Monday, 3 November 2014

How to Get the Most from Hardwood Woodchip for You and Your Birds

November has started with a drizzly weekend here in Dorset, but it still seems unseasonably warm and the trees are almost refusing to drop their leaves. However, it is November and thinking of the impending winter to come (probably wet and windy again) I thought, despite my desire to be outside in a t-shirt, now would be the time to refresh the chicken run woodchip surface ready for whatever the English winter cares to give us.

With good care, the refreshing of the woodchip needs only be an annual task and we find it's best done before the really wet or cold weather arrives. The FSF Blog this week turns its attention then to how to maintain and care for the hardwood woodchip to get maximum use and most benefit for you and your hens.

Flyte so Fancy’s Hardwood Woodchip (a playgrade quality with softened edges and of a relatively uniform size with very little bark) can provide an excellent chicken run surface to keep your hens ‘entertained’ as well as clean and healthy. They will just love scratching it around looking for elusive bugs and worms and it will, with care, create a clean barrier for them to live on, out of the mud.

Properly maintained, a good layer of woodchip will last from 6 months to a year, but how do you get the best from your woodchip?
Poultry Run Wooodchip Floor

Raking and Washing

One of the best ways to keep your hardwood woodchip clean and fresh for your girls is to regularly, roughly once a fortnight, give it a rake over and a good wash with the garden hose. As the woodchip is lighter than the mud and soil that clings to it, by raking it and washing it back and forth, the hardwood woodchip rises to the surface again to create a clean barrier on top of the mud below.

Poultry Flooring for Chicken Runs

It's entirely possible that your neighbours will think you've gone a bit potty if they see you, but one of the best ways to keep your woodchip clean is to regularly treat it with a poultry disinfectant, mixed in a watering can and to walk back and forth watering the ground. This is best done in the twilight after the hens are shut in the house on a dry day.

A good disinfectant, like Net-Tex Viratec-P Poultry Disinfectant, cleans and disinfects in one application, highly effective against fungi, bacteria and viruses, it is ideal for washing off the hardwood woodchip, DEFRA approved against all notifiable poultry diseases, it is safe for you and your girls.

Sanitising Powder

Ground Sanitiser Powders are fantastic for treating the ground in your run, to treat against issues such as worms, as eggs, larvae or fully grown, as well as parasites and germs. Flyte Coop and Run Sanitising Powder is a new generation ground sanitiser with a  DEFRA approved disinfectant, effective at keeping the ground clean and fresh. Sprinkle it onto the woodchip and let it settle through to take care of any worms or parasites. Completely safe for chickens (you can use it in the coop too) it's best to do it at night, as it is just easier to do without your flock of girls under your feet.

Doing these three simple tasks roughly once a month (more often with the raking and hosing if required) you can keep the hardwood woodchip in your chicken run clean and sanitary for your birds for around a year, saving on the chore of constantly having to remove and refill the poultry pen.

Time for some mathematics.

A sack of woodchip weighs somewhere between 15kg to 20kg depending on moisture content, will cover on estimate around 10 sq ft with a depth of 2" - 3". 10 sq feet is an area 10ft by 1ft or approximately 1 metre by 1 metre.

To calculate your run area, times the length of your chicken run by the width then divide by 10, which will tell you how many bags you need. For example a 9ft x 9ft run needs 8 bags.

9 x 9 = 81, divide by 10 = 8 bags.

Woodchip for Chickens
The FSF Chickens Approve the New Woodchip Layer
If you dont already use woodchip or have any questions about the hardwood woodchip or treating your chicken run to keep it healthy and clean for your girls why not leave a comment below or call us on 01300 345229 to talk to a member of the FSF team.

Thanks for Reading