Advice on Cleaning/Keeping them Happy?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by NewAussieChook, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. NewAussieChook

    NewAussieChook Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 24, 2014
    Hi all,

    Ive been reading through alot of the cleaning threads and finding them helpful - thank you. We're new to chooks - had them since Jan this year. I only have a small number of chooks in a suburban backyard. We have 4 pullets at the moment - and Im quite happy with that number. We have an enclosed run (too many cats, foxes, etc around here) with a coop - a bird aviary we converted.

    The run is dirt, with a small amount of construction sand mixed in. I have some tree branches - they love sitting on and under these, a 'dust bucket' (for dust bathing - filled with construction sand and with a lid that keeps the water out when its raining) and their food and water in there. We have a few large rocks in there too. I can stand in the run.

    The coop is smallish, I cant stand in it (my 2 year old can - just!) but I can pop my head in there. We have 2 roosts and a nesting box in there. I use wood shavings in there and straw in the nesting box.

    Some questions:
    1. How often should I rake out the run?
    2. My chooks have been scratching around and scratch up small rocks in the dirt in the run? Should I leave these or rake them out?
    3. How often should I clean out the coop?
    4. My pullets wont be laying for a month or two more, we have a nesting box in there set up already. It's getting sat in and pooped in, which I know is not good. Do I take it out? How do I know when to put it in again? Or just chicken wire it off, so they can't access it?
    5. What do you put in your run to keep the chooks happy and busy? I throw in a cob of corn or two a couple of times a week - they go CRAZY over the corn! Love it!

    Thank you in advance for your advice and help! We love our chooks and Im very much wanting to learn the best ways to keep them happy and healthy.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I would definitely either remove the nest or chicken wire it off, whichever is convenient. I wouldn't open it again til I saw an egg.

    I wouldn't worry about the rocks in the run. I think everyone has a different cleaning schedule. Really, I would go by how messy and/or smelly it gets. Of course you especially don't want ammonia building up in the coop. You can pick up a bag of pelletized lime or Stall-Dri and sprinkle it in the coop or run when you feel like it needs cleaning but don't want to do it that day. It will take out much of the smell and moisture for a short period. It doesn't take much of the lime. I've been working on my 50 lb. bag for 2 or 3 years.
  3. NewAussieChook

    NewAussieChook Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 24, 2014
    Thank you Judy. Your advice is very helpful!
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Use your nose.... if it stinks, need to rake it out. A smaller coup needs to be cleaned a bit more regularly. But no need to get hysterically clean. I use a lot of old hay, pull the dirty hay from the coop into the run, and let them break it down and clean up the weed seed for my garden. Put clean hay in the coop and nests. Soon I will do a pretty steep clean up, putting most everything in the compost, and putting in fresh. I just give it a good sweep, I don't use clorox or scrub it all down.

    Mrs K
  5. Tacswa3

    Tacswa3 Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 16, 2013
    Your set up sounds similar to mine. I am new to chickens since this past December. Here is what I do and did: I blocked off my nesting boxes until they were closer to laying (kept roosting and pooping in them) I used cardboard. You should notice your pullets "squatting" as you approach when they get close to laying.

    If they are not laying, in my opinion they don't need access to the coop during the day weather permitting. When I let them out of the coop I closed it up until roost time. Less time in the coop is less poop in the coop :)

    Every couple days I scoop out the poop under the roost bars and every couple of weeks, sprinkle some food grade DE over the wood chips and rake in. I add chips when I think its needed.

    I just raked my run for the first time today LOL, but plan on raking it more often for poop removal. My birds run my yard as well so they are not always in the run.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by