“Prevention is better than cure” – that’s the best way to reduce problems that you might (being the operative word) encounter with disease and parasites, which can trouble your hens.
Tips for a Happy Home for your Hens
Three essential needs should be met to ensure the house/ark is suitable for the hens.
- Firstly, nest boxes need to be at a suitable height, size and in a darkened area of the house.
- Secondly, perches need to be situated above the height of the nest boxes to discourage the birds from fouling them over night. The perches should be flat and approximately 2” square, with the edges planed for the hens’ comfort. Always check the perches are not sitting one above the other, as the birds sitting on the lower perch would likely be covered in poo!!
- The most important issue is ventilation. Hens can withstand any amount of cold (knitters not required, they just shuffle-up together in their feathered-duvet coats). Heat can cause a tremendous amount of stress leading to panting, gasping and a fatal heart attack, very quickly. The ventilation must be at the top of the house to reduce exposure to draughts and allow the air to circulate through and overhead.
Scaly leg mite
Can originate from the litter on the floor. The mites burrow under the leg scales causing painful irritation. The scales turn crusty and in very severe cases can cause damage to the circulation of the legs. Certain hens are prone to this problem, Faverolles in particular. I have found the best way to control them, is by applying a thick layer of petroleum jelly on the legs, which cuts off the air supply to the mites. This should be done on frequent basis, a bit messy, but well worth it for the comfort of the chickens.
As a rule of prevention “treat one hen, treat them all, on a regular basis”
Red mite infestation
A serious problem, as the mites will crawl along the perches at night onto the roosting hens, biting into them and sucking their blood. (Proper little vampires!!) If not dealt with as a matter of urgency, the hens will slowly die of blood loss. The red mites will live in every crack and crevice within the poultry house. Creosoting the walls of the house will prevent establishment of the mites, which are only red if they have recently had sucked blood, otherwise they are grey in colour.
Tips to Keep your Hen House Mite Free
- Keep your henhouse clean.
- Treat the walls with Jeyes Fluid ideally weekly and spray into every nook and cranny.
- Ensure drinking water is clean and fresh, as are the receptacles.
- Remove uneaten food at the end of the day, which would indicate too much, therefore reduce amount provided to discourage rats and mice.
- Creosote the henhouse yearly to prevent red mite invasion.
The more free range your hens are, the less likely they will be beset by any diseases.
And OH! How happy they will be!!