How often should I remove straw from the run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by matt14132, Jan 16, 2018.

  1. matt14132

    matt14132 Chirping

    Oct 16, 2017
    Sanborn, NY
    Hello everyone,

    So a question popped into my head a few days ago.....

    How often should straw/bedding be removed from the coop and run?
    I have read different things. Some people say every year, some say 2 times a year, some say more like 6 times a year.

    The reason I ask is because we had a huge thaw here last week and things got pretty soggy when all the snow melted. I noticed the smell from all the frozen poop and just trying to turn the straw with a pitch fork was a disaster. It all looked really brown just gross. So even all the stuff underneath the initial few inches of straw is soaked and I see this causing a problem in the spring. I know that because I have ducks, there is twice the poop and they tamp down the bedding a lot. I noticed because of that, the straw starts to lock together and is even harder to turn and stir up.

    I cant really make a move until things thaw again, or I would prefer at least to wait till spring if I can.

    So I guess my question is, should I be concerned with removing this "yucky" straw as soon as I can? or should I just keep piling new straw on top and letting it compost down until next year at this time?

    As a side note, I realized that using a METAL pitch fork is much better than using a plastic bedding fork for my particular application here. The plastic bedding fork has a much harder time digging down deeper into the bedding and the plastic tines are easily broken.

    Anyways, hoping I will receive a few good responses on what works for you all for cleaning bedding.

    Thank you,
    lazy gardener likes this.
  2. Welshies

    Welshies Crowing

    May 8, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    Yes. Whenever bedding is dirty you should remove it, especially if you aren't using the Deep Litter Method.
    I'd strip clean it. There should be no smell whatsoever in your coop.
  3. Cryss

    Cryss Crowing

    Nov 12, 2017
    Northwest New Jersey
    I'v never used straw so I can only imagine from the discription. I use pine shavings inside their coop, wood chips from local tree service companies for the run. Wood is absorbent keeping the run dry. Chips are easy to sift out the wet using a kitty litter scoop, then just throw it into the run.
    Then I Will and lazy gardener like this.
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I only use hay in "run" area during the frozen winter. Yes it's going to stink come spring. Fork it up into a pile or two or if I'm really ambitious spread it out on the lawn. If making a pile the birds will eventually spread it back out but it serves as a good attractant for grubs and bugs while it's wet piled up. My winter "run" area is under the coop and lean to structure in front of coop. This is covered with plastic or tarps to create extra usable winter space. Come spring they have a huge fenced in area.

    My coop is small and not deep liter. The four or so inches of pine shavings gets completely hauled out when needed and replaced. Depending on length of days and number of birds this can be every 2-3 months or could not need it for nearly 6 months.
  5. Ruralhideaway

    Ruralhideaway Crowing

    Sep 21, 2017
    Upstate NY
    If you are going to try deep litter and need to dry that a bit I'd throw in some horse bedding pine pellets. They are heavily compressed moisture magnets that will fluff and dry it up.

    I've recently discovered a great tool for really stirring bedding thoroughly. You know those garden claw things, as seen on tv? Tines, you twist and it digs in. This thing gets all the way down and really pulls that bottom layer up great.
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    The only time I remove bedding from my deep litter run is if I'm harvesting compost for my gardens. Yes, it will be wet. Yes, it will turn brown. That's part of the composting process. Simply toss more material on top. If you have access to some aged wood chips (like from a tree service company) those are awesome to add to the mix. By putting materials of varying shapes/sizes/and textures into your DL, you make it less likely to matt down.

    How big is your run, how many birds? Do you normally have a drainage issue there in the summer?

    Keeping a DL in the run helps to absorb and hold moisture during the wet times. It releases that moisture during the drought times. It prevents your soil from being oversaturated. We just had a few days of melt. The 4' deep snow cover in the run has melted down to about 2'. All of that moisture is not really a problem. If I see any standing water in the section that is kept free of snow by a green house tarp roof, I'll toss down an other bale of hay, and a few more bags of leaves. Then, I'll toss down some scratch grains to keep the birds working the mix.
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    BTW, good thread topic Matt!
  8. Chicken Whisper101

    Chicken Whisper101 Songster

    Jan 14, 2018
    Monks Corner SC
    That tool will do the job :)
    Ruralhideaway likes this.
  9. Then I Will

    Then I Will Songster

    Jan 13, 2012
    Annville, Pennsylvania
    I use wood shavings for my coop (over cement floors) and the runs are dirt/leaves from autumn leaf drop.
    The wood shavings work beautifully, but with winter and freezing poop and melting poop (and the chickens spending almost all of their time inside the coop because they don't like their feet in the snow) I do foresee myself changing the coop litter a little sooner than I planned.
    Spring summer the wood shavings seem to last just almost six months. Over winter just barely three. It's just one of those winter costs I guess.
  10. matt14132

    matt14132 Chirping

    Oct 16, 2017
    Sanborn, NY
    Thank you everyone for the advice!

    Sounds like I might want to look into getting a garden claw too. That is an excellent idea.
    Cryss likes this.

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