Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud – If you are old enough to remember Flanders & Swann, you will recognise the title of this blog. For those who don’t know who the hell we are talking about (and for those who do), here it is “Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud”.
The title says it all really, I’m used to rain, but a line has to be got to be drawn somewhere! That’s saying nothing about the wind. Relentless rain, accompanied by severe or storm force winds has been our daily lot for weeks now. I can just imagine the scene at opening up time. In their warm, comfortable coop, they will be just about seeing the break of dawn through their slit, and the (by now) familiar sound of a machine gun in the form of rain drops hitting the metal roof. ‘He can’t be serious, come out in that?’
The poor birds must have forgotten what the sun looks like, I know I have. Many of our coops are lit at bedtime, makes the roosting procedure a little less of a fumble, especially in the winter. To this end we have small LED’s powered by a large battery connected to a solar panel. In an average winter we would expect to charge the battery once in a while, but right now it’s become a weekly chore, so dim have been the days of November and December.
Another consequence of this bad weather is the state of the housing in general. If like me you take advantage of buying Donald’s (‘Donald the Hen’) coops, not only will you be purchasing a decent product, but in addition you will be saving money. Many of the coops on sale online are at least twice the price for a comparable size and that’s without the delivery cost. We have around 9 of Donald’s coops, one or two of which are 10 years old now and still up to the job! All housing needs weatherproofing and in our climate that’s at least every other year. However, if this recent weather becomes a regular feature that will change things. We’ve had trouble keeping our coops dry during the last few weeks, the force of the wind has been a major factor, driving the rain so hard against the wood that the water has just penetrated right through some panels. This also wastes bedding, as previously dry wood shavings at the bottom of each panel affected is damp and has to be replaced with dry shavings each time.
Not all our coops have ended up like this, but so exceptional has been the rain and wind combined that this has been the result in some cases. Not good for the birds and not good for the housing either. This particular coop (shown left) is one of our Brahma coops, only recently painted with creosote (not the stuff it once was admittedly). Recently we have started to cover some of our coops with plastic damp course, this works well and protects the wood from extreme weather. The damp course is UV stable, so shouldn’t be affected by the sun and become brittle. Some of our ‘covered’ coops are at least 5 years old and none of the plastic covering is showing signs of deterioration. So definitely worth considering if you’ve the time and money. Your birds would certainly thank you for it.
Coops purchased online vary enormously. Cocoon is a brand that consistently receives good reviews by poultry keepers. We can also vouch for Littleacre, their housing is good quality and well built, they make an excellent coop called the Weeford, we have 3 of these and they make excellent broody coops. This particular coop has the additional option of adding a nestbox to it, should you wish to house several bantams together. You will of course have to weather proof any you purchase, as none come ready treated.