- Aug 27, 2011
I have only been raising laying hens since January of 2011. We bought 6 ready laying hens and 4, 3 week old chicks in January. The chicks were Buff Orfingtons. They grew very nicely and to our surprise starting laying very nice eggs about a month ago. We were getting anywhere from 6 to 9 eggs a day total. We live in a valley in southern AZ and it gets really hot here. I built a very nice coop with plenty of both outdoor and indoor room. It is fully enclosed, predator proof, and has shade for the outside. I have plenty of automatic watering that I check on from time to time to make sure all is well. I feed them home grown veggies with the protein mash. I installed a evaporative cooler that was on a timer. It would come on at 10 am and go off at 6 pm. 2 days ago we had a massive monsoon storm with lots of lightning. We had a strike not too far from us during this storm. Yesterday I go out to feed them in the morning, all is well, the ladies were doing their usually morning greeting. By the afternoon it hit 115. I had to make a run to the land fill, came home and rested a while from the heat. About 6:30 PM I went out to collect eggs. I noticed that there were only 5 hens outside so I whistled for them and nothing. I knew right away something was wrong. I opened the door to the coop and to my horror I see 3 of my buff orfingtons laying dead on the floor. One of the barred next to them and the 4th buff orfington in the nest dead. I could not believe what I was seeing. My Little chicks I raised were dead. I looked to check the water, it was fine. I went to look at the timer for the cooler and it was all zeros, no time on it. The lightning strike must have done that, it has a battery backup built in, but it must have fried it. So the cooler never came on. Last night, and mostly today I am just riddled with guilt. These little orfingtons were the ones who would come up to me and loved being picked up. I will realty miss them. I have learned a lesson. I am going to install some sort of audio temperature alarm for the coop. I feel like I really messed up. I guess this sort of thing happens and it is impossible to plan for everything. I am posting this so that maybe someone else who raises chickens in the hot desert can learn from my mistake. My mistake was trusting an electronic timer for a life or death scenario.