by Tammy Taylor~
RancherMan & I really enjoy raising hens each year. We don’t really have a market for the eggs since I no longer work in an office. Most folks around here are raising their own chickens for their own eggs. And a friend of mine is selling eggs the local Farmer’s Market so I don’t want to move in on her business. So every year we just buy 3-4 hens. It’s enough to provide us with the eggs we want. And we allow them to free range part of the day so they get much extra protein (and some excitement) from running around the house eating grasshoppers and such. The garden pests are eliminated by them while providing us with even healthier eggs. That’s really a win/win, no?
We typically sell these girls in the late fall. They’re prime-age egg layers but we don’t want to have to overwinter them and their value is much higher as productive egg-layers than meat in the freezer. Then in the spring we’ll buy new pullets and start again. So I’m far from a chicken expert, but I thought I’d share what we do to keep our girls happy & mite free.
I’ve read that providing wood ash is good for the hens to dust bathe in and the ash takes care of the mites. Hey, our antique wood-burning stove has wood ash in it from last winter. That makes it easy to provide ash to them.
There’s not been a fire in the fireplace for several months so of course it’s completely cooled. I simply shovel some ash into a large plastic container. Then I set it in their pen, they seemed to really love it.
I subsequently moved the bowl of ashes beneath the little a-frame cover where they like to hang out during the day to stay cool. I figure this will keep dew and rain off of it – they like to dust bathe beneath that cover anyway. It works out great!
Now in searching the internet I see most folks also provide wood ash to their chickens. But of course no one thing is going to be good for everyone. There were a minority of folks moaning about how wood ash should not be used in your chicken coops. Here’s my take. Our chickens love it and we’ve offered our hens wood ash for years with zero ill effects. To each their own so if some prefer to use other concoctions – natural or not – to treat the mites on their hens that’s certainly their prerogative. As for us and our homestead – wood ash to the rescue!
Of course if you’re worried at all about using wood ash do your own research, but it’s worked well for us. we have happy hens using something that was previously just a waste product. And that makes my crunchy heart happy.
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