Four Ways To Keep Your Coop Clean And Clean-smelling

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by gsim, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    I have a flock of 23 hens, four breeds. They are all producers of large brown eggs. Listed are three things that have helped me to keep my coop clean and clean-smelling. (My coop is 8' X 16" and is a walk-in coop.) I have had chickens for around 18 months give or take. What I am writing in this post works very well, and is very easy to do.

    1. Install poop boards 24" wide and at least equal to the length of the roosts.
    Scrape them clean, daily. Put roosts 12" from wall. This insures that all of the poop stays on the poop board and none falls on the floor or splatters the wall of the coop. If you can find them, use old kitchen counter tops. The formica is super easy to scrape with a drywall knife or extra-lide putty knife. Linoleum over OSB is a 2nd choice. I keep a plastic tote box with a lid to scrape the poop into. Periodically it goes into my garden or in summertime, around my shrub beds, raspberry patch, or blueberry bushes, or fruit trees. Keep the lid on and snapped down and store the poop box under one of the poop boards.

    2. Ventilation, ventilation, ventilation. It is nearly impossible to have too much unless maybe you are in Alaska or parts of Canada. I have full lenth soffit vents, front and rear, two gable end vents, and a 14" roof turbine vent. There is a ceiling fan beneath the turbine vent for hot weather to help vent heat from the coop . I have two double-hung sash, one at each end of the coop. In addition, I have two large windows that are hinged at the top so as to open outwards at their bottoms for yet more ventilation. My 4 windows are never closed completely no matter the temperatures. My coop is dry, dry, dry. That is very important in preventing lung ailments and frostbite, as well as odor. I even keep an old box fan at one end of the coop on a board at windowsill height. In the AM when I go out to let my inmates out for the day, I turn on the box fan before I scrape the poop boards. When I am done filling the feed troughs, I turn off the box fan. It helps to 'clear the air' more quickly.

    3. A covered roost outside. This is something you will find to be a big plus in keeping your coop cleaner and clean smelling. On really rainy days the chooks used to like to perch inside my coop and stare out those big windows. So they would poop all day on the poop boards and stink up the coop on rainy days. They were also also roaming around on the floor of the coop so they would poop more there too, being inside so much. So, I installed a piece of pressure treated decking on edge to make a roost underneath the coop at one end where it rests on legs. It is now their favorite rainy day hangout. It is around 10 ft long and about a foot off of the ground. They love it, and I seldom see poop either in the litter or on the poop boards during the entire day, no matter what the weather is. You could easily make a covered perch outside tho, in their run. It could be 24" wide and a little longer than the roost pole. Corrugated steel/aluminum/fiberglass sheets come in 10 ft lengths and would be perfect for this.

    4. Use deep litter for the floor. 6" or more. I have linoleum glued over OSB and caulked all around so that bacteria and pests will have no place to hide from my annual cleaning. I use only grass clippings. They are free, and they smell good too. If needed in wintertime, I will add Hay . I only replace the litter and wash down the floor once a year. That is all that is needed. I have 96 sq ft and 23 hens. Each AM I scout around on the floor and on the rare occasion that I see poop, I simply pluck up a handful of litter and toss on top of it.

    There you have it. Four things that have worked very well for me. Any time you walk into my coop, you will only smell the grass clippings that I use for litter, and the smell of their feed ration. (unless you accompany me when I first open the coop in the AM.)

    Last edited: Nov 3, 2010
  2. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2010
    Westfield, Indiana
    Great Tips/Information!! Thanks for posting. [​IMG]
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Excellent list!! Newbies take note.

    Funny thing is, when I saw the thread title in the index I thought "now, what would *I* nominate as the four biggies?" and they were exactly what you've got there AND in the same order, LOL! (I would have phrased covered roost as 'covered portion of run' but your version probably applies to more peoples' coop setups than mine!)


  4. adkchickmama

    adkchickmama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 29, 2009
    Thanks GSIM for the great advice. [​IMG] I do most of that but not the poop board under my roosts. That is where I use deep litter the most and just clean it out once a month. I also have taken to using the vanilla scented "trees" for cars upon some advice here and it helps with flies as well as making the coop smell fresh. THink I will take your advice about the poop board and outdoor roost to cut down on the poop shoveling inside the coop.
    PS I wear a dust mask , (heavy duty), when cleaning my coop. I don't want respiratory problems either!!
  5. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    We use a variation on your observations-

    1. Instead of roosts we use platforms, and scrape them in the mornings and check again at night for a simpler clean-up. I use a paint scraper into a catch bucket.

    2. Ventilation, ventilation, ventilation. We have gentle air flow through an insulated coop. I can increase it by opening protected windows and vents, or close it down if the wind is severe.

    3. We have a large platform outside the pop door- they *love* it and each night I scrape off anything that may soil it.

    4. We use shallow litter, dry, about 4" in summer and 6-7" in winter and swipe off any obvious droppings daily. We use food-grade DE in it and in the nest boxes and keep a thin layer sprinkled over the platforms.

    5. A roofed run. Keeps the soil dry and prevents nasties from descending from wild birds. Drier means cleaner and almost no smell. Again, we use food-grade DE or Stable Boy Powder to treat the surface.

  6. Knock Kneed Hen

    Knock Kneed Hen California Dream'in Chickens

    Feb 15, 2010
    So. Cal.
    Yep, I agree with all four! We just got our first big rain and I decided that I needed a roost outside. It worked great!! [​IMG]
  7. hiker125

    hiker125 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 6, 2010
    Do you dry the grass clippings before you use them in the coop? I am assuming so, but wanted to verify. They seem preety moist when they are fresh.
  8. Cargo

    Cargo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 28, 2010
    Farmington, NM
    Great post with great tips. [​IMG]
  9. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    I put it in and let them root around in it until afternoon. Then I knock the pile down and use a broom or rake to spread it around in a uniform depth. I usually only put in one or two plastic garbage drums at any one time. It is best to allow two days or so for that to dry out before adding more.kBetween tha fresh grass smell and a sprinkling of calf manna in their feed ration, my coop has a smell that is somewhere between cinnamon and licorice mixed with the fresh grass. I only have a poop odor in AM when I first open it. [​IMG] That is soon gone after I kick on fan and scrape poop boards and snap the cap back on the poop bin.

    If you put too much in too deep, it can become mildewed below the surface. Then that could be kicked up as dust later by the chooks and they could inhale it and have trouble. Gotta love that free, good smelling litter.
  10. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Quote:Thank you, Pat. I have read many of your posts when I was a rookie and they were most informative and helpful.

    I have a site which slopes around 5:1 diagonally. So mud is never an issue, and I have a coop that is elevated on legs somewhat on 3 corners. Even tho I restrict the low-clearance part of the area under my coop (who wants to retrieve eggs from an area you can barely crawl to ?) my chooks still have around 1/3 of that area as a covered portion and that is where I put their big outdoor roost. They have three others besides. The run is around 1900 Sq Ft total. I did spread a ton of coarse sand between the gate and the coop so that we would not slip and fall after a hard rain. The lower part of the run is in the N East corner and that is a place where silt builds up. I take that periodically to put on my garden. Great stuff, but loaded with cherry tomato seeds since I feed my chooks cherry tomatoes daily as long as they will grow here, every year. Am going to plant 4 cherry tomato plants in cages inside the run next spring. Will let them plunder at will when the plants get over the top of their 5 ft trellises. Makes our eggs taste extra yummy. [​IMG]


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