Henkeeping for the most part is pretty simple. You do little more than let the flock out in the morning and shut up the house at the end of the day, feed and water them, collect those all-important eggs and clean their coop at the weekend. But there are a few extra jobs to be performed once every few weeks, such as worming (easy with herbal and spice pellets from a company such as Verm-X – you mix them into their usual ration of feed) and keeping on top of red mites (all-natural Diatomaceous Earth is brilliant for this – we use one called Diatom. Simply puffed around the surfaces in the coop, it eliminates the parasites).
Then there are those more intimate, one-on-one monthly treatments which take a little more time such as applying louse powder (there’s a lovely-smelling type by Barrier) directly to each bird, around the vent area. We’ve discovered the best time to do this is at dusk when the hens have put themselves to bed and are docile enough to be handled. It’s a pretty smooth operation these days as we take the opportunity at the same time to treat scaly leg mite (this nasty pest burrows under the scales of chickens’ legs, making for some discomfort), which involves dipping their legs in surgical spirit (poured into a suitable tall container such as large yogurt pot) and then smearing them in petroleum jelly (which helps kill-off the mites)! As you can imagine – and fellow henkeepers will agree – it can get a little messy, but it’s good to blitz these tasks in one go! We managed to treat Audrey and Mabel last Monday evening and have booked in the hybrids for their monthly service next weekend.