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You will never make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, so if you have spent winter cursing
the bad design and shoddy workmanship of your leaky, drafty coop or if it is starting to
look like a shanty-town shack, then perhaps it is time to buy a new one?
For those persevering though, get suitably dressed for the occasion in outdoor gear or
overalls. It will be a dirty, dusty and wet job (and do get whatever you are wearing in a hot
wash immediately you finish to guarantee no bugs have escaped the clean).
Start the clean as early as possible and on a nice bright day; ideally the hen house
should be completely dry before you spread new litter and cleaning often takes longer
than anticipated. Bear in mind wooden sheds and coops dry out slowly, so don’t use
gallons of water unnecessarily.
Arm yourself with the usual tools; buckets or trugs, wallpaper scrapers, shovels, dust
pans, wire brushes (the ones sold for cleaning BBQs are ideal and most have a built in
scraper!), pump spray bottles, disinfectants and all the mite - killing powders and potions
you own.
Prevention is better than cure” and “a stitch in time saves nine” are things your Grandma
may well have said, and with good reason when it comes to hen house hygiene: ridding
the house of overwintering red mite eggs and adults, and making it inhospitable to
newcomers now, will save you a whole lot of time and expense later in the season. Of
course it will also keep your hens comfortable and pest - free. This is especially important
when sub - zero temperatures have not had the opportunity to help knock back the pest
population.
First job is to remove your birds from the area. Let them out for a peck about in the
garden if it is safe to do so as they are of no assistance when it comes to cleaning their
rooms. They will get under your feet, overturn your buckets and poo on your gloves
should you leave them unattended!
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continued on page 57)
By Ian Farrar