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The Croad Langshan Club

Health and welfare

Keeping your birds healthy will always be better than trying to cure a sick bird.

  • 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 by DEFRA.
    • 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 laid.
    • 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)
  1. Large plastic tub for taking used shavings from the coop to the compost bins also for washing drinkers in
  2. 3 large compost bins for composting shavings and droppings (from your local Council?).
  3. Outside hose pipe with adjustable spray for cleaning and filling drinkers daily.
  4. Coal shovel or trowel for cleaning coops.
  5. Wide paint scraper for getting into corners and scraping droppings boards when cleaning coops
  6. 5-litre pressure sprayer to help you attack red mite.
  7. Poultry Shield mite control, virucide and cleaner (cheaper when you buy several - get together with local keepers to buy)
  8. 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 value).
  9. Can of Decimite - find it on the web or Ebay
  10. Wood chips for pen floor.
Useful remedies for the poultry keeper
  • Garlic
  • 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

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