hot, well, yes, I think about that too. There is a period in the summer that really sucks for all of us, I do a lot to make the birds comfortable. Nearly every climate has a period of the year that is unpleasant, there isn't much I can do about that.

Gary said...

Arizona is one of the few places you can actually raise quail on the ground and not worry to much about disease. In areas where it's damp, rains enough for the ground to hold water. You either raise them on wire or have two separate ground pens to rotate the quail from one to another. This has to be done to prevent disease. I've seen a lot of quail on half inch wire and have yet to notice any favoring their feet.