Originally Posted by gsim
Originally Posted by Davaroo
I've covered mine in Coroplast or vinyl flooring scraps in the past. In the old days, they painted them with gloss oil paint. This makes the clean off easier.
They must also be EASILY removable; you should be able to take them out with ease. You shouldn't have to move other things for access, nor should they be fiddly to take out.
A novel idea from Delbert Hartmann is to hang a barrel cut in half below the roost. Fill the barrel partially with water, place a screen over it to keep the chickens out and the droppings fall in the water - no mess, no fuss. Add a large ball valve to the barrel for drainage and you have Magic Manure Tea for use in the garden. This method also keeps more of the poo's precious nitrogen in the water, as opposed to being dissipated into the air.
Also raises the humidity level in the coop, and that is especially bad in wintertime as it promotes frostbite. Not to mention that it might stink to high heaven.
One has to remember several things here. First, there must be adequate ventilation even in the dead of winter. If you experience elevated humidity issues in winter, or think you might, it can probably be attribuited to a coop that is shut up too tightly. This leads to more than frostbite, which is a tenuous worry. It leads to several respiratory induced ailments, most of which can cause reduced vigor but can also kill your birds outright.
Secondly, no manure collection scheme is free of maintenance. Whether you use dropping boards, pits or water baths, you have to do your due diligence to maintain them. It is my experienc, and that of Mr. Hartmann, that the water barrels DON'T stink. They dont attract fly's either, nor do they release toxic ammonia compounds into a too tight coop for the birds to breahe. The actually require less maintenance than the dropping boards under discussion.
This usually includes drainign them, flushing them with a light rinse and refilling.
A drawback is that you bring water into tht ecoop to do all this. I'd be more worried about spilled water than I would the barrels themselves. Its pertinent to know that these barrels were designed for chicken tractrors and other open bottom housing.