Hurricane season has begun, and will continue to rage on through September and October. What’s worse? The East Coast is being threatened by Florence, so I thought this would be a good time to share how I prepare myself and my chickens for hurricanes every year.
I’ve lived on the East Coast for years despite being from the north, and I do have to say it’s quite pretty! All the mountains and beaches, along with seafood. But of course, life has its downers. The East Coast is referred to as “hurricane alley”, just like the mid-west is “tornado alley”. Both are bad, but I am lucky enough to never have seen a tornado, though I’ve been close to one! I have been through two hurricanes now, and both times haven’t been fun. The horrible rain and damaging winds have the power to destroy, so it’s important to take the right precautions every year.
Having pets in a hurricane is a whole other level as they can get stressed as well, but at least dogs and cats and what-not can be inside with you. Chickens cannot, and same with any other farm animal. Old advice says to let horses and other large animals run free when there’s a tornado or hurricane as they have a better chance of escaping, but chickens and other birds shouldn’t be left out as they’re bones are to light, meaning they can get blown away. Keeping them in a strong coop, barn or garage is a much better idea.
What about my chickens!
Everytime there’s a warning about a bad thunderstorm or hurricane, I always think of my chickens, like any other flock keeper. Their safety is important, but so is your own. Remember, you are more important than your flock, no exceptions. No matter how much you love them, you have to remember about yourself.
As I mentioned, chickens need a safe place to shelter during any bad weather. Chickens are smart and will seek a sheltered spot such as the coop you’ve built them, but unless your coop is the new Fort Knox, it’s best to find them a safe place to hide. Depending on how strong the winds are dictates if they need to be moved. A sturdy shed or a secure and strong coop will work, but sometimes it’s best to take the extra step. I put my chickens inside my garage. It’s brick and strong, so I have no doubt they’ll ride out the storm everytime. This is the first time I’ve moved them, and I’m sure they’ll have fun digging in the straw I laid down!
As your chickens won’t be able to roam, it’s important to give them indoor activities. Laying down straw for bedding is a great option as they love to dig in it and find the seeds. Sprinkling scratch grains, mealworms, and any other dried bug in the straw works to, as they have to work to find the treats. If you’re garage isn’t attached to the house (like mine), then it’s important to give them everything they would need for three days as you won’t be able to safely go outside. Moving them inside of a barn or garage is the best way to go, to make sure they’re safe, but if that’s not an option, put a tarp over everything to prevent leaks and drafts, and make sure the coop is secure and hopefully won’t be damaged. Don’t panic to much, chickens are pretty resilient and will do fine as long as they are safe.
What about Food and Water?
Where I live, when the power goes out the water stays on, but the water becomes dirty from the rain, and I don’t want my chickens drinking dirty water! With that being said, fill up all the waters you have and leave them out at the same time. I have enough waters that are big that when added equal about 8-9 gallons of water. You want to have enough water to last your flock a week basically. You never know when the power might come back on and the water will be clean again. I add ACV and vitamins to their water to handle the stress and give their immune systems a boost. Chickens don’t like change, so it’s important to keep in mind that they’re stressed to!
For food, you want to leave out enough food to last them a week as well. Fill all of your feeders and pans full, and hope no one poops in them lol. I mix up a big batch of the feed mix I use in buckets and a large garbage can, and scoop out as much as I need throughout the few weeks, but I’m going to leave most, If not all of it, out for them. I feel so bad for them, being locked up in there with no one to check on them, so I make sure they have enough of everything plus some.
How do I prepare for the Hurricane?
Us people need to stay safe to, so it’s important that you have everything you need. Here’s a basic list of what you need to prepare and what your chickens need. This is only a basic list, so be sure to go with your common sense!
- Water: Be sure to get plenty of water, enough to last you and your chickens a week. it sells out fast, so be quick!
- Plastic silverware and paper plates/bowls: These are good to have as when the power goes out (if it does), you won’t pile dirty dishes in your sink waiting to wash them
- Phone Chargers that don’t need to be plugged into a wall: Charge your external chargers for 24 hours before the hurricane, as if the power goes out, charging your phone normally won’t work. Put your phone on low power mode and use it only when necessary to conserve battery.
- Flashlights and candles: It’s important to be able to see when it’s dark once the power goes out, not only that but it will smell good in your house!
- Food: have enough food for you and your chickens, as the roads can be flooded and damaged.
- Coolers: For when the power goes out, fill with ice to keep refrigerated items cool.
- Radio or an app to get updates on the hurricane: Your TV won’t work, so this would be wise
- Evacuate!: Sometimes evacuation is the best option, especially if you live in an evacuation zone.
This is only a starting list for people, so for more visit ready.gov
I think it’s important to be prepared for hurricanes, and for your chickens, common sense really does come into play. If you can take your birds with, then take them, but if not, move them inside. It could save them. On a funny note, spoil them while you’re at it! They’ll love it!
Dancing with Chickens