Bedding - to change or not to change?

ChickyNicky05

Songster
Mar 30, 2018
100
112
111
Massachusetts
As a new chick owner I have been doing as much research as possible! I started out changing the bedding every day when they were first brought to the house and now at 4-5 weeks they absolutely hate being picked up and put in something else while I clean the brooder box so I've had to decrease to every other day, sometimes once every 3 days. My partner says changing less frequently is okay but I feel like he may be wrong and that this is not healthy for the birds..? I was reading a book this past weekend that said when they move to their permanent coop the bedding only needs cleaning once a week and that there will be a "permanent layer" that gets cleaned out twice a year? Is that accurate? We want to make sure our chickens stay healthy, so any opinions are appreciated!!
 

Spartan22

Crowing
Sep 2, 2014
3,672
3,521
452
NE Ohio
In the brooder, I’ve found it easy to top the beddings every 2 days depends on how big the brooder or how dry it is. Preventing the chicks from walking & sleeping on the wet poo is the purpose to prevent smell and diseases. I like using the pine shavings since it’s loose and aerate dry the droppings in comparison to other media that gets compacted. Cleaning once a week by replacing the entire beddings worked for me for 4-6 wks until I transfer them to the big coop with the rest of the flock.

Now in the coop is another story, I don’t top and clean as often since the coop has 4 windows and 2 louver vents 10’ up, meaning well ventilated everything dries up quick. I only clean every 3-6 months, top the beddings once a month though I have poop boards that I scoop every morning that takes 5-10 minutes to keep the eggs free of poop from their feet. Our chickens spend most of their day out in the run that I clean once or twice a year.

It fascinate me when people talk how dirty messy chickens are and how it takes time to take care of them. I have 30+ chickens and doesn’t require more than 15 min. In the morning before I go to work they’re freshly watered and fed. After work I pick up eggs and make sure every ones ok (10 min tops of my time before dinner).

During weekends we spend more time watching and interacting with the chickens for couple hours in the run or in our backyard to free range a bit.
 

dunnmom

Crowing
Mar 30, 2016
1,557
2,404
302
Oklahoma
The main thing to consider when it comes to cleaning any chicken housing is parasites, dampness, and ammonia. If it smells bad or is wet, change it out. If mites are present, treat the chicks, remove the bedding, and dust for mites. Also, if any chicks are ill, remove the sick chicks and change the bedding.
 

dunnmom

Crowing
Mar 30, 2016
1,557
2,404
302
Oklahoma
Also, some folks do not do the deep litter method for whatever reason. I personally do not. I clean and replace bedding monthly.
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
27,066
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
At 4 - 5 weeks of age, they should be completing the acclimation process and moving out to the coop/run full time. I assume you have them in your house? Hopefully, you've weaned them off heat by 3 weeks of age. Assuming that the brooder is big enough (2 s.f./bird) you don't need to change the litter. Just add more. Many studies show that chicks reared on a deep litter system and even successive broods of chicks being raised on the litter left behind by previous group have improved viability, less disease, and better feed conversion rates. The same goes for a deep litter management system in the coop and run. BTW, deep litter, in this context is a deep COMPOSTING litter, not just deep shavings.
 

GardenJen77

Songster
Mar 23, 2017
139
137
157
Central Michigan, USA
In the brooder, I’ve found it easy to top the beddings every 2 days depends on how big the brooder or how dry it is. Preventing the chicks from walking & sleeping on the wet poo is the purpose to prevent smell and diseases. I like using the pine shavings since it’s loose and aerate dry the droppings in comparison to other media that gets compacted. Cleaning once a week by replacing the entire beddings worked for me for 4-6 wks until I transfer them to the big coop with the rest of the flock.

Now in the coop is another story, I don’t top and clean as often since the coop has 4 windows and 2 louver vents 10’ up, meaning well ventilated everything dries up quick. I only clean every 3-6 months, top the beddings once a month though I have poop boards that I scoop every morning that takes 5-10 minutes to keep the eggs free of poop from their feet. Our chickens spend most of their day out in the run that I clean once or twice a year.

It fascinate me when people talk how dirty messy chickens are and how it takes time to take care of them. I have 30+ chickens and doesn’t require more than 15 min. In the morning before I go to work they’re freshly watered and fed. After work I pick up eggs and make sure every ones ok (10 min tops of my time before dinner).

During weekends we spend more time watching and interacting with the chickens for couple hours in the run or in our backyard to free range a bit.


Agreed! With the dampness of winter, I have had to clean out my coop at least once a month, especially since my chickens don't come out of the coop at all if there is snow on the ground. :lau So yes, in the winter, that coop gets pretty disgusting, pretty quick, but as noted, it isn't that difficult to clean it out. The brooder box I top off with a fresh layer of shavings UNLESS it is wet, then I change it out.

I had my ducklings and chicks together for a week, and they were doing great. Problem is, ducks LOVE playing in the water and they would soak the bedding, which isn't good for the chicks. So today they were separated. But other than that "hiccup" the bedding issue really isn't one.

I think the best advice would be this, would YOU feel comfortable in a dirty, wet, smelly diaper? Probably not, so if the bedding is really soiled and wet, change it. If not, just top it off with fresh bedding.
 

FlyingNunFarm

Enabler
6 Years
May 28, 2015
6,030
34,406
1,067
Chesterland, OH
My Coop
My Coop
When I had my chicks in the house I used a baby corral with a tarp in the bottom as a brooder. The easiest for me with 7 chicks was to put on a disposable glove and pick through the shavings. They stayed in the brooder as I moved the shaving around and picked out poop and wet shavings. Then added a little more fresh. I think I only changed it completely when they dumped over their water.
Out in the coop I don't have the set up to do a poop board. (On the list for coop revision) I get snow here and plenty of it. So in winter I slowly added bales of shavings as it got colder till I used 5 maybe 6. On a warmer day (that didn't last) I cleaned it all out. I tried to pick up large sections of poop under where they roost but they scratch around and bury it. I would sprinkle sweet PDZ down and they would turn it in to the shavings. It's slightly warmer now but a muddy mess out in the run. I've been putting 1 bale or so down and once a month shoveling it out into the run. Not so much as the coop is dirty, but the run is a mud hole. Once it's dry enough outside I won't empty the coop as I do now. More pick what I can and replace shavings when needed.
 

ChickyNicky05

Songster
Mar 30, 2018
100
112
111
Massachusetts
At 4 - 5 weeks of age, they should be completing the acclimation process and moving out to the coop/run full time. I assume you have them in your house? Hopefully, you've weaned them off heat by 3 weeks of age. Assuming that the brooder is big enough (2 s.f./bird) you don't need to change the litter. Just add more. Many studies show that chicks reared on a deep litter system and even successive broods of chicks being raised on the litter left behind by previous group have improved viability, less disease, and better feed conversion rates. The same goes for a deep litter management system in the coop and run. BTW, deep litter, in this context is a deep COMPOSTING litter, not just deep shavings.
We will be moving htem out to the coop in a week or so, it is still getting very cold here in MA at night (down into the 20's). They no longer use the heat lamp though. I have considered bringing the heat lamp out to the coop for nights so that I can move them out sooner, I may try this weekend. Hoping to have them out as soon as possible though.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom