Prepare your Flock for Fall!
Here are some essential tricks and supplies for cleaning up after a summer of bird keeping. Also, how to gear up for a Winter of bird rearing.
Greetings to all bird raisers; you are my kind of people! Now that our cooler Fall temperatures are here, I find it easier to get done with all those bird chores I might have let slide through the Summer. I usually shirk the chores for a nice Minnesota day on the lake or just to enjoy sitting with the birds instead of cleaning or getting things done around the poultry yard. I have compiled a list of the things that will be top of my mind going into late September and early October when looking at my birds.
Fall Coop Cleaning Supply List
Disinfectants for Your Equipment
I like to disinfect my equipment before the Winter comes. This means that I will take all of my waterers and feeders and do a deep clean. I will try to get out the pressure washer to get all the gunk off of them both inside and out. Technically they should always be kept clean, however, I feel like doing a deep clean in both the Spring and Fall is a good practice. I will disinfect my waterers and feeders after I have gotten them completely clean. I also like to get all of the litter out of the poultry house give it a good sweeping and clean all the roosts and nest boxes. Once again these should always be kept clean however they can get away from you and Fall is a good time to reign in the mess and get it disinfected. Once I have all of the litter out of the coop I will spray it down with a disinfectant. Do this on a nice warm sunny day and get a fan going for airflow. This way the disinfectant should dry out before you allow the birds back into their coop for the night with the new shavings. I also think this is a good time of year to disinfect all of your incubation equipment; you already have all of the supplies out and you will thank yourself next Spring when you have a clean incubator when you have eggs to hatch. (Incubation is my favorite part of keeping chickens so I always like to be ready. Sometimes we get eggs back at the shop unexpectedly after a mislabeled package gets returned so I need to stay vigilant with clean incubators so I can incubate these surprises!)
Be sure to get disinfectants and cleaners that will work well in an agricultural setting. Not all disinfectants are created equal so you want to sure that you get the right disinfectant. We offer a few quality disinfectants at Stromberg's, as variety is the spice of life even when disinfectant shopping. Many poultry farmers swear by using a bleach solution. These farmers are not incorrect in the effectiveness of bleach at sterilizing, they are, however, not considering its effectiveness in a farm environment. Bleach solutions rapidly become inactive when they encounter any organic material... What does this mean?? Basically if you are sterilizing any farm equipment whether it is your feeders, waterers, incubators or poultry house they need to be perfectly clean of any organic material before using a bleach solution otherwise they don't get disinfected. So that means that you have to clean the environment before you can clean the environment. If your time is worth anything at all I suggest buying the correct product, doing your best at cleaning the organic material out of your waterers or incubators and then use the proper agricultural grade disinfectant to make sure your time was not wasted. Here are the three that I would recommend. Tektrol, Virkon and Bioquot. Choose the one that best fits your budget or your methodology. I like the Virkon tablets because they are effective and they are easy to mix into solution. It is an anti-viral, antibacterial, and antifungal treatment that is SAFE for use in animal housing, even misting over the birds. One tablet mixes one pint of water meaning eight tablets for a gallon for the bigger jobs. I also like the tektrol spray, it is easy to use and very effective in a farm setting. There are larger sizes available for both of these products if you need to do a big job or just like to be prepared for future cleanings.
I may sound like a germaphobe with all this talk of disinfectants and cleaning, however, I feel like this is an important aspect of keeping birds. By disinfecting and cleaning your poultry house and equipment you bring down the bacterial loads. By bringing down these bacterial loads you reduce the number of bacteria in your poultry house. There will always be bacteria present in your incubators and your poultry house. However, if the bacterial loads are lower in your poultry house your birds are less likely to have health issues and sickness if they encounter stress. Stress in a birds life is big issue in winter and that is exactly why I want to have a clean poultry house coming into this time of year. A big part of raising poultry, for most of us, is to enjoy home grown meat and eggs and to have healthy meat and eggs we need to keep our poultry houses clean!
Prevention of Parasites in Your Poultry Flock
Get the proper wormers and insecticides to keep your poultry and poultry house bug free.
As mentioned earlier, a bird that is stressed is more prone to getting sick or diseased. To help keep stress to a minimum be sure to inspect and treat all of your birds for parasites. I suggest getting louse powder and treating every bird. This will help prevent mites and lice for your birds; be sure to treat the vent areas in addition to under the wings. Also you can use this on the floor of your poultry house. This is also a good time to treat your birds for worms. For this we carry the water soluble Wazine. I treat my birds once a year since they are outside and pecking at the dirt and have probably picked a worm parasite up. We also carry Scalex for scaly leg mite treatment. For those of you looking for an organic route we sell Oil of Oregano products formulated to prevent internal parasites from taking hold.
Keeping Drinking Water Available
In the cold climate of Minnesota, I plan on using a heater base to provide unfrozen drinking water throughout the Winter to the chickens. The waterfowl provide a greater challenge as they must have a waterer deep enough to dunk their heads and bills in. Using this rubber water tub works well even if they freeze they won't break and the ice can be broken out easily.
This is also a good time of year to make notes and band the birds for breeding next Spring. Be sure to have a copy of the APA Standard of Perfection so you can be sure to find the best birds for your pairings. If you have bantams have the Bantam Standard on hand.
This is also a great time of year to look over your poultry house and make sure it is in good repair. Be sure there are no broken windows or areas where drafts or rodents can get in.
For us in the northern climates, this is a great time to think out how you will be walking to your poultry house in Winter months. You will need to think about shoveling snow and keeping the area free of ice. While carrying feed and water to your poultry house, ice can be a real danger to the poultry keeper!
As a good check it is important to remember to keep your grit and oyster shell hoppers full and cleaned out. These two vital components of a bird's diet should always be offered free choice for the bird's consumption. Be sure to use a dust mask and gloves when working in the bird pens, dusting or handling the birds.
From all of us poultry fanciers here at Stromberg's, we wish you nothing but the best in the upcoming season!