Chickens kicking all the straw out of their coop immediately

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Queenie89, Feb 8, 2016.

  1. Queenie89

    Queenie89 Out Of The Brooder

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    Has anybody managed to deal with this?

    Every time we clean out the coop and put new straw into it our four naughty red sex link hens will stop whatever they are doing and rush joyfully over to the new bedding and kick it all out of the coop, leaving not much more than a bare floor. There's a lip on their pop hole but that doesn't seem to stop them, and I can't increase the size of the lip much as it's not a big door.

    Not allowing them access to the coop until bed time doesn't seem to have much effect - as soon as they are allowed access they start kicking it out. They will ignore all distractions in the way of treats - even their favorite mealworms. I could swear they're even working as a team now, with two inside the coop scratching the straw towards the door, one in the doorway, kicking it out and one just outside, spreading the straw around. It creates a horrible mess in their pen too!

    Do you reckon I should just stop worrying about it - it makes it more difficult to clean and obviously I'd prefer something absorbent in the coop for the sake of mopping up all the damp they're traipsing in from outside.

    The only other thing I can think is whether they'd behave if I changed their bedding to something else.

    Suggestions much appreciated!
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC!

    Hmmm...well, chickens do like to scratch.

    Wonders why you think straw in the pen makes a 'mess'?

    I regularly throw some straw in the pen/run to counter the muck and wet, it breaks down nicely and ....
    ....they like to scratch in it, they move it around and mix it up with the muck, I see it as a good thing.
    I often throw it right around the ramp/pop door to mitigate them traipsing outside wet and muck into the coop.

    I use dried pine shavings in the coop(4-6" deep) as it dries up the poops on the floor, but I have roost boards with sand/PDZ to manage the night poop. They do kick the coop bedding around quite a bit, but I have 8" barriers all around to keep it in the coop.

    Maybe some pics of your coop and more info on your management strategies would help folks give some suggestions.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    How old are these little "interior decorators"? Could they be nearing point of lay, methinks?

    If they're around the six-month old age, give or take, then this is the normal precursor to laying their first eggs. It's a normal stage in their development, a phase which will soon pass.

    I'm a bit of a neat-nik myself and I can get a bit irritated over mess so I can relate. But chickens are going to do what chickens do, and they do love to scratch and hunt for stuff in the litter, wherever they find it.

    One thing you might try, at least to get through this phase, is to find a see-through plastic car mat at the store, cut it to fit the pop hole inside molding, staple or nail it at the top to the frame and slit it down the middle to create flaps. That should keep most of the straw inside.

    I do this with all the pop holes to keep the cold drafts out and bedding in. The chickens quickly learn to go through the flaps, even small chicks have no problem learning them.

    I just thought of one more thing you can try. Chickens need a diversion to mitigate annoying behavior, so you might pick up a scratch block at the feed store. These twelve by twelve solid blocks of seeds keep my chicks amused all day long, satisfying the urge to scratch and peck at something. They're not expensive and last for months.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  4. Queenie89

    Queenie89 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi, thanks for a response. The straw doesn't seem to break down - just mixes with the mud and poop to create a large smelly mound unless I clear it out constantly. I certainly don't mind them kicking some out, but regardless of how much I put in there none of it stays in the coop, which I view as more of a problem because of the poo/dryness/warmth issue.

    I'm at work at the moment so can't give real time pictures but this is essentially what we have as a coop. The front half is enclosed in a pen leaving access to the back door. There's a 6cm high piece of wood inside the coop running across the front of the door because otherwise things get in the door making it more difficult to shut.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Queenie89

    Queenie89 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi azygous - they are all laying already and have been for about a month to 6 weeks. I'm not 100% sure how old they are though. The car mat sounds like a great idea though thanks!
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Will wait for real time photos of coop, pen and birds.
    How big is that coop(cm x cm) and how many birds in it?

    Yeah, too much straw and water don't make a good mix.
    You might need to do some drainage work in your pen so most the water drains away?
    Other materials like wood chips, twigs, dry leaves and/or grass clippings would help too.
     
  7. Queenie89

    Queenie89 Out Of The Brooder

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    The coop is 141 (w) x 100 (h) x 100 (d) cm (floor space 91 (w) x 80 (d) cm excluding nest boxes) and is supposedly for up to 8 large fowl, but we just have the 4 of them. We actually move the coop and pen around to give them access to fresh grass wherever possible and our soil is mainly clay-based.
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    I think if you had a higher lip, your problem would be solved. I like a lip no less than 6" high for that reason. You might also give them plenty of straw to dig around in their run (if they've decimated the grass in their run). Does that coop have a window? The dimensions of that coop are barely big enough for 4 birds. Manufacturers grossly misrepresent their product in that concern. I'm glad you only have 4!
     

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