Henhouse clean up (561)

by Max Akroyd

Poor hens. It couldn’t be put off any longer: the clearance of their house that is.

They live with the guinea fowl in a former cow house. It’s about a hundred square metres of floor space and so far there’s just eleven birds in total. I use a deep litter system of straw on the concrete floor and this would normally go for months before everything needed clearing out.

But at this time of year the area near the door gets a bit damp. Not good. And being ex-battery birds, who never learnt to roost, they like to sit in on the floor at night and make a right mess over time. The hens have taught the guinea fowl to lay eggs in the nest box – and I’ll always have them together in future having stumbled across this useful synergy. But a guinea fowl never taught anybody anything so our hens don’t roost. If you had cause to look in our hen house at night, you would see a load of hens sitting on the floor in a corner and the guinea fowl sitting on the perch facing the wall! Like ‘greedy pig’, my smallholding experience has taught me the validity of the expression ‘bird brain’.

So a few barrow loads of mucky straw to export to the trenches on the field and much sweeping and general sorting out: all under the vexed and beady eyes of the mini pigs who live in the adjoining former cow house. With their big heads pressed through the iron gate, they don’t see any valid reason why they shouldn’t join in the fun and steal any eggs on offer – despite having had their bottoms pecked mercilessly by irate hens on previous forays…