confused about the cleaning of the coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by MuskokaChick, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. MuskokaChick

    MuskokaChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 20, 2011
    Muskoka Region Ontario
    I have a 10X6 coop with 11 hens. I have only had them two weeks and the first week I kept them in the coop to get to know their home, after week I let them out into the run and they are so happy out there and I find it funny every morning I open the coop door and they march out twoxtwo, like they were lined up waiting.

    I am using pine shavings on the floor and in the nests.

    I have a scoop type rake and I go in the coop and fluff up the pine shavings, hoping the poop will drop to the bottom. I don't want to be replacing the pine shavings every week or 2 weeks, but I do want it super clean in the coop and also want to be realistic. I don't know if I should replace the whole coop shavings now that they are outdoors and mainly poop out there, or if I am being silly and should just leave it for major cleanings (I am thinking twice/year) I was told by the local feed store just to scoop up the wet poopy clumps, but as I go through fluffing up the stuff, there are no wet clumps, and the poops are dry and I don't think it really smells in there at all.

    This morning I just threw down a bit of fresh shavings over it all...

    Really not sure what I should be doing...and what is a poop board?

  2. dichotomymom

    dichotomymom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 19, 2008
    Dayton Indiana
    THere's no one right way to do it but if you're in an area endemic to histoplasmosis, you might want to consider cleaning more often (we are in IN). I leave the shavings down for a couple of months and "fluff" it and then do a whole scoop out after that point and throw it into the run or the compost. I only spray the coop down in warm/warmish months and don't do bleach unless I've got a problem.
  3. georgiagail

    georgiagail Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'd be "guessing" if it doesn't smell, things are fine. I'm reading more and more postings about folks using sand in the coops as well as the runs, both to dry out the droppings and to reduce the odor.

    A "poop board" is a board that runs underneath the roosts where hens tend to sleep at night. Like most birds in the wild, they tend to seek heights when darkness falls as a safety factor against predators. This doesn't stop them from "pooping" and a "poop board" is a board (often removable) that catches the droppings done during the night. If removable it can be cleaned out the coop.

    Here is a picture of what we did in our coop, showing the ladder, the roost and the removable poop board:

  4. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    You didn't mention what kind of floor you have.

    My setup is fairly similar to yours, a little larger coop and a few more chickens, with a dirt floor. The shavings and such get removed when I want them for compost, once or twice a year. If it gets a little musty or smelly in there, I sprinkle pelletized lime or Sweet Pdz or some more shavings around. I also sprinkle some sort of poultry dust around, maybe monthly, to kill any little critters (mites/lice.) Occasionally I stir up the shavings, but the chickens mostly do that for me. I probably buy 6 bags of pine shavings a year. About once a year they get a dose of Eprinex as it kills most worms plus lice/mites. (Valbazen is the wormer that gets all worms.) I also occasionally spray roosts and nest boxes and anything wood with a spray for this -- the one I have now is labeled a dog flea/tick spray and is pyrethrin/permethrin. Over time, the poop dehydrates, turns to dust and merges with the dirt in the floor, or clumps onto the pine and gets composted.

    Probably a lot of people would not agree with how I manage my coop, but I have done it the same way through several flocks over the years. This doesn't make it good or right -- but it works for me and I'm not likely to change now. The chickens are content, they never pull feathers or anything, they have no diseases and don't get sores on their feet, and I've never seen mites or lice.

    There is no right way. There might be as many ways of keeping a coop decent as there are people on here. Definitely, some people clean the whole thing out and sanitize it weekly or every two weeks.

    Actually, chickens put out the majority of the day's poop at night on the roost. A poop board is some sort of tray or board that catches most of this, and is removed and dumped daily or at least a couple of times a week, as a rule.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Try rereading that sentence again as if someone else had written it, and think about it... [​IMG]

    You want your cake and eat it too. Doesn't work that way. If you want "super clean" (by which I am guessing you mean "not much visible poo") you are GOING to have to clean it out quite frequently and with shavings the only way to do that, unless you have waaaay too much time on your hands, is to do frequent wholesale replacements of all your shavings.

    A droppings board would help. It is about what it sounds like, a wide flat board mounted under the roost to catch all poo produced from birds while they're on the roost. If well built it can catch maybe almost half of their daily poo output, and you can scrape it off daily (a very fast process actually, for a 6' droppings board it takes me 10 seconds maximum) and remove that poo in a bucket, so the bedding doesn't get as pooey.

    And/or, you can contemplate relaxing your ideas of "super clean". Not in a way that compromises chicken health, just in a more realistic way.

    Basically you should do what you're comfortable with (as long as it avoids massive squalor but clearly there isn't much danger of that in your case [​IMG]) Try experimenting -- clean it more often, clean it less often, do more spot-cleaning, do less spot-cleaning, use more bedding or less bedding, etcetera. You will quickly start to learn what works for you and what doesn't, and soon arrive at a management regime that works well for your particular coop and your personal tastes. Which is much more relevant than what OTHER people do, anyhow [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun, (waving hi to Muskoka, I'm just N of Uxbridge)

  6. 2txmedics

    2txmedics Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2009
    Manvel Texas
    I dont use any drop boards I have my coop with a regular wood floor and then I filled it with the deep litter method using shavings, mine is about at this moment 7" deep....every day I go in and sift it around and take out the clumps, I do have food grade DE in there heavy....every 2-3months I add more shavings and sift it around....I change out my deep litter once a year. I have no bugs, no flies, and no stink...I have a 6x10 coop with 32 in the flock in there.
    When I do change it out I keep about 2 buckets worth of the old litter, I read somewhere along time ago, that its best to keep the PH BALANCE of the coop, put fresh shavings and fresh has worked great for me!!!
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    As long as it doesn't smell, the chickens will be happy and should be healthy.

    If walking in a coop that has poop in it bothers you, I should mention that most people have "coop shoes/boots" or "yard shoes/boots." I keep a pair by the door. I also have a boot scraper/brush combo outside my door, to clean them. I picked it up at the farm store. It works great for mud, too. You can also add exterior nest boxes or service doors that allow you to reach into the coop, without walking into the coop, to collect eggs.

    If you just like the look of really clean shavings, you could add poop boards to keep the shavings cleaner and just clean as often as you want to. Some people are a bit phobic about poop and need to clean a lot. Other people just like it really, really clean. A coop needs to be a place you're comfortable in, so you should manage it in a way that makes you comfortable. Over time, how you feel can change, too.

    If you're just worried about the chickens and what you should be doing for them, your nose is a good indicator of when you should either clean it out or top-dress it with more clean shavings. It's okay to see poop mixed into the shavings. It's not okay to smell ammonia.
  8. MuskokaChick

    MuskokaChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 20, 2011
    Muskoka Region Ontario
    Thank you everyone!

    I think I like the poop board idea, will get my handy hunny to make me one [​IMG]

    [email protected]? I can't have my cake and eat it too???? *sigh*

    Yes, that makes sense...just try things out until I find out what works for us. I think I will get the poop board installed, then do a whole replacement of the pine shavings, and go from there.

    Wood floor

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