Monday, October 24, 2016

My Least Favorite Barn Chore

Every fall, I shovel out all the shavings that have accumulated in the hen house over the past year, and replace it with new.  I shovel the shavings, dirt, chicken poop and feathers into a small trash can and then dump it in a far corner of the pen where it can compost.  I fill the trash can over and over and over again.

Fine dust coats my clothes, my shoes, my hair and I sneeze dirt for hours afterwards.  A number of years ago, when Camille was in high school, she volunteered her boyfriend to help me.  Poor guy.  I sure appreciated his help, though.


It's gross.  Every third or fourth trash can full, I sit on a rock with my back against the tree and catch my breath.


After it is clean down to the plywood floor, I add fresh shavings in the nesting boxes and on the floor.

Throughout the year, I scoop out wet shavings and chicken poop from the nesting boxes and toss it on the floor.  By the following fall, it is quite deep.  Some of the chickens roost on the ladders Brett built, but some of them sleep (and poop and pee) in the nesting boxes.


The chickens are molting right now so we aren't getting many eggs; some days we get one; some days none.  When the chickens molt, they loose all their feathers and grow in new ones.  The floor of the hen house was covered in feathers before I cleaned it out.



While the chickens are molting, all their energy goes into growing new feathers.  They have no energy left over for laying eggs.  The process can take three months.  Our beautiful chickens look pretty ugly during the process; like they got in a fight with a coyote or something.

Fortunately, they don't all start and stop at exactly the same time.  But, they all molt October-ish so that is when the egg production plummets.  We have two hens that hves finished the process and they are gorgeous, with shiny new feathers.  One of them is pictured, snuggled into a nesting box, above.  She layed an egg right after I took her picture.  I'm hoping the other chickens finish up molting soon as well.  We are running mighty low on eggs.

7 comments:

  1. I do hope you where a mask that stuff can be nasty. HUG B

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    1. I didn't wear a mask but Brett and I talked about how I really should. Next time I will. Promise.

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  2. Ugh - same here. Haven't gotten an egg in five days and my stash is getting very low as well. I really want to avoid buying eggs...

    What do you know about adding light to the hen house to up the egg production? Do you supplement anything to help the ladies grow their new plumage?

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    1. I have heard about adding a light to the hen house to keep up egg production but we don't do that. I like the ideas of the hens getting a break in winter; I think a period of rest is a good thing, even though it is very inconvenient for us. I supplement the hens with oyster shell and they have a block (like a salt lick) that is made for chickens. We do feed them meat scraps periodically but I don't give them additional protein when they are molting. I'm pretty laissez faire about our flock management (its easier to let them be and not meddle too much).

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  3. Ewwww, but what a great feeling of accomplishment afterward. I have to give that boy credit for helping you. He deserves some extra points. LOL.

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  4. Yuck, that sounds like a terrible job- have you thought about buying the disposable coveralls ? That way you could just throw them out after.

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  5. It sounds like a messy job that has to be done. But you don't have to like it. I'd definitely wear a mask though. Breathing all that dust and feathers can't be good for you. The new feathers look beautiful.

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Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.