How often to flip deep litter bedding?

cjweaver13

Chirping
Jun 18, 2021
55
101
78
Northeast Pennsylvania
My 16 11 week old chickens have been in the coop for going on 2 months now, and I have never smelled ammonia before. I have a 7x8 coop with a large window on the back covered with hardware cloth I leave open, and 2 permanent cross vents up top measuring about 2x2ft. The entire front side of the coop is basically a double door with another inner set of doors covered in hardware cloth so I can leave it open and predator proof. I don't think ventilation would be my problem with all this. It's probably around 40 sq/ft of ventilation at this point for the summer.

This morning when I went to toss the bedding, I smelled a bit of ammonia. My gf doesn't smell it, so hopefully I'm more sensitive to it and caught it early on. I don't think the bedding had been flipped for about a week because I was out of town and didn't give instructions to. So I'm hoping I just need to flip it a couple times now and maybe add a bit more pine shavings, but wanted to double check to be safe. I'll keep the outer doors and window open for the next couple nights again to be extra safe, and the chickens are outside during the day in their run.
 

K0k0shka

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Jul 24, 2019
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Boston Area, MA
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Your coop is overcrowded and your ventilation is vastly insufficient for your climate. I don't know how big your window and doors are, but even if they are okay right now, they will be shut in the winter and that 2x2 vent will definitely not be enough for 16 chickens in the winter. Especially not in combination with the coop being too small. It's going to smell, get steamy, the steam will freeze on them and they can get frostbite. The good rule of thumb is to have 4 square feet of floor space per chicken in the coop, and 1 square foot of permanent, all-weather, all-season ventilation per chicken in the coop. More is always better in the summer when it's hot, but they need a lot of ventilation in the winter, too. Small coop + insufficient ventilation is a bad combination that will give you problems in the future. Not sure if you can expand the coop in any way, or downsize the flock, but at the very least look into adding more permanent ventilation. It needs to be above the chickens' heads when they are on the roost, so the wind doesn't blow directly on them in the winter. You can cut more vents high up under the eaves. Use PDZ to help control the smell, and add more fresh shavings as needed. The goal is to keep everything dry.
 

cjweaver13

Chirping
Jun 18, 2021
55
101
78
Northeast Pennsylvania
Your coop is overcrowded and your ventilation is vastly insufficient for your climate. I don't know how big your window and doors are, but even if they are okay right now, they will be shut in the winter and that 2x2 vent will definitely not be enough for 16 chickens in the winter. Especially not in combination with the coop being too small. It's going to smell, get steamy, the steam will freeze on them and they can get frostbite. The good rule of thumb is to have 4 square feet of floor space per chicken in the coop, and 1 square foot of permanent, all-weather, all-season ventilation per chicken in the coop. More is always better in the summer when it's hot, but they need a lot of ventilation in the winter, too. Small coop + insufficient ventilation is a bad combination that will give you problems in the future. Not sure if you can expand the coop in any way, or downsize the flock, but at the very least look into adding more permanent ventilation. It needs to be above the chickens' heads when they are on the roost, so the wind doesn't blow directly on them in the winter. You can cut more vents high up under the eaves. Use PDZ to help control the smell, and add more fresh shavings as needed. The goal is to keep everything dry.

Sorry I had a typo it's 8x8 which gives me exactly the 4sq/ft per bird which is why I stopped at 16. There aren't any ways to put vents in the eves because it's a converted garden shed that has the barn style roof where it drops down. I can open it up more in the top another couple square feet and that will be about it without drafts hitting the chickens. The window can actually be cracked in the winter and won't blow anywhere near the roost if need be because it's on the opposing side.
 

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