Cleaning pine bedding

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Lisa Wood, Jun 18, 2016.

  1. Lisa Wood

    Lisa Wood Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 6, 2016
    AIKEN, South Carolina
    Hi, I am first time chicken owner with about 5 week old assorted breed pullets in new coop using pine shavings.I keep hearing everyone addressing moisture and ammonia in the coop? I am confused because I am pretty sure from cleaning after horses that ammonia is a result of old urine, and to my knowledge chickens do not urinate, only poop? We have had them moved into coop about 11 days, and at first were warned and worried about the smell.i smell nothing. I use a cat poop scoop and pick up twice a day, turn the shavings over while they are outside. I put about 8 inches of shavings when they moved in. No smell. No moisture. Am I doing things right?
    1 person likes this.
  2. I Love Layers

    I Love Layers Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 25, 2015
    North Dakota
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2016
  3. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    Apr 1, 2014
    Longville, La
    From all I've read chickens expell bodies fluid waste (urinate) through pooing. That's why it is so runny sometimes. Pine shavings seem to work best at absorbing the ammonia and cutting down on the smell. I have used pine shavings at times and hay at times, the shavings work better. They are easier to stir up or turn over. If you are using the deep litter method, they work even better.
    So you are doing exactly what you should. I would have started off with maybe 3 or 4" then built up to 8" but your way is fine. Cleaning it daily and keeping it rotated like you do should keep all the smell out. Proper ventilation will take care of any moisture concern.
  4. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 18, 2016
    Chickens do urinate, but it is combined with the other before it leaves the chicken, so what you see as the droppings is a combination of both. Also, what you are experiencing now is only a hint of what is to come in the future.

    I was recently reminded when reviewing a BYC member's site, what we are calling deep litter might best be thought of as built up litter. Not exactly a compost pile, as it does not get hot enough to compost, and not a put and take.....keep it clean litter system, but more like a bed of litter that is a combination of litter material and chicken droppings. It should also be thought of as a living organic's own little biosphere. Studies were done a long time ago that concluded it was a really healthy situation for the birds.

    Goal is to keep it turned and mixed like a compost pile so no crusty cap. You can do that or let the chickens help by tossing out a small handful of scratch grains (raw oats work well) now and then and let them turn and scratch it.
  5. Lisa Wood

    Lisa Wood Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 6, 2016
    AIKEN, South Carolina

    Thanks so much! I am glad, after reading these articles I chose shavings. They are cheap, I am used to working with them around horses, and I read that mites and lice prefer straw. I hate straw. Its like cleaning a plate of spaghetti.

    Thank you to everyone for cooling my nerves. I am sure when they start pooping mega chicken size poops outdoors, there will be a smell Aye? Do you guys clean also the runs? I cant just let a sea of chicken poop live in my yard? Any ideas to help with this? I am thinking rake and shovel.
  6. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    I also have shavings in my run, way better than a layer of poo by itself. Mary
  7. Rural Broody

    Rural Broody Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 13, 2016
    Southern Ontario, Canada

    this is very reassuring. Thank you.
  8. Lisa Wood

    Lisa Wood Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 6, 2016
    AIKEN, South Carolina
    Rural Broody, I am so glad when I get someone with expert knowledge. So, you are saying that as long as droppings are dry, there should be no odor? Is that correct? And you are saying as long as dry droppings mixed in, and no crusty shell on top, with poop is healthier for chicks than just bedding?
    Imma gonna just ask you another question while I am on a roll.
    I need some way to tidy up and give fresh odor to their outdoor run area, which is way small, because we are opening their 10 x 70 run in phases. We are reinforcing fencing as we go to make escape proof, we have a second 10 x 20 canopy to install, and I am trying to install 50 x 50 poultry netting asap cause they are leaving chicken ranch flying into my dog yard. Husband us out of state working. So small run area has become nasty. I would like to rake and shovel poop out, but it seems to camouflage as soil once they and I tread thru it. What do I do? What can I use to deoderize that is safe? Is the damp poop mess putting them more at risk for lice, mites, stick tight fleas?
    Last question: I am trying now to teach them to go to coop when I ask them.I heard we also have to train them to roost? Is that true?
    I didnt know I had to be a chicken trainer.
  9. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    western PA
    My Coop
    Hi Lisa!
    Yes, you are doing just right with your birds! Congrats!
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2016
  10. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 18, 2016

    What size is the coop and how many birds are you keeping?

    It seems you have a covered run? If so, best solution to the messy conditions it to keep adding bedding and litter to it, even in the run. Pine chips, pine straw, tree leaves, etc. In some cases, the use of hydrated lime (some may go apoplectic about this one), but small amounts of 5 to 10 pounds per 100 square feet. That is not as much as it sounds, and also, you spread it evenly and mix it in. Straight, it may be mildly caustic to the bird's feet, but you do not leave it for them straight. Spread evenly over the top of the built up litter and then raked or mixed in. It keeps the odor down and keeps the litter from caking up and getting crusty.

    It may sound counterintuitive, but some with long term experience have suggested the deeper you go with this litter, the better. A foot deep may not be as bad as you might suspect. It will be dryer and smell better than only a few inches. If it is covered, so does not get drenched with every rain, a run with roof, but open sides, with deep litter may be the best long term solution.

    Having said that, this process does not go on forever. Eventually, you have to clean it out. Commercial poultry houses have a "hot" litter problem, more manure than litter, and are required by regulations in most places to have many, many acres lined up to spread it all out. You will also need a place to go with it eventually. Composted and put on a large garden (large being relative), but large enough to handle all the litter. Or else start lining up friends who have gardens. They many want it too once they see it's benefits. But beware, you can have too much of a good thing.

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