Me again! When I got my hens I listened to lots of people in 'the know' and read lots of articles and books and set up my hen coop and run with all this wisdom ringing in my ears presuming I was doing the best I could for them. They cannot free range due to way too many predators in vicinity - mostly other people's free range dogs which is supposed to be banned in Ireland but that's another days story. I have 6 hybrid hens.
I put shavings in the boxes and a light scattering under the perches to collect droppings. The coop is cleared of dropping every morning as I don't like dirty eggs. An easy job with the shavings but I am aware it can be dusty- not good for the hens.
The run was grass and is now mostly mud and sand. I clip fresh grass for them daily and the whole run gets raked every evening. When the rain stops(?) I give it a soak with Jeyes fluid solution - about once a week. I was giving the girls a bundle of straw to scratch through every morning too to relieve boredom but have stopped this since one hen has become crop bound.
When we had a bird of prey a few years ago the best advice was to keep her on fine gravel inside and out. She had her perch and tether, plenty of food and exercise and never had a day of sickness.
I have my hens a few months and now am treating one for an impacted crop probably due to eating shavings or straw. Not good in my book as it ought to be preventable.
I would rather have well fed healthy animals/birds kept correctly than always trying to repair faults that should not have happened in the first place. Would it not be safer or even healthier to keep the hens on a mix of fine gravel/sand throughout like the Kestrel was? Is there a safer bedding for the nest boxes other than shavings/straw?
What do the rest of you do? :confused: