Any advice please on caring for hens in winter when working full time?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by PaulaMc, Dec 2, 2016.

  1. PaulaMc

    PaulaMc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aaaww Eggsited4life,

    What a lovely reply. Thanks so much that makes me feel a lot better.
    I wish I didn't need to work ha ha but it's just me, a 26 years old daughter, 4 cats and 6 hens-so not an option [​IMG]ha ha. Six years until retirement ha ha.

    Thanks again [​IMG]
     
  2. PaulaMc

    PaulaMc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks to everyone for your fantastic replies.

    Once I have gone through my first winter with my lovely ladies I will not fuss so much [​IMG]

    You have all given me some fantastic advice.

    As I live in the suburbs predators are not much of an issue - I hope. A friend keeps hens in the next street who roam freely in the garden all day without any issues.

    Can I please ask another question? How do you all thoroughly clean your coops in winter? When the weather is damp and cold, hosing the coop is out of the question as it wouldn't dry. I use an old vacuum cleaner to get as much bedding out as possible, spray crevices with poultry shield and dust liberally with DE every weekend. I wash the perches and nest box dividers in discinfectant and dry them against the radiators in my house. I also remove all poop and refresh bedding etc every day. Is this OK?

    Thanks again [​IMG]
     
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    That's far more cleaning than I do. My new coop is over a year old now and not seen a water hose yet. Bedding is exchanged on bi monthly basis with a shovel. In winter I try to take more poo out so will take off top layer of bedding under roosts and add some more shavings every month. Keeps the moisture down.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Definitely more cleaning than I do.....well, I use poop boards so sift out poops from sand/PDZ mix every other day.
    But my pine shaving bedding only gets totally changed out once, maybe twice, a year.

    I would never use anything liquid to 'clean' and certainly wouldn't 'hose' it down.
    Water helps organisms grow and moisture in the coop is not good for their health any time of year.
    Unless you have one of those totally plastic coops and can really dry it out before rebedding.
    But then poop doesn't stick well to plastic and should be easily scraped off if necessary.

    Disinfecting the coop shouldn't really be necessary either...unless you've had some horrid disease in there.
    Nor is removing every speck of bedding, just get the poops out, leaving some bedding should be fine.
     
  5. PaulaMc

    PaulaMc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks to you both for the great advice. Much appreciated.

    I have trawled the internet since getting the girls and there is so much conflicting information it's so confusing.

    I had red mite and was traumatised as I thought I was doing everything right. I thought that by weekly cleaning it would stop any pests - am I on overkill?

    Thanks again [​IMG]
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Mites usually come from wild birds, tho they can come in with birds purchased anywhere except day old chicks from a hatchery...
    .......cleaning won't necessarily keep them away, and either will DE.
    If you get mites you need a pesticide to treat both birds and the coop, especially any/all cracks and crevices and nooks and crannies-that's where a liquid pesticide would be most useful.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
  7. PaulaMc

    PaulaMc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much Aart.

    My first three ladies were ex battery hens. The three silkies I got from a friend who didn't want them any more. I also get a lot of wild birds in the garden. That explains a lot-wondered where they came from.

    Doh! How silly am I?
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Ehhh..not silly...just inexperienced.
    Keeping chickens can have a huge learning curve...lots of little things.
     
  9. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    I will NEVER clean that often. [​IMG]

    So, I have almost 50 birds. I use washed river sand in my coop and a light layer (with PDZ) on my poo boards. Every 3 days I rake my boards and dispose of about 15 to 20 gallons worth of poo. I scrape any poos off the roost that might have gotten there. I rake what's on the coop floor. Then add more sand if it seems to shallow.

    I used to use the litter scoop until I realized my flock was too big for that to work in a reasonable amount of time. And started remembering how we did it when I volunteered at the zoo rehab center.

    I have seen red mites. I live in the PNW where wild animals abound! [​IMG] Never have used DE and don't like it. Just standard dirt bath. Will probably spray with Permethrin if I ever need to. Used all new lumber in our coop. My vet SWEARS that I need to treat for fleas and ticks. But after being here for 2 years, haven't had a single one on my 3 dogs, 2 goats, or 48 chickens. We sleep with the dogs and anything that will bite is going to bite my husband. Plus the way the dogs love tummy rubs always gives a good chance for inspection. And although I do believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, I refuse to treat with chemicals for what I don't have! In no way do I believe my property is safe or I do things any better. I've just been fortunate so far. The big problem for my dogs is actually mosquitoes. [​IMG]

    My Mother in Love thinks by switching her dishes around to different cupboard often she won't get cockroaches. [​IMG] Now that is silly! If only it were that easy. Haven't had to live with them as an adult, but I could probably tell some childhood nightmares. [​IMG] When I lived in the valley I would hit a nest of them in the garden sometimes and the girls sure liked them.

    No matter how clean we try to keep things, the chickens will sample the poo that just hit the ground from another chicken. [​IMG] I clean before there is any heavy smell in the air. The amount of cleaning one must do though is dependent on their set up. With lots of space in the coop and most out on pasture all day, less cleaning. But when it's raining and they all stay inside I have to clean more often. I also don't keep my feed in the coop so they aren't pooing in there every time they are standing around eating. I only have shaving in my nest boxes and when I have chicks.

    Yes, I think you might be on overkill a little with the cleaning, unless your space is too small. Less often would give you more energy, probably. You might be able to sleep that extra 10 minutes. [​IMG]

    And, I also would consider setting the Silkies up in their own permanent space. Might save you some time. To me time is money and mine is more valuable than gold, once it's gone you can't make more.


    The learning curve is so big that even 5 years later I am still making adjustments as I learn what works and doesn't for me. Experience is the mother of all teachers (ha you're a teacher). What looks great on paper doesn't always transfer to real life. People with experience make it look easy. But they only got there by practice. I still have more things to learn. Funny it seems like the more I know, the less I know. At least the more I know the more I know what I don't know! How's that for silly? [​IMG]
     
  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Bigger coops need less cleaning. I am a big fan of deep litter and a some scratch. My old bedding is headed to my garden, and I like it to be very broken up. Scratching through it to get the scratch seed, really dries it out, and freshens the coop. However, I have a walk in coop, a 4 x 8 and live in a dry environment. Smaller coops need much more cleaning.

    I agree, I don't ever use water. Humidity and dampness is not good for chickens. I just use a pitchfork to pull the bedding, a broom and a dustpan. I don't have a poop board, but I don't have more than a dozen head in the winter.

    Mrs K
     

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