Health and welfare
Keeping your birds healthy will always be better than trying to cure a sick
- Housing and health
- Housing should be draught free and well ventilated
- Should be easy for you to clean and maintain - removable perches,
removable droppings boards on the floor work well.
- Perches should be wide
enough for the larger bird and not too high off the floor - eg 2 � inches
minimum wide, 12 inches from floor or lower, as large birds can hurt their legs
by falling or jumping off.
- Make sure there is a good layer of shavings to
cushion the jump down from the perch. o Nest boxes should be ample for large
birds, communal ones work well as the male may go into the nest box with the hen
to check for snakes...!
- Check weekly for red mite in the summer and at least
monthly in the cold winter months.
- Use a product like Poultry Shield to
control outbreaks and Decimite to keep perches and nest boxes mite-free.
- A sprinkle of farmyard louse powder everywhere inside the coop when you clean it
out helps keep parasites under control
- Use Stalosan F or similar on the floor
of the coop to reduce bacteria and fight any damp conditions.
- The healthy pen
- Slipping around in mud is no joke when trying to
feed and water your birds in the winter, it's no better for the birds. Chipped
wood for the garden as a mulch in the pen works well, use a 3" deep layer
around the coop. Garden suppliers will often deliver economically, (about �40
for 3 cubic metres). Don't use ornamental bark as this can introduce
aspergilliosis (a fungal lung infection) into your flock.
- Shade for the summer
and some kind of shelter for the winter will improve the conditions for your
birds. This can be dual-purpose and be a cover for food and water as recommended
- Watch for fresh diggings that might indicate rats in the pen and use
traps or a good rat poison (obviously protecting the bait from wild birds,
poultry and pets - a section of drainpipe is a good place for bait. Rats spread
disease and should be controlled. They love compost bins!
- Occasional access to
grass is better than no access at all - let your birds out for a stroll if you
can do so safely o Watch out for bullying and feather pecking, hang up green
things (cabbage stalks etc) to peck at, or polystyrene packaging can give bored
birds something else to do.
- Boosting the immune system
- The best way to fight infection is by
promoting a strong immune system in your birds.
- Keep challenges by parasites
as low as possible by tackling lice, mite and worms at regular intervals.
- Worm your birds with an effective wormer in the spring and autumn - eg Flubenvet
is licensed for poultry. Use 1 teaspoon to 5kg feed, mix a little cod liver oil
or linseed oil in pelleted feed to help the powder to stick. If you can't get
what you want in your local animal feed supplier, look at sites on the web.
- Control red mite outbreaks by weekly spraying of the coop in warm
weather, monthly through the year - even when they seem less obvious. Use
Decimite around perches. You can use any cheap pressure sprayer to apply the
Poultry Shield and wash away the mites. Poultry Shield breaks down the waxy
coating on the mites and dessicates them. Make sure you spray the roof and get
into the joints of the coop. Repeat the following week as the eggs take 7 days
to hatch. This treatment will also control hen fleas.
- Check your birds for lice which live on the birds and treat with powder or spray, look
particularly around the vent area, under wings and around the neck. o Keep
drinkers and feeders clean. Apple cider vinegar helps to keep algae and slime
down in drinkers, use a cap full to an 8 litre drinker. This acidic tonic is
good for fighting bacteria too.
- A clove of garlic in the drinker, changed
weekly, may also help to boost the immune system. Combine this with a soluble
multivitamin when the birds are under stress - very hot or cold wet weather,
during the moult.
- Food-grade linseed oil or cod liver oil, if added in a very
small quantity to feed, (approx 2 tbs to a bucket of feed) helps to promote good
feather growth during the moult. It also boosts the omega 3 content of the eggs
- Antibiotics tend to really stress the immune system. Respite is a
natural alternative, though very smelly and quite expensive. Finely chopped
garlic in apple cider vinegar and a multivitamin are cheap additions to food to
help your poultry stay healthy.
- 10 useful items for managing poultry housing (pick them up in garden centres,
supermarkets, DIY or hardware stores, animal feed suppliers)
- Large plastic
tub for taking used shavings from the coop to the compost bins also for washing
- 3 large compost bins for composting shavings and droppings (from
your local Council?).
- Outside hose pipe with adjustable spray for cleaning
and filling drinkers daily.
- Coal shovel or trowel for cleaning coops.
- Wide paint scraper for getting into corners and scraping droppings boards when
- 5-litre pressure sprayer to help you attack red mite.
Poultry Shield mite control, virucide and cleaner (cheaper when you buy several
- get together with local keepers to buy)
- Stalosan F - absorbs ammonia from
droppings, makes droppings boards easier to scrape, keeps floors dry, reduces
spread of disease (25kg sack from local feed suppliers, shop around for best
- Can of Decimite - find it on the web or Ebay
- Wood chips for pen floor.
- Useful remedies for the poultry keeper
- Apple cider vinegar
- Multivitamin solution
- Food grade linseed oil
- Flubenvet wormer
- Dettox anti bacterial spray - or veterinary antiseptic
spray for cleaning any bleeding wounds
- Poultry mite and louse powder
Check other clubs' web sites for useful tips.
These tips provided by Club member and breeder Clare Curtis
amended 6 February 2014