Do we need to clean dry odorless chick poop?

Grace Brooks

In the Brooder
Apr 6, 2020
35
22
44
Southern California
Hello again awesome chicken peeps 😀

We have 4 chicks in our brooder/coop. (Almost 3 weeks old) We put them in there after the first couple nights because it is warm in southern California, and they have a heater as well, which they choose to only use at night. The rest of the time they are in the run or free ranging already in our fenced backyard, (with supervision, until they're fully feathered).

There is so much poop now mixed in with our hemp bedding, they poop so frequently, it is impossible to get it all. I am out there every morning with a spoon and a bowl, trying to scoop each little poop for half an hour and I am wondering if it's even necessary. The poop is dry, it doesn't smell... Maybe just leave it in there or at least not stress trying to get it all? How often do we need to change out the bedding entirely?

Sometimes they step in it but it mostly comes off. Sometimes there are bits of poop stuck in their feathers, but it's a small amount and that has happened despite my best efforts to keep the bedding clean. Same question for run, will the poop just decompose in the dirt?

Bonus questions: The bedding keeps getting into the feeder and getting mixed in with the feed- is that okay? Their waterer is changed twice a day, but every time I look at it, including right after I give fresh water, it has dirt/bedding/sometimes even poop in it. I have it elevated on a platform now to help. Also, we give them grass seeds and bugs I find as treats, any problems there?

Thank you so much for feedback! Having chicks is fun but lots of questions!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
95,203
126,253
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Poop should just dry up, I wouldn't try to pick out any of it.
Spoon and bowl gave me a disturbing visual.
How often you need to change it all out remains to be seen,
you'll have to play it by eye(and nose).
They should preen any poop off their feathers.
If they are a feathered foot breed, it may be a different story.
I am not one to manage poops that closely...my birds often have poop in their feet.

Show us some pics of your coop, inside and out, please.
Raising the feeder/waterer off the ground helps keep it cleaner.
8 and 16oz sour cream containers filled with sand(or something) for weight is what I use.

This is how I keep things clean:
What kind of bedding you use may depend on how you manage the manure.
This is about cleaning, but covers my big picture
-I use poop boards under roosts with thin(<1/2") layer of sand/PDZ mix, sifted daily(takes 5-10mins) into bucket going to friends compost.
-Scrape big or wet poops off roost and ramps as needed.
-Pine shavings on coop floor, add some occasionally, totally changed out once or twice a year, old shavings added to run.
- My runs have semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are best IMO.
-Nests are bedded with straw, add some occasionally, change out if needed(broken egg).
There is no odor, unless a fresh cecal has been dropped and when I open the bucket to add more poop.
That's how I keep it 'clean', have not found any reason to clean 'deeper' in 5 years.
 

3KillerBs

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Jul 10, 2009
5,507
12,046
846
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
I always managed the deep bedding in my little coop by eye. I'd add more shavings if it seemed to be breaking down through the chickens' scratching and I'd occasionally use the fork to break up crusts under the roost if the chickens didn't do an adequate job of stirring it up when I threw a handful of scratch into the coop once or twice a week.

When it got to the point where it seemed to be too high a proportion of dried poop/poop dust to shavings I'd shovel it all out, make a compost pile, and start again with fresh bedding. For having slightly too many chickens in a 4x4 coop and all of them large breeds I needed to do that clean out every 6-12 weeks depending on the bedding material and the weather.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
Jul 3, 2016
15,252
29,131
1,002
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
Answers depends on a lot of factors - like how big is the brooder/coop, is it elevated or not, what all are you using as bedding (you mentioned coop, not sure about run), etc.

I don't clean out my brooder at all. I simply stir the bedding on the surface every couple of days. I get away with it because under the wood shavings I pile up a good 2-3" of deep litter, so the poop simply disappears into it and will eventually compost in.

Coop is a different matter for me, as my coop is larger and I have hens too. I use wood chips in there and clean out twice a year and spot clean daily. Once your chicks get big enough that poop really is an issue, you'll need to decide how you want to handle coop clean up from there.

As far as food and water, I just dump any shavings out of the waterer and pick them out of the food, and that looks good enough to me. Yes I have them both elevated to reduce the mess.
 

Grace Brooks

In the Brooder
Apr 6, 2020
35
22
44
Southern California
Poop should just dry up, I wouldn't try to pick out any of it.
Spoon and bowl gave me a disturbing visual.
How often you need to change it all out remains to be seen,
you'll have to play it by eye(and nose).
They should preen any poop off their feathers.
If they are a feathered foot breed, it may be a different story.
I am not one to manage poops that closely...my birds often have poop in their feet.

Show us some pics of your coop, inside and out, please.
Raising the feeder/waterer off the ground helps keep it cleaner.
8 and 16oz sour cream containers filled with sand(or something) for weight is what I use.

This is how I keep things clean:
What kind of bedding you use may depend on how you manage the manure.
This is about cleaning, but covers my big picture
-I use poop boards under roosts with thin(<1/2") layer of sand/PDZ mix, sifted daily(takes 5-10mins) into bucket going to friends compost.
-Scrape big or wet poops off roost and ramps as needed.
-Pine shavings on coop floor, add some occasionally, totally changed out once or twice a year, old shavings added to run.
- My runs have semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are best IMO.
-Nests are bedded with straw, add some occasionally, change out if needed(broken egg).
There is no odor, unless a fresh cecal has been dropped and when I open the bucket to add more poop.
That's how I keep it 'clean', have not found any reason to clean 'deeper' in 5 years.
Thank you so much for the reply, it's really helpful. Here are some pictures of the coop and the inside of the run as well. One of our birds has feathered feet, the rest don't and we use hemp bedding. I have never heard of aged ramial wood chippings, will check them out. We plan to use straw for nests when the time comes.
 

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Grace Brooks

In the Brooder
Apr 6, 2020
35
22
44
Southern California
Answers depends on a lot of factors - like how big is the brooder/coop, is it elevated or not, what all are you using as bedding (you mentioned coop, not sure about run), etc.

I don't clean out my brooder at all. I simply stir the bedding on the surface every couple of days. I get away with it because under the wood shavings I pile up a good 2-3" of deep litter, so the poop simply disappears into it and will eventually compost in.

Coop is a different matter for me, as my coop is larger and I have hens too. I use wood chips in there and clean out twice a year and spot clean daily. Once your chicks get big enough that poop really is an issue, you'll need to decide how you want to handle coop clean up from there.

As far as food and water, I just dump any shavings out of the waterer and pick them out of the food, and that looks good enough to me. Yes I have them both elevated to reduce the mess.
Thank you, to clarify, our brooder and our coop are one in the same, but I think your advice will still work, just mixing it, adding more hemp bedding as needed and then maybe composting and starting fresh once it gets really bad.
 

Grace Brooks

In the Brooder
Apr 6, 2020
35
22
44
Southern California
Answers depends on a lot of factors - like how big is the brooder/coop, is it elevated or not, what all are you using as bedding (you mentioned coop, not sure about run), etc.

I don't clean out my brooder at all. I simply stir the bedding on the surface every couple of days. I get away with it because under the wood shavings I pile up a good 2-3" of deep litter, so the poop simply disappears into it and will eventually compost in.

Coop is a different matter for me, as my coop is larger and I have hens too. I use wood chips in there and clean out twice a year and spot clean daily. Once your chicks get big enough that poop really is an issue, you'll need to decide how you want to handle coop clean up from there.

As far as food and water, I just dump any shavings out of the waterer and pick them out of the food, and that looks good enough to me. Yes I have them both elevated to reduce the mess.
I always managed the deep bedding in my little coop by eye. I'd add more shavings if it seemed to be breaking down through the chickens' scratching and I'd occasionally use the fork to break up crusts under the roost if the chickens didn't do an adequate job of stirring it up when I threw a handful of scratch into the coop once or twice a week.

When it got to the point where it seemed to be too high a proportion of dried poop/poop dust to shavings I'd shovel it all out, make a compost pile, and start again with fresh bedding. For having slightly too many chickens in a 4x4 coop and all of them large breeds I needed to do that clean out every 6-12 weeks depending on the bedding material and the weather.
I like "slightly too many chickens" lol, us too. Thank you!
 

Grace Brooks

In the Brooder
Apr 6, 2020
35
22
44
Southern California
Thank you, to clarify, our brooder and our coop are one in the same, but I think your advice will still work, just mixing it, adding more hemp bedding as needed and then maybe composting and starting fresh once it gets really bad.
Also, we are not putting anything down in the run, it's just dirt and hemp bedding that falls out of the coop into the run despite my best efforts to keep it in. :)
 

Acre4Me

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
6,040
17,371
817
Western Ohio
you’ve discovered chickens are messy! Yes, clean as you can, change bedding to suit your cleanliness level. We use shavings, toss around every few days to expose clean(er) sides and then remove when very poopy or smelly. Goes into compost. Entire coop cleaned/swept, new shavings go in. During the winter if it is a frozen mass, then new shavings go on top with the refresh occurring once a thaw happens.

raise up the feeders...once grown you aim to have the feeders at back height bc they are less inclined to swipe out the food. We purchased solid cinder blocks to prop up the feeder and waterer, with an additional cinderblock step on two or three sides bc the higher it is, the less debris in the feed/water. Solid cinderblock are preferable to regular cinder blocks with the two holes bc mice/rodents find those spaces quite nice being so close to yummy feed!

Good luck and enjoy your chicks!
 

MANNA-PRO

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