coop maintenance--chickens are messy!


In the Brooder
5 Years
Sep 9, 2014
newbie to chickens I have just two--one with no top beak so she needs a deep dish for food and water. I am finding them really messy!! how do you keep these guys tidy! the pre-fab coop I bought is a very disappointing joke and I am now building them a good place in a shed for the winter-- about over a metre wide x 3 metres long, 3 metres high.
is deep bedding and a poop board the best way to go?--how do you stop the food and water from being spread all over and getting contaminated?
thanks for any suggestions... :)

It's a shame, so many people quickly learn that the coop they bought is too small.

For food and water, I just raise them. I have an inexpensive hanging plastic feeder, holds maybe a gallon, and a similar waterer tht sits on top of a concrete block. They can normally eat and drink comfortably from shoulder level. Your beak deprived one may not be abe to, though -- in her case I would try a large dish or tray of some sort under the feeder. I''ve never dealt with this, though.

You will find they are not as smelly in a larger coop. I always tell newbies to build as big as they can -- not just because so many want more chickens wheyn they've had them a while but because they love lots of space, are more content and have far less aggresion toward each other, and are much easier to care for. My coop is so large I don't even bother with a poop board; it is enough to rake the poop into the deep litter when messy, or let the chickens scratch it in. I used to have more chickens and was fortunate enough to have the materials for an oversize coop even for them. Now it easily holds a lawn chair along with all needed equipment, feed, etc., plus has a 5x5 chicken wire "room: for a broody, new chicks, etc. when needed. Poop boards are no doubt helpful for coops that require dail or almost daily cleaning, but not if the birds really have space.

Good luck!
Hi there! I have only two chickens as well that I got in April this year.

For the coop, I just use some wood shavings for the litter and dust with a little diatamaceous earth (it's the food grade kind) to keep any bugs at bay. Then a few times a week I take a kitty litter pooper scooper and scoop out all the poops and add more shavings. Once a month I take out the nasty looking shavings, scrape off poop that hardened on the floor and and put fresh litter in. It's not all that hard. I've heard of the deep litter method, but since I've only got the two, my current routine seems to be doing okay for the past few months and only smells when I forget to scoop it out for a few days (I usually do it every other day, but it happens once in a while). I have to agree, they are messy, but they're also really enjoyable to have. There is not too much smell if you clean it regularly. They still smell like chickens, though :) I also let mine out to rummage in the yard when I'm home, and usually have to hose down the patio because of droppings and such. If I had more birds, I might consider building a run to keep them off the cement porch. But with two, it's fairly easy to maintain.

For food and water, I bought a small 3 pound hanging feeder and hung it about bird chest high in their coop. It seems to work really well in keeping the food in the feeder and less wasted food. I put my waterer on top of a cement block in the coop which keeps it cleaner and poop free, but it still gets dusty so I have to clean the tray periodically. It's one of those gravity type feeders with a big gallon jar on top and a tray on the bottom. I fill it quite regularly so cleaning it isn't so bad.

Those are my thoughts so far, I am sure more experienced people will have better suggestions, but I hope I could help a bit.
i expected to clean every day as I do my pigs and horses and cat boxes--but the food waste is driving me nuts! thanks for the suggestions...
I agree with hanging or raising both feeder and water fount. The feed stays clean and if they cannot scratch it out lasts longer. But even raising the water fount, it does get dirty cause they peck and whatever is on their beaks washes off in the water. I only change mine once a day but wash it out well with each change.

Seems that if there is only one poop in the inn, they will step in it and someone always has a poo on foot.

Make sure you give them a place to sand bath, it does keep them cleaner all over.

Make sure you have enough ventilation in the coop, is a must in living environment and keeps smells down.

Get some PDZ and rake into any area that gets wet or damp…it keeps smells down. Dry poops, no smell, wet poops smell.
As far as keeping the food from getting all over the place, and chickens seem to love to "beak out" as much as they can onto the floor, why not consider feeding fermented feed? The information on how to do it is on the feeding and watering forum.

Basically, fermented feed is your regular layer mash with water added and allowed to ferment for several days. In the process, it develops wonderful yeasts and pro-biotics which are wonderfully healthy for your chickens.

The bonus is that almost no feed gets wasted on the ground. In fact, I've watched my chickens carefully pick up every last morsel that happens to wind up on the ground. It seems to be a chicken axiom that if it's on the ground it tastes better.

Back to the poop problem. Early on I decided I was willing to do the extra chores needed to keep the chickens from being a source of evil smells. I use wood shavings in the coops to keep stray poop from soaking down through to the floor, and poop boards under the perches which I scrape and wash down every morning without fail.

In the run, I use sand, which can be bought at any cement and gravel yard, in which I use a cat box scooper several times a day to remove poops, just like a big cat litter box.

This commitment to cleanliness makes the chickens so much more enjoyable to interact with, and all of my friends also enjoy coming by to visit with them, making my chickens some of the tamest, most people friendly on the planet.
I couldn't agree more. A little prep work in the beginning makes for a very enjoyable experience. I use a type of rubber matting under the roost, on the floor and also on the roost boards for an easy cleanup. We then put flakes or whatever you want to use on top of the matting. Super easy clean up and keeps the smell down. A rag and some vinegar water and cleanup is a breeze. Just an idea
sand bath --a tray of sand a couple of inches deep? right now they love to dig around and fluff up in the dirt in their run....

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