How to make hay work in your hen house

NZ Lifestyle Block - - NOTEBOOK -

IN LAST MONTH’S IS­SUE, we ran a story on coops and stated that hay was the worst of the com­monly-used floor­ing/ nest box op­tions as it is not ab­sorbent and so tends to stay wet, en­cour­ag­ing bac­te­ria and moulds.

But Ja­nis Cu­sack, a long term poul­try breeder who or­gan­ises the Wan­ganui Poul­try Club, wrote in to stand up for hay, say­ing she has been hap­pily us­ing it in her hen houses for 17 years with no is­sues.

“We have found that a lot of chook peo­ple are not par­tic­u­larly well off and if they do have an in­come, few want to splash a lot of dol­lars on chooks.

“Your rea­sons for other bed­ding are ex­actly why I rec­om­mend hay to ev­ery­one: easy to ac­cess, easy to clean away etc. We have a lot of new peo­ple com­ing into poul­try and they want to be able to start sim­ply. You want some­thing easy for them to start with, not some­thing ex­pen­sive/hard to ac­cess.

“Af­ter shift­ing from an area where straw was read­ily avail­able at a rea­son­able price, I have used hay ex­clu­sively for all chook house floors and nest boxes with no wor­ries. We now make our own hay for cat­tle and use the previous year’s crop for the chook houses. We put a shal­low layer 3-5 cm deep on the wooden floors of Pekin ban­tam and silkie houses… ev­ery month or so we pack the soiled hay into feed sacks, that we then leave for sev­eral months be­fore us­ing in the vege gar­den as com­post. Works a treat.”

NZ Life­style Block poul­try ex­pert Sue Clarke rec­om­mends wood shav­ings as the best floor­ing and nest box op­tion, but says if you are us­ing hay, it’s im­por­tant to:

• make sure it is sweet smelling, free of mould and store in a dry place, off the ground, away from wild birds or other birds to avoid mite in­fes­ta­tions;

• re­place all the nest ma­te­rial fre­quently, es­pe­cially if birds sleep/poo in the nests or when an egg gets bro­ken as the damp­ness from this will en­cour­age mould growth quickly;

• if hay is used on the floor, en­cour­age birds to scratch it over of­ten to keep it aer­ated and to aid break­ing down – scat­ter­ing grain on the floor daily will en­cour­age them to turn it over;

• be vig­i­lant for mites and clean out all bed­ding and nest ma­te­rial be­fore spray­ing in­sec­ti­cides to kill mites.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.