I inherited 22 hens and a rooster. Cleaning help please!!!

RubelliteRose

Songster
Apr 15, 2020
419
1,124
231
SE Virginia
Your flock is beautiful🙂
I have a run that is part sand and part deep litter. We have occasional wind driven flooding so our original covered 12x6 run is 6" of sand. Pro- it drains very quickly. Con- I scoop it at least twice a day to keep up with the poop (my flock free ranges much of the day as well). I wouldn't want a larger area of sand, it is just too much work.
The new area,uncovered 12x12, is deep litter. We use a mix of shavings, chunky pine bark, hay and pine needles, periodically adding more of what ever we have around. As the bedding gets deeper, there is much less mess and no smell. It also is starting to drain quicker with deeper bedding. We won't be removing the sand from the original run, but I will never create a sand based run again.
I do however, love the sand/PDZ mix I use on the poop boards in our larger coop. I would add some kind of lip to your boards and use that instead of shavings.
Your coop will also stay cleaner if you can move the food and water out into the run. We built a "table" in the uncovered portion of our run to protect the food from the rain.
IMG_20210914_072317541_HDR.jpg
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
11,848
30,871
1,116
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
We built a "table" in the uncovered portion of our run to protect the food from the rain.

Your table is clever.

My Little Monitor Coop is too small to have feed and water inside, so I asked DH to make a shelter for my feeder and waterer.

https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/an-outdoor-shelter-for-the-feeder-and-waterer.76487/

With a large flock I think it would be advisable to have multiple feeder/waterer stations. With ~35 birds of various ages I currently have 4 feeders and 2 large waterers but plan to make 2 more waterers.
 

MamaBirda

In the Brooder
Nov 30, 2021
14
37
39
Thank you all for your advice. Here are more pics. As you'll see, I've started the sand transition but need to remove it as I've discovered this is still too fine. Need more gravel like sand. I will be leaving all surfaces bare until I can find a solution that suits me. As you see it's laminate wood flooring which is already moisture warped. I might remove for regular floorboards? I think...

The chickens dust bathe in the pine shavings and the poop sticks to them and the eggs often.
Most birds are in the roosts but about 5 or so stay perched over the nesting boxes and poop all over the entrances to those. I did the deep litter method this summer and even with cleaning every day to three days, the smell was overwhelming.

As far as the venting goes, I'll be adding screens to roof line vents to help with flys. Summer time is horrendous. Already dealt with fly strike. Three of four small windows have screens and two large windows don't open. I don't open the non-screened window as it's not covered by the chicken wire of the run. I'll also be cutting out the panels around the chicken ramps into large walk in closable doors to ease clean out. It should also help with venting when necessary but that's a long term project.

I'll place temporary tarping this week over the run until I can build a peaked roof to match the coop. Hopefully that can help with reducing moisture. Don't mind all the stumps and logs in run, in process of creating a play ground for extreme weather or when they have to be confined.

Also, the pics show all the pine from the coop I literally shoveled out yesterday. It's normally dirt and mud. These savings will be muck within a week.

All advice is welcome.
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3KillerBs

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
11,848
30,871
1,116
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
I did the deep litter method this summer and even with cleaning every day to three days, the smell was overwhelming.

If you're having to clean like that you can't have been using enough bedding. How much did you put down at a time?

You shouldn't put down a foot all at once, but you build it up in layers of a few inches at a time until you've got as much as the coop will hold or until you want to harvest it for compost.

I think I see soffit ventilation, but if that tiny cupola is the only roof-peak ventilation that could be part of your problem. Ammonia rises and needs to be vented at the peak of the roof. Heat, of course, also rises and because warm air holds more moisture that is critical for keeping the inside of your coop dry.

This illustration is from an article on cattle barns, but the principle is the same for chickens:

natural-ventilation.png
 

MamaBirda

In the Brooder
Nov 30, 2021
14
37
39
Going to wait on more coop photos to see if I can make a better suggestion other than changing the layout in there (you have a good amount of actual floor space but it is cluttered in there!)

For the run, two things: see about improving the drainage if drainage is an issue at the location, and also consider switching to deep litter. My run is uncovered and I had a mud/odor issue when I first started, but I started using deep litter and it gradually fixed itself with no extra effort from me.

Start off with a base of chunky wood chips for drainage and aeration. Ideally you'd want aged chips but it's easier to get fresh ones and set aside for aging (though you can start building up thin layers of chips immediately to help with your mud issue). If you have room in the yard to hold onto a load of chips, tree companies (at least in my area) are always looking to offload chips and will do so for free/a small tip.

Now it's a little late in the season for gathering these, but if you have neighbors still putting out bags of dried leaves, those are a great add in on top of the chips. I store bags of dried leaves in my greenhouse each fall for use in the run. Non-toxic weeds and garden trimmings can also be added through the year. In summer, I add in short grass clippings left out a day or two to dry.

My uncovered run floor the morning after a night of heavy rain... it's surface dry even though there's standing puddles in the lawn surrounding the run.
View attachment 2914574

I also use wood chips as my main litter inside the coop, mainly because it's free and readily available, however my birds don't poop a lot inside the coop as I mostly feed and water outside (I keep 1 dry feeder inside the coop). As I do not use poop boards I buy hemp bedding for use under the roost so I can sift poop out for composting.

View attachment 2914577
This setup looks great. I think my roosts are too close together. Wish I had more options to distance inside the coop.
 

MamaBirda

In the Brooder
Nov 30, 2021
14
37
39
If you're having to clean like that you can't have been using enough bedding. How much did you put down at a time?

You shouldn't put down a foot all at once, but you build it up in layers of a few inches at a time until you've got as much as the coop will hold or until you want to harvest it for compost.

I think I see soffit ventilation, but if that tiny cupola is the only roof-peak ventilation that could be part of your problem. Ammonia rises and needs to be vented at the peak of the roof. Heat, of course, also rises and because warm air holds more moisture that is critical for keeping the inside of your coop dry.

This illustration is from an article on cattle barns, but the principle is the same for chickens:

View attachment 2914709
Ok. That's a great tip on a little at a time... I probably was putting down too much at once.
 

MamaBirda

In the Brooder
Nov 30, 2021
14
37
39
Your flock is beautiful🙂
I have a run that is part sand and part deep litter. We have occasional wind driven flooding so our original covered 12x6 run is 6" of sand. Pro- it drains very quickly. Con- I scoop it at least twice a day to keep up with the poop (my flock free ranges much of the day as well). I wouldn't want a larger area of sand, it is just too much work.
The new area,uncovered 12x12, is deep litter. We use a mix of shavings, chunky pine bark, hay and pine needles, periodically adding more of what ever we have around. As the bedding gets deeper, there is much less mess and no smell. It also is starting to drain quicker with deeper bedding. We won't be removing the sand from the original run, but I will never create a sand based run again.
I do however, love the sand/PDZ mix I use on the poop boards in our larger coop. I would add some kind of lip to your boards and use that instead of shavings.
Your coop will also stay cleaner if you can move the food and water out into the run. We built a "table" in the uncovered portion of our run to protect the food from the rain. View attachment 2914639
I love this table. I think moving the food to the run will definitely be my next move
 

MamaBirda

In the Brooder
Nov 30, 2021
14
37
39
Wow. That's a LOT of poop!

I have 27 birds that I'll call "23 LF equivalent" to account for the bantams and mid-sized birds. They have 25' of roost space over lipped boards. It takes me no more than 20 minutes to do chores in the morning.
View attachment 2914599
I'm approaching peak poop board load as the days get shorter. I clean the boards daily and it takes about 1.5 weeks to fill a cat litter bucket that weighs about 40 pounds full.
I strongly suggest getting a solid roof on the run and installing gutters to divert run off away from the setup.
As has been suggested, wood chips are a great substrate. I use them and also allow my flock out of their coop/run combo daily. I have never removed anything from the run. I just add wood chips as needed.
View attachment 2914598
I keep all the food and water in the run. Getting feeders and waterer out of your coop would help with the crowding in there and make it easier for you to work in there.
I LOVE your setup. So open and spaced out.
 

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