Friday, 14 June 2013

Cleaning A Poultry Pen

Every chicken keeper is familiar with the daily chores that go along with keeping your poultry pals happy. The filling of feeders and drinkers, the scattering of a handful of corn or the hanging of a pecking block are all daily tasks in the chicken keepers diary and Flyte so Fancy's diary is no different. Once a week in the Flyte so Fancy diary is marked with clean out the chicken coops, no mean task with a flock of thirty chicks, ducks, guinea fowl, geese and chickens. Flicking through the diary you will find highlighted once a year, removing and laying new hardwood woodchip in the Poultry Protection Pen that we have on display here at FSF HQ.

First of all the pen was cleared and the three Silver Spangled Hamburgh Hens and one Rooster that live inside were given the rare opportunity to range across the Flyte so Fancy grounds. The old woodchippings were taken off to the herbaceous borders and put around the plants within, where they will stay protecting the flower beds nicely.

The chickens love the woodchip; it keeps them clean, it gives them something to scratch through all day long, is washed through with the rain and it keeps the mud down. It is much better than bark, which we don't advise due to it quickly turning mushy and leads to mould spores. Softwood on the other hand quickly degrades and gets mixed into the mud, while hardwood woodchip sits on the surface and can easily withstand all weathers.

Once the woodchip was all removed, the ground was given a treating with Net-Tex Ground Sanitising Powder. A sprinkle on the ground kills worms and parasites at all stages in their development and will mean the likelihood of your birds ingesting worms is greatly reduced, resulting in a healthier and therefore happier bird.

Next up was the new layer of woodchip. There is no need to put down a membrane or remove the grass and a bag of hardwood woodchip will cover approximately 10 sq ft with a depth of around 2"-3", so for our 9 x 9 protection pen we used eight bags to give it a good covering layer all over. Once it was all in, it was raked over to an almost spirit level precision of flatness.

While the chicken coop was out of the run we took the opportunity to give it a good scrubbing out with Poultry Shield and also mixed up a solution in a tub and put the perches and nestbox in for a soak, before removing them and positioning them in the sun to dry out. In went a new fresh layer of HempBed-E, along with the liberal application of Diatom powder to the corners, around the perches and in any crevices.

Once the house was clean it was positioned back inside the run, as well as the feeders, drinkers and a boredom buster pecking ring for good measure. The last job of the day involved trying to round up the wayward hens and rooster who were terrorising the grounds of FSF HQ. The use of three people, a catching net and the broadcasting of mealworms in the doorway of the protection pen, soon saw the four chickens returned to the safety of their hen habitat.

If you look in the the Flyte so Fancy diary, all crossed off, was the daily task, the weekly chore and the year job. Not bad for an afternoons work.

The chickens certainly seemed pleased with it too.

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