We are pleased to be able to offer an additional Chickens 101 course on Saturday, May 27, 2017 at the John Janzen Nature Centre from 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM MDT. Registration is available through Eventbrite. We hope to see you there!
Once the snow finally melts, it is time to think about spring cleaning. It sounds like a chore, but a thorough cleaning a couple of times a year will save you time in the long run, and help keep your birds happy and healthy.
We've put together some ideas to get you started, but there are lots of other articles online. Do your research before you start, and consider your circumstances. For example, you may be using the deep litter method, or may be cleaning the coop in response to illness in your flock, in which case you may need to modify your cleaning procedures accordingly. With that in mind, here are some basics to think about.
Pick a nice warm day where your hens can free range or move to an alternate enclosure for several hours or even longer. You don't want them around while you are cleaning, and you don't want to reintroduce them to the coop until it is safe to do so.
Gather your cleaning supplies: garden fork or shovel; bucket and scrubbing brush; assorted rags for dusting; disinfectant of choice; wheelbarrow or garbage bags. You are going to get very dirty, so wear suitable clothing. Consider a dusk mask, as well, to protect your lungs.
Remove the bedding from the coop. If you plan to compost, move the bedding to your compost site, adding any compost amendments necessary to establish a hot compost. You can read more about how to make this wonderful stuff here. Edmonton also has free composting information, including a composting help line. If composting is not an option, double bag the bedding and discard as per your garbage disposal regulations. Make sure you get all the bedding out of the corners. A good outdoor vacuum can come in handy.
Remove any droppings that may have gotten stuck, for example on the roosts, walls or floor. Dust all surfaces and and ensure the coop is completely empty.
Disconnect your electricity. Thoroughly wash the coop, including the walls, floor, roosts, ceiling, nest boxes and windows. Go behind any crevices that could harbour mites or other critters. Clean under any flooring you may have installed. Rinse the coop, and mop up any puddles.
Consider whether any improvements are needed for your coop. For example, seal any drafts you may have noticed over the winter. Chickens need plenty of ventilation, but in the winter the coop must ventilate upwards, without any air blowing across the chickens. Consider whether any ventilation changes are in order to help keep your hens cool in summer and dry in winter. If you saw evidence of humidity in your coop over the winter you likely need more ventilation. Make any changes you think are necessary to your roost, nest boxes, predator-proofing and insulation (make sure your chickens can't eat your sealer or your insulation!)
Once the coop is clean and ready, disinfect everything. You should be disinfecting water and food dishes on a regular basis, but this is your chance to get all the spots germs like to hide. Apply your disinfectant of choice according to the manufacturer's instructions. Follow all safety recommendations both for your sake and for the sake of your chickens.
Make sure the coop is absolutely dry and that any fumes from your disinfection have dissipated. Keep in mind that the timing of this will depend on the disinfectant you use - don't reintroduce your chickens until it is safe to do so. Once the recommended time has passed, add back your bedding, and, finally, the hens.
We can see the ground here in Edmonton (in places), and that has some people thinking of eggs hatching and of chickens clucking. The City has not changed its position with respect to backyard hens, but if you want to learn more about whether backyard hens are for you, should Edmonton decide to allow them, a couple of fairly local groups are offering courses.
It has always been a goal of River City Chickens Collective to offer this type of thing, but that will have to wait until the City is further down the road in terms of legalizing backyard hens.
Offered by CLUCK Red Deer:
Offered by Shovel and Fork: http://shovelandfork.com/shop/backyard-hens-new/
River City Chickens