Chicken Pens and Animal
Pens; Use Fire to Prevent Disease
Chicken pens and animal pens should be
very clean to ensure chicken health and healthy livestock. Fire can be
your friend, preventing diseases from occurring year after year.
As I was out burning my own chicken
pens I realized that no everyone understands the importance of fire in
the relationship to keeping animal pens healthy. Water cleans, fire
cleanses. Everything about fire is beneficial The heat, ash, even the
time it takes to burn is all relevant to cleansing the earth under it.
learned to work the
avoid such things as fire, nature used it once a year to do her own
spring cleaning. Now it is up to us. Anywhere animals are confined you
have a greater chance of illness. Many of those sicknesses come only
from being penned.
Problems like hoof-rot, coccidiosis
and even ammonia are less common, if
ever known at all, in
an animal that is allowed to choose his own space.
When cleansing chicken pens and animal
pens, remove the animals, then rake up what you can and use it in your
garden. We all have trees and we all have leaves. Use these as your
Nothing has better ash then leaves. Use
old hay or
whatever you have if you must, but leaves are the best. Go to the town
dump , if necessary, and get other peoples' bags of leaves if you have
to. Make one pile, there is a reason for this, and don't use gas to
You want it to burn slowly and
naturally. There are no extra
points for the largest flames or the fastest start. Actually you get
points deducted for that.
As your fire burns you will notice you
have to rake further and further from the fire to bring in new burning
materials. This is also a good thing, you are clearing the ground so
that you can move your pile. As a large amount of ash collects under
the pile the fire will start to refuse to burn, so rake your fire over
a bit and uncover that pile of hot ash under it.
Add more leaves to your fire and spread
that pile of hot ash around. About an inch of hot ash spread around
will clean any ground. Keep moving your pile and don't start a new one,
you will be less likely to move it as much as you need to if you do.
Thus you won't have the amount of hot ash you need to cover the area
you need to.
When you are done the entire area the
chicken pens and animal pens should be covered with about an inch of
hot ash. It won't take long to cool and you can walk on it with shoes
on with in a few minutes. This ash is as important as the heat. You
will now have a worm-free, disease-free area.
Let the ground rest about a day before
putting your stock back in. I do this with my chicken pens about 3
times a year. With my goats, I do it in the spring
and fall and before and after kidding. The rest of the year my larger
stock is out to pasture so there is no need to be as vigilant as I'm in
the chicken pen where they are confined more hours of the day, year
round. Your poultry will also benefit with the ash baths they will now
take. Lice on your
chickens will be gone so if you dip them or Ivomec them before
putting them back, you will have healthier birds. The ash, once they
bathe in it, will also deter external parasites.
I keep my chickens
in an area of the yard that is basically unusable for anything else. I
live in an oak forest, and their pen is on a hill that is covered in
leaves, gets no sun to speak of so the light allows no grass and only
trees to grow. The hill is impossible to mow and the slant adds to the
moisture. I know what you are thinking... How can your birds stay
healthy in that?
Believe it or not they actually benefit
that area. I keep a pair of Muscovy ducks
in there to control snakes, as the snakes love the moist cool ground
and leaf cover. Another reason to burn a lot. I allow the birds
sunshine once a day and they return in the evening to roost. I do this
only 3 times a week so they don't find new roosting places and I don't
have to go search for my birds after dark. The chickens also take care
of the seeds and the ducks the acorns that would allow yet more sapling
growth. Worms and insects are also overly abundant in that area.
When building your area for birds you
need to consider things like where they can most benefit you. Your
animals must be working for you in ways other then just laying eggs or
having babies. Let their manure, their eating habits etc., be your
friend, not your full time job.
House your sheep and goats
garden space over the winter, so in spring you have all that crappy hay
to put easily between rows of plants, and all that manure
have to spread as it's already there for your plants. Colony raise your
so that you can afford to actually have rabbits. They poop in one spot
as a general rule so removing the piles to the garden is easy as
scooping it into a bucket once a month, or week depending on the size
of your pens.
The more you think about where things
will live, the less work and more enjoyment you will have. The day it
takes to burn off the chicken pens will save you weeks throughout the
treating sick animals.
By Gypsy, our resident homestead blogger
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