One of the basic things required when raising chicks or adult birds in confinement is bedding. Bedding is one of the most neglected areas in raising poultry, and actually it is one of the most important.
Many of us clean our chicken houses or pens once a year. Some even wait until it gets so bad that it makes your eyes water when we step into the chicken house.
How can we expect to raise champion birds in these types of conditions? When we step into a chicken pen and we have trouble catching our breath, how can we expect our birds to do well?
It’s very simple. When the bedding becomes discolored or wet, change it! It doesn’t matter if you use wood-chips, wood-fines, straw or hay; keep an eye on it!
It takes several pounds of water for a bird to digest one pound of feed. Much of this moisture comes from fecal material. Moisture also comes from the rapid breathing of the birds. Birds flicking and splattering water, while drinking, add even more moisture to their living conditions.
When the moisture is absorbed from the manure, then the fecal material starts breaking down further, and starts adding to the dust problem. This dust detracts from the birds’ respiratory efficiency.
Diseases thrive in this type of health condition. Waterers get dirty easier. Eggs get dirty easier, as well as feed.
We’ve gone through all of these aspects in regards to the health of our birds. Now, what about us? How can we enjoy our hobby when the conditions are filthy? How can we say that we gave it our “best shot”? How can we complain that “ole so and so” always wins top honors with his birds, and our birds are always down the ladder? Maybe now is the time we can also start complaining about the judges, show management, politics, etc. I realize this is hypothetical, but how can we say “I’ve done my best” when we don’t even keep our poultry pens clean?
When we start out raising birds, you know about clean water, clean feed, and heat. Now, keep an eye on the condition of the bedding. Take pride in your birds, your facilities, and the cleanliness of your pens. (by Bart Pals)