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Cleaning the coop - few questions

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Guys, I am new to chickens. I inherited 9 hens with a coop to fit them in freely. Hens are out of the coop into the fenced posture as soon as the sun is up and back in the coop when sun is down, so they only sleep in the coop. Floor is covered with the pine shavings. 

How often do I need to clean it? Do I "shovel" - dump all the shavings at once and spread all new shavings? Or do you rake the shavings  - top of it and leave most of it in and add new shavings on top? If you do that, do you get the strong rotting smell?

What tools most people use to rake these shavings, after all, its not a full barn where one can use full sized shovels or rakes, etc? 

 

Last, but not least, in order to compost those pooped dirty shavings, do you just dig a hole next to the coop and dump it all there? How often do you turnover it and how long until you can use it as a compost for your garden?

 

Thank you.

post #2 of 9

I don't know about the compost, but i shovel under the the roost every week or so because that's where they poop the most. Then i clean out the coop every two or three weeks depending on the amount of poop.I always take all the shavings and hay out and replace them. When i clean the coop i shovel it with a short and flat shovel. Throw  the shavings out and the hay in the nesting boxes into a wheel barrel and bring it away somewhere. I use a hoe short hoe too clean out the nesting boxes.

post #3 of 9

Depending on the size of your yard you may want to look into one of the plastic or resin compost barrels. Once it starts....composting, it can get a bit smelly so I probably wouldn't put it right next to the coop/run since chickens can have sensitive respiratory systems it is one less thing to worry about,

 

To add to that and get the most for your money depending on the size of your shavings ( I use the smaller ones) you can make a sifter out of 1/4'' or so hardware cloth. I cut out the bottom of a small plastic trash can and affixed the hardware cloth to the bottom. Scoop the shavings in there and shake back and forth. The small shavings fall through the cloth and the poo is left in can and I go dump it. I get a LOT of life out of my shavings this way. Its basically a giant colander .

post #4 of 9
I have no idea what your coop looks like, how you manage it, or anything else. I can’t tell you what to do. I’ll probably be a bad influence on you but I’ll try to tell you how I manage mine.

I have an 8’ x 12’ walk-in coop with a droppings board under the roosts. The floor of the coop is the ground and I use pine shavings. I may occasionally have as few as 7 chickens, but at times have over 40, mostly young ones growing to butcher size.

I scrape the droppings board anywhere from once a week to maybe once every three weeks, depending on chicken density and how wet or dry the weather is. It the atmosphere is wet I have to do it more often. My goal is to avoid any poopy smell. That happens when poop gets wet. As long as the poop is dry it should not smell, at least not much and not bad. A sweet smell is OK by me. If the poop gets to a certain thickness under the droppings board (or in your coop) it won’t dry out. Wet weather makes that worse. Wet poop stinks pretty badly. The pure poop I scrape off goes onto my compost pile.

My chickens spend practically all day outside so they are not pooping much in the coop during the day. At night practically all of it goes on the droppings board. My coop floor stays dry. That means I don’t have to clean out my wood shavings. I’ve gone four years in between mucking out the wood shavings and putting new ones in, though I do occasionally open a new bag of wood shavings and let them spread it. I do clean it out every three to four years in the fall and put those shavings straight on my garden. By planting time in the spring it has broken down. I don’t have to take it out but I do want that stuff on my garden. A lot of people do that every fall whether they need to or not.

The purpose of your bedding should be to absorb moisture from the poop and keep things dry. Stirring that bedding up will help keep it dry. I don’t do it but some people scatter scratch on the bedding and let the chickens stir it for them. To me the best tool to rake up the bedding might be a bag or corn.

I keep two separate compost piles, one working and one collecting. You can make composting as simple or as complex, as easy or as hard, as you wish. You can carefully try to balance the browns and the greens or you can not worry about it too much. You can turn it every time the temperature drops off or never turn it. It will still rot. It really does help to keep the moisture about right. You don’t want it soaking wet as that leads to anaerobic action. That means it’s too wet for oxygen to get in there to support the really good bugs so you get bugs that turn it stinky and slimy. Not good.

I normally turn mine only once maybe two months into the process and wait another three months or so to harvest it. I screen it through a ½” hardware cloth screen I made. Anything that goes through is compost, anything that doesn’t goes into the next batch. I put chicken poop, kitchen wastes, garden wastes, and grass clippings in the compost, but not the pine shavings. Those go straight on the garden.

I do a lot of things wrong. I don’t over-stress on the browns-greens ratio and don’t turn the compost much. I hardly ever clean out my coop. Told you I’d be a bad influence. But I make a lot of compost.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by SFBayArea View Post

Guys, I am new to chickens. I inherited 9 hens with a coop to fit them in freely. Hens are out of the coop into the fenced posture as soon as the sun is up and back in the coop when sun is down, so they only sleep in the coop. Floor is covered with the pine shavings. 
How often do I need to clean it? Do I "shovel" - dump all the shavings at once and spread all new shavings? Or do you rake the shavings  - top of it and leave most of it in and add new shavings on top? If you do that, do you get the strong rotting smell?
What tools most people use to rake these shavings, after all, its not a full barn where one can use full sized shovels or rakes, etc? 

Last, but not least, in order to compost those pooped dirty shavings, do you just dig a hole next to the coop and dump it all there? How often do you turnover it and how long until you can use it as a compost for your garden?

Thank you.

We completely clean out our coop twice a year (spring & fall). It's nice to have everything clean for the spring and then again when winterizing. Some of the pine shavings get mixed into the run, the rest go to the compost pile (later to the garden). There is no "rotting smell" in the coop, the coop is too dry for any rotting to take place. There is a poopboard filled with PDZ under the roost which catches most of the droppings, there really isn't that much on the floor since the chickens are out in the run most of the time anyway.

I live on acreage so disposing of used bedding isn't a problem, I'm not sure what people that live in the suburbs do with it.
2 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Black Sex Links,. 1 Golden Retriever, 1 "old man" cat and 2 Betta.
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2 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Black Sex Links,. 1 Golden Retriever, 1 "old man" cat and 2 Betta.
Reply
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thank you guys. 

 

By pooping board do you mean you put some sort of plywood board on top of the pine shavings under the roosting places?

post #7 of 9
I have reach-in size coop, so I just let the poop drop, not worrying about stepping on poop. The birds scratch and turn the bedding and mix everything together.

No need to try too hard to keep things clean. You will find the coop to be dusty regardless. When I see the bedding is satuated with poop, I change, no time table necessary.
post #8 of 9
By droppings board I’m talking about something to catch the poop from the roost. Chickens poop a lot all the time, but since they are not moving around at night it accumulates.

My droppings board is the top of my built-in brooder, you can see it below. It’s just a sheet of plywood I scrape the poop off of. Some people build trays and put various things in the tray to help keep the droppings dry like PDZ, wood shavings, or sand. Some people put bins under the roosts to catch the poop I have a couple of bins at the end that you cannot see. As with anything else there are many different ways to do this. The net result is that it gets a lot of poop out of your coop so the bedding can last longer.


Edited by Ridgerunner - 4/5/16 at 12:31pm

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone for great comments. 

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