Next open up or disassemble the house as much as you can,
taking out everything that can be removed. These items can be
thoroughly washed, disinfected and left to dry or replaced with
new ones if they are beyond cleaning or have any evidence of
mites. Remember the mites thrive in inaccessible, undisturbed
places so check underneath the droppings tray and on the
ends of perches and the sockets they sit in as well as the more
obvious cracks, crevices and joints in floors, walls and roof for
the tiny red dots or the tell tale grey powder they leave behind.
Now ship out all the loose litter and bedding, but don’t throw this away. Your dirty poultry
litter contains a mass of nutrients and is a powerful compost activator, so mix it straight into
your compost heap and cover. It would burn young roots if placed directly around your
plants and while not harmful, it is often a bit too whiffy and attractive to the dog to use
around my bigger shrubs and fruit trees so composting first is best.
If you have a car vac or an old Hoover in the garage then use it to rid the ceiling and walls
of the hen house of as much dust, dander and cobwebs as you can.
Use the vac’s brush attachment and run it slowly over every gap, groove and join. Modern
plastic and composite coops are designed to be taken apart and blasted clean with a
powerwasher, but in wooden houses the vac totally removes the dust, bugs and any pest
eggs, rather than redistributing it inside the coop.
Check and clean any windows to increase interior light levels and make sure ventilation
grilles and holes are all clear.
Poultry manure and broken eggs adhere to wood and floors like superglue and if dry
scraping isn’t working you may need to soak then scrub or scrape the affected area before
leaving to dry. Remember that a damp house is no good for your hens, but also a lot of anti
mite powders are less effective when wetted, so use water sparingly.
While the inside is drying, you can give the outside of the house and any wooden parts of
the run a good brush down and a coat of preservative. Now that oil based traditional
creosote is no longer available, even pressure treated timber needs more regular care as
the water based treatments used don’t protect wood for as long.
Mineral felt roofs seem to be getting thinner by the year; so make sure there are no tears
or holes in yours and that they fully overlap the roof. If not, rip it off and fit new felt or
replace it with something more substantial. There are an increasing number of people who
are turning away from mineral felt for poultry coops as if badly fitted it can create the
perfect hiding place for mites (yes they can live on the outside of the house as well as the
Lock hinges and catches should all be oiled and working fine then it is time to spray, shake
or scatter your chosen disinfectants and bug deterrents. Read all pack instructions
carefully and concentrate the stuff in the nooks and crannies mites will head for if they
Finally once everything is dry, replace all the parts and equipment, spread the new bedding
and take a few moments to gaze upon the perfect, pine fragranced and satisfying scene…
before allowing the hooligan residents back in to frantically kick litter everywhere as though
searching for precious lost belongings and generally continue their dirty protest. Ho hum.