Mud and merriment – A poultry adventure

Published 9:05 am Sunday, February 4, 2024

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Maintaining a backyard poultry flock and witnessing all the family dynamics of Chanticleer and his five hen-wives has been quite the poultry adventure. Each moment, from harvesting the first eggs to my granddaughter naming the first little pullet “Fred” has been fun.

But, when the rains descended on the Butler, Lowndes, and Crenshaw counties and my back yard, centered roughly at the spot where the areas converge, became a sodden, messy chicken mud-wrestling arena, the fun promptly ceased.

Reading a May 1893 advertisement in The Greenville Advocate and learning that chickens can and do have fleas was not nearly the revelation that stepping into the poultry yard and sinking ankle deep into the muck delivered after heavy rains on Tuesday. Chanticleer, Perty, Madge, Amber, Cinnamon, Sassy and little Fred cackled their displeasure loud and clear, refusing to scratch for corn or lay eggs as the onslaught continued and their hay-strewn yard disappeared into the muck in the days that followed.

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As any novice poultry farmer would, I asked advice on solutions at the Luverne Farmers Coop, where the staff sold me bails of hay to keep the flock’s little chicken toes out of the mud. Tana Shealey, Lowndes County’s Extension officer coordinator, invited me to a backyard poultry disease prevention class held on Jan. 25 and I wanted, rather needed to attend. 

Instead, I was out back in the dark of night after work, in my newly acquired rubber boots, strewing more hay into the mud while I prayed for the rain to cease.

The situation seems comical now since the rain has paused and cold temperatures have moved in. It was all quite a bit of merriment for my neighbors who witnessed the slip-and-slide show. 

I am currently researching data on the most effective chicken yard drainage, and polling vendors in the Butler, Lowndes, Crenshaw County area to see which ones have the best price and assortment of chicken coop bedding to absorb the mud.

Chanticleer, the hens and I invited local experts to send their suggestions for avoiding a repeat performance when the rain resumes. We can use all the help we can get. 

Please submit suggestions and tips to The hens are offering a dozen mud-free eggs to the person offering the best solution to their dilemma.