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Poultry Spring/Summer Care

29/09/2010 After a harsh winter, time should be taken to thoroughly check through your chicken coop and run. Evaluate the condition of the housing, fencing feeders and drinkers, everything that could be damaged by winter weather. These jobs shall be your main priority as they prevent predator attack. Posts which have worked loose and hinges that have rusted due to metal corrosion are best dealt with now.

Safe as Houses - The roof of your poultry house is one of the first jobs to check especially if its felt has had endured a few winters already. Some people make patch jobs but its best to strip the whole roof and refelt the coop and or run. This in turn means that your birds have a dry and warm house, which is not prone to leaking. You could also consider using plastic sheeting although this proves to be more expensive it is easily fastened to a frame and helps to prevent red mite attacks.

The wood on the coops will also need some attention in the way of a protective coating. Most wood stains are chemical free, which means they are safe for your animals. Although oil based stain such a creosote substitute will also help fight the red mire. Dip the perch ends into the paint also and let it soak in well, as this is where the critters will tend to hide.

Coop Fixtures and Fittings – Cleaning out the hen house is obviously a weekly task but with spring in the air a more thorough clean can begin. Remove all perches, internal nest box dividers, feeders and drinkers to give more room for the coop to gain a thorough scrub with a safe disinfectant such as virkon s or poultry shield. Scrape down all the perches from droppings and any that are too encrusted should be replaced with new.

A pressure washer is a great tool to help you get things really clean but use this on a warm day to ensure that the coop is dry before replacing the bedding and your hens. Whilst the coop is empty you should be spraying for red mite with a pressure sprayer used for weed killer (obviously a new one) Get into all the cracks and crevices where the mites like to hide and give them a thorough soaking.

Finally use stalosan f dry disinfectant to spread over the coop floor before replacing with shavings to help with any insect or ammonia problems.

You should also be checking for signs of rats of mice, as these need to be dealt with quickly as numbers can increase rapidly. Look for signs of knowing, droppings and hard to reach areas such as under the coop if it is not raised off the floor, a perfect environment to bring up their young.

Run Areas and Pens – Any ground that has been used for a while will by now probably be sour and in the hot weather can create a smell. Nows the time to rotavate and lime the ground once poultry have been moved to a new spot.  Regular digging over of the areas is an effective way to help prevent disease and parasite build up.

Equipment - Once feeders and drinkers are disinfected give them a thorough going over check that all parts work and release the products properly that they are intended for.  Theres nothing worse than faulty equipment, which could put your birds at any risk.

A Good Clear Out – The local tip is a way of disposing of animal bedding and if you’re lucky enough your council will pick it up from your door in wheelie bin collections. For some of us leaving litter in neat piles can be a simple solution when the weather is bad but these can provide an attractive place for nesting rodents. You could transfer some to your compost heap or see if the local allotment would be thankful for the rotting material. A farmer could also add this sort of waste to his slurry pit, if asked nicely!

Whilst in the right frame of mind have a major clear out getting rid of any old feed bags, any rubbish around sheds just anything that can attract vermin to your premises. Vermin traps should be placed around any known rat runs to keep down the numbers and stop these destructive and potentially dangerous pests.

By keeping areas clean and clear around your poultry houses you’ll go a long way to help eliminate rats and mice. These creatures love old pots; feed bags, bedding etc so in practical terms keep the site rubbish free.

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