Hen home improvement

Sometimes the list of DIY jobs on the house we’ve been renovating for five years can feel endless, so there’s nothing more appealing than a mini project outdoors that we can finish in a day. James has been particularly keen on creating a dust bath for the large flock of hybrids down the end of the garden, though I’m afraid I wouldn’t even entertain the idea till we’d at least bought a tap for my own much- anticipated freestanding bath that’s been sitting like a rather large ornament in the bathroom – unplumbed – since 2007. Tap received and installation in motion, I give the poultry facility the green light. The girls will love a place to clean their feathers and cool down and it’s the least we can do when they lay all those beautiful orange- yolked eggs for us, our friends and colleagues. A dust bath is also an opportunity for hens to rid their feathers of pesky insects – a handy poultry book we’ve been consulting sagely advised adding some louse powder so the girls shaking this into their plumage along with loose soil and ash from the woodburning stove so they’d medicate themselves. Tidy. We set to work gathering necessary tools and materials – all odd bits that we have knocking around – and wheelbarrow them down to the chicken run.

One of the new brown hens offers to help


– 2 x vertical posts (for the legs)

– 1 x piece of wood (to run horizontally along the side of the existing undercover run and fix the dust bath roof to)

– 1 x thin plank (to place in front of the dust bath to prevent the girls’ shaking and kicking out the contents) 1x sheet of corrugated iron (for roof to keep the dust bath dry in wet weather)

– Selection of old terracotta roof tiles (we used these to prevent the hens catching themselves in the chicken wire that lined the outside of the undercover run)

– Screws

Step 1: Rotavating loosens the soil to help the bird dust themselves
Step 2: Digging holes for the vertical roof-supporting posts
Step 3: Terracotta tiles line the chicken wire to prevent any wing injuries
Step 4: Levelling and screwing on the horizontal roof support
Step 5: Screwing on the corrugated-iron roof
The finished poultry spa area

In just an afternoon, the poultry spa area was declared open and one of our youngest hens was keen be the first to try it out (below).

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