Originally Posted by Trish44
I clean out my coops every 6 months, by then they really are smelling & needing cleaned out. I do it in the fall because I don't want to go into winter with dirty litter to start since the birds often have to stay in more due to snow or whatever. I also have way more birds than you, so it's necessary. I just keep adding more shavings or dry leaves & whatnot to add to the pile. If the chickens don't dig through it you also need to turn it over once in awhile.
I modify the DLM too. I pick up poo from under the roosts and on the ramps each morning and turn the shavings as needed. A fair percentage of the manure is collected that way. The disadvantage is that the shavings in the coop when I clean it out are not as "rich" in nutrients for a garden and have to compost longer to break down the wood chips. The advantage is that it doesn't get awful in there as quickly.
I think I'll try cleaning in the spring and see what it is like by September or October and then decide next year. The fall molt has created a feathery mess in there, but I think I could almost rake out the worst of the feathers if the litter wasn't too nasty in the fall.
Having too many birds in there for a couple of months really made a difference. I have to keep the numbers down.
I'd like to move the broodies and their little ones into the coop after it gets cleaned. I can rearrange it a bit to shake things up for everyone, so the little ones won't be the only focus of attention. Eventually they will be going to the new coop, so maybe I should move them there, but their moms haven't been in the new coop at all so it would be a trauma for them, too. It would be easier if their moms abandoned them -- then I could just put them in the new coop in the dark, turn off the timer on the light and check in on them in the morning. (I'm drifting, but sometimes just writing things down makes them clearer.)