Category Archives: Coop care

Lesson 1124 – Smelly Chicken Coop – what a neighbor can do.

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I recently got this email from a reader who is having problems with his close neighbor’s smelly chicken coop. Read the letter, my reply, and if you have any suggestions, please let us know.
Problems with backyard poultry smell

I’m hoping you can help me with a desperate quandary I have regarding my neighbors.  They have a coop and it is SO smelly.  The backyards are not big and they do have it as far away as they can, maybe 50 yards away from my backyard (maybe less), but the smell is so atrocious that I can’t use my backyard, screened in porch or even open the windows in the back of the house because it smells so bad.  I spent the evening yesterday cooking in the kitchen with the only window in the kitchen shut because I couldn’t take the smell anymore.  It was barely perceptible last year but this year it seems to be omnipresent especially in the afternoons and evenings.  It is especially rough lacking any central a/c as we need to be able to open our windows. Continue reading

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Lesson 618 – Releasing of the chicks

This morning was our annual day-before-the-first-day of school party. I’m not even sure how this little tradition started but we’ve been doing it for years. It’s a great way to celebrate the end of summer and transition into the beginning of a new school year.

So how does it work?

First, the night before, the kids go to bed according to our household “school-week” rules. That means absolutely no TV and although we have a few staggered bed times based on ages and grades, it also means that most of the kids are up in their bedrooms by 8:30 reading with lights out by 9:00.

Which meant that last night, Marc and I were able to sit and – quietly and uninterruptedly – read in the TV room for pretty much the first time since school had let out last June – imagine that!

This morning, the day of our party, after we had roused the kids at 6:30 am by banging on pots and pans and singing our best renditions of Girl Scout campfire songs (at least the ones I could remember) we put bacon in the frying pan, coffee in the machine, and set the table with freshly baked muffins, bagels with cream cheese, slices of melon and an assortment of berries.

Most of the kids drank orange juice while a few of the older ones and the adults attacked the coffee. Continue reading

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Lesson 617 – The tools of tending a flock

When people ask me what it takes to tend to a flock of chickens, I tell them that in order to raise good strong chickens that will someday contribute to the community you’ll  need the following. Continue reading

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Lesson 614 – Wasps in the hen house

Photo credit: computerhotline

On my post about mucking out the hen house, a friend left a comment about how he had a wasp’s nest in his henhouse. There were three complicating factors to this wasp nest.

  1. It was inside the hen house where the chickens nested and because of that he was reluctant to use any pesticides.
  2. He had contacted the local “critter” company who said they could get rid of it for $150 (yup, you read that right) which would have made for some very costly eggs.
  3. He is highly allergic to insect stings.

A conundrum if I ever heard one.

I reached out to my fellow chicken owner friends and checked around a bit and these are the suggestions I got:

  • Leave it be, wasps eat other pesky bugs and are not such bad company to have.
  • Wait until night time and spray the nest with a high pressure hose.
  • Wait until night time and spray the nest with an orange oil containing product like Orange Glo.
  • Tape a bag around the nest (a clear bag so you can see what’s going on) and in a small hole insert a wasp killer spray and let the nest have it. You’ll know it’s worked when you see no more activity behind the bag.

I also got these comments from my facebook page:

“We had a bad infestation of wasps a few years back, but it was on the outside of the house. We just went to home depot and get got wasp spray. I suppose you could get all the chickens out first, bomb the coop and then remove all the hay, etc. We had fleas too and we removed all the critters from the house plus us for 3 hours on a Sunday morning and then just washed all the critters. Like I said, good luck.” Continue reading

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Lesson 613 – I see a big mucking-out in our future

We are at mid-August in New Hampshire and while we still have (sweltering and humidity-packed) summer heat, our evenings are starting to cool down.

And of course that means that we have a very big muck-out coming our way in the next few weeks.

Although we’ve been taking out the old wood chips over the summer, we’ve also been added new chips each week. This has resulted in some parts of our coop being covered in a high layer of chips. Not necessarily the worst thing in the world until they push against wires or get in between door hinges.

See the buildup? If we don’t remove that before it freezes, we’re going to have a lot of wire damage.

The first cool weekend that we have this fall (I’m guessing mid-September) we’re going to have an old-fashioned muck-out in the hen house, you know, out with the old in with the new. In preparation for winter (when we only add chips and do not remove any) we are going to take them all out and put down a fresh, clean layer on which to add. Continue reading

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Lesson 598 – Those darn flies – Part 4 (Last one, I promise)

 

For the record, that’s Marc-Lord-of-the-flies taking this photo, not me.

Because I find this morbidly fascinating and am obviously not done with this topic, here are some more fly photos. We emptied yet another full bottle of flies yesterday and this is what our trap looks like from being hung for just a few hours this morning.

Yup, that’s me with the long, long legs in this photo.

I know, crazy, right?

Can I be the first to say that this is just ridiculous? I have no idea where all these flies are coming from and why all of the sudden there seems to be such an influx of them (and why they hadn’t been bothering us at dinner – polite flies, maybe?)

I’ve sent email to the UNH (University of New Hampshire) Agricultural Cooperative Extension (they’ve been very helpful in the past with both tick and chicken questions) asking them if they’ve gotten complaints of flies from around the State.

I also asked them if they have gotten complaints, might the mild winter be a factor in all this. Basically, what is going on in New Hampshire with regard to flies?

I have yet to hear (the woman who usually answers questions is on vacation) but when I do you can bet I’ll be posting the reply.

In the meantime, we’ll carry on with our fly traps (but I promise you, no more dead fly pictures, enough is enough.)

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Lesson 597 – Those darn flies – Part 3

Boy do I have news for you about fly traps!

Last week Marc had gone to the TSC to get some traps because we have a neighbor who is complaining about flies. (Note, although we had seen some flies near our coop, we did not see “problem” numbers and in fact, we eat dinner outside every night without any interruption from flies – so we didn’t even known this was an issue but *sigh* you do what you have to do for neighbors.)

Last week I told you about the useless yellow trap (that is already in the garbage.) In short, don’t bother.

This week I’m going to tell you about  the fabulous Starbar’s Captivator Fly Trap. Captivator is a large plastic jug that comes with a tube of yellow liquid. You mix the yellow liquid with water and hang up the trap. (Hang the trap away from where people will be congregating – tables, chairs, etc.- the reason becomes very evident after a few days of that liquid maturing in the hot sun.) The flies enter an angled black tunnel in the lid to get to the goods. Once inside the bottle, because of the design they can’t figure out how to escape. It’s a deceptively simply and yet ingenious design. One part of me feels sorry for these bugs that are being sent to their death but then another part of me reminds myself (while I’m eating a slice of bacon) that we are talking about flies here.

The first few days we got only a few flies – not entirely impressive.

But then something happened. On about the third day, we noticed that flies were really getting excited about this trap. On a visit out to the coop we saw a single solid layer of flies covering the surface of the liquid inside the bottle. Now, we were beginning to approach impressive.

Then each time we went out to check on the trap, literally an inch of flies had been added. Those insects were going CRAZY over the trap. By the end of the 5th day, we had to close the trap because the flies had filled the bottle and reached the top. Marc left it shut overnight in the hopes that it would kill the ones that were still alive so they wouldn’t fly away when we opened the trap to dispose of them. Continue reading

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Lesson 596 – Those darn flies – part 2

This is a continuation of yesterday’s discussion on coop fly control. The reason I said that we might have a fly problem is that although we have some flies, it’s difficult to know where they are originating from. Our property faces woods and runs along a river, with the mild winter last year and the many trees that came down during the Halloween snowstorm, there is a lot of decay out there right now (let’s not even add in our neighbor’s dogs, cats, flowers, and that dead thing out by the road.) We’ve never had flies before so it all leaves us wondering, which came first? The chicken or the fly?

Anyway, in order to keep neighborhood peace, Marc went out and got a few chambers of doom.

This first one is called EZ Trap and the product description is:

Revolutionary design provides 3 times the trapping surface of leading sticky fly traps and is insecticide-free and odor-free. Ideal for stables, kennels, gardens, homes, patios, porches or anywhere flies and other flying insects are a problem. The special long-lasting adhesive is rainproof, so they can be used indoors or out. Easy to use, can be placed on any level surface or suspended.

Basically it’s a riff on the old sticky tape fly catchers found in every horse barn around (not exactly revolutionary in my book), except that now they’ve put the tape on a pretty bright yellow Escher-like decoration tasteful enough to be displayed at a get-together in anyone’s back yard. The trap is insecticide and odor free, and as an added bonus is rainproof! It all sounds really good right? Continue reading

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