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Thursday, 20 September 2012

Cleaning out the Chickens

You may be wondering why I am bothering to tell you all about how I clean out the chickens; and to be honest the only reason is that I fancied writing another blog and this is all I could think about putting! 

I usually clean them out every 10-14 days depending on how dirty they get - which usually depends on how much it has rained. I think this time it had been over two weeks as they haven't been that mucky with the slightly drier weather. It also helps that we poo pick their house every day to keep it fresh.

The house before starting
Their bedding is very simple and doesn't cost me a penny. I use cardboard (we collect when we get parcels delivered etc.) on the floor of the house and nest boxes, protecting the wood. It then gets covered by shredded paper for them to snuggle into.

With only two chickens I could probably get away with not cleaning them out as much as I do but I worry that red mite could easily make homes in the cardboard. Also, when the top has been shut a few days we get a family of woodlice living in the cracks. I don't know if this is true or not but I worry that if woodlice can live, so can red mite.

Fist of all I clear out the whole lot, take the bottom off the nest box and wash it all down with some lightly soaped water. I quickly learned that if you use too much soap it is impossible to get rid of all the bubbles. However using none at all isn't enough to get rid of all the muck. I'm sure you could buy some special substance to do this but I just use a little bit of washing up liquid which does the job nicely!

 I then leave it to dry and then spray everything with Liquid Smite to protect them from mites. As I only have a cheap house it has a fair few nooks and crannies so I make extra sure that the gaps get a good dousing. On the nest box lid in places the felt is starting to lift too so that gets lots of spray too, I've heard the little buggers like that stuff.  In terms of red mite prevention that's more or less all I do. I have some Smite powder too but I rarely use it as (touch wood) we have never had an infestation. What I'm doing seems to be enough so far!

Once it has dried again I measure and cut out the cardboard so it fits nicely in the bottom (this is easily the most frustrating bit as it's tough to cut) and then fill with shredded paper. Having just finished university there is ample waste paper lying around; we also get family to save it for us so we end up with loads of the stuff. The chickens seem more than happy with it too! This time I put a fair amount in the main house but I don't always as they tend to drag it out and decorate the run with it, particularly when they are confined to the run and not able to free range.

Every other clean out or so we also dig over the run. If its been really wet it can get quite smelly so to make it more pleasant for both them and us we also mix some Stalosan into the soil, helping to dry it up and sanitise. 

I used to HATE cleaning them out as it took agges but the more I do it the quicker it gets, and it's not that bad really.  It rarely smells awful and the main mess is caused by the dry dirt they take in after having a good dust bath in the garden. Actually I think the chickens now dislike it more than me! I also have to be careful with the Smite Spray as I am sure inhaling too much of it isn't that good for me! More times that not I get a bit snotty and chesty after spraying a lot of that stuff!

 It's thirsty work all this cleaning business!!

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