Fed up with the weather? We are!
Struggling to keep your pens mud free?
Some helpful ideas in coping with this wet weather that seems never ending .
The simplest and least expensive way is to put down a good deep layer of wood chip down , depending on the size of the area over all of it or just over the worst areas.
You can make this a quick method of controlling the mud to some extent by just spot treating or if you want to and have a small run you can dig up the turf , make it as level as possible lay down a turf sheet/ membrane of some description peg it really well all the way around the edges of the pen and put down a kick board all the way around so your poultry don’t just flick it out of their area. Then lay a good deep layer of wood chip all over. This wood chip will need raking over periodically and topping up or taking out but should last a good long time .
To keep down on smells and growing bacteria dusk over with a ground sanitizer once a week after its raked (we use and recommend Agrisec) This is a great product that helps absorb the wet , control any nasties and cuts down on smell . It is specifically made with poultry and mind and safe for all animals and it works !
Another idea is to keep areas of of high traffic in and out the house in and out the pen and around the drinkers and feeders doubly protected is to raise the ground level by using pallets ( you can pick these up for free around industrial parks and the like) It just keep the birds off the ground in that area – we also use/sell disco ( green plastic platforms) that do the same job for the drinker and feeder , stopping the ground around them from getting too muddy and getting into the feed and water. Just be warned that the palletts can get slippery and icy in cold weather for us humans ( not a problems for our feathered friends)
If you can get wood chip from a local tree surgeon than this can keep the cost down . We sell wood chip here on the farm for £10.00 a dumpy or small trailer load . Do not buy bark as they bark just absorbs all the damp Bark is a mulch designed to sponge up water and hold it – the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve! Bark also gives off aspergillosis spores which are harmful to chickens.
The percentage of bark in a mixed wood chip is fine we use it here in all our pens in our mud management plan and have never had a problem. We leave it heaped up in some areas as the chickens love to scratch around in the highest heaps.
Our method in our poultry paddocks as they quite large is to wood chip the area around the house area , feeder and drinker , the gated area into the pens and in any low ground . We keep topping it up as needed and in the spring and summer the grass just grows through . The chickens love the mixed terrain . In our smaller poultry pens we try and keep them on hard standing of some description and use wood chip on the whole of the floor , using Agrisec weekly and raking then cleaning out emptying on a monthly basis if it has been really wet.
I hope the above helps , you will find lots of people have their own mud management theories , using sand , gravel, rubber chippings etc and go to great expense. Our method is sustainable, chicken friendly , natural and simple with out costing the earth plus the wasted wood chip makes a great mulch for your garden and if you add it to your compost heap will eventually make a great compost! In the dry weather the chickens even love to create their own dust bath out of the wood chip! It is a winner all ways