Keeping the run clean and smelling nice

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Zach Hangman, Sep 2, 2016.

  1. Zach Hangman

    Zach Hangman New Egg

    Aug 29, 2016
    Omaha Nebraska
    I'm struggling with keeping the run to my coop smelling nice. They spend a lot of time in the run because of the shade. But I don't want them tromping around in their own poo all the time. And ideas on how to keep a build up of crap from happening???
  2. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote: Unfortunately no. Birds are going to poop whenever and whenever it happens to be convenient. You might try spreading sweet PDZ around the pen area (large bags can be procured at places like Tractor Supply). Sweet PDZ is a naturally occurring mineral (zeolites, I believe) that absorb and neutralize ammonia (what causes the smell) and is harmless to your birds. Turning the soil often is good too as it aerates it and accelerates decomposition which also reduces smell.

    Other than that, do you let them free range any? If so you might try closing the coop door when they are out so they'll have to find shade elsewhere. Of course if you also have a garden then simply shoveling out the top layer periodically and dumping it into a compost bin along with your other garden and yard waste is tantamount to having your own gold mine!
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2016
  3. BruceAZ

    BruceAZ Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 18, 2016
    Valley of the Sun :)
    covering the ground with some type of bedding will make it easier to clean

    cleaning out the manure every 2-3 days will also help control the smell
  4. MandalaMaMa

    MandalaMaMa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2013
    southern Oregon coast
    I use straw. Here on the Oregon coast we get alot of moisture and straw seems to help keep it dryer and less smelly. I do go in and rack it around from time to time as the girls like to kick it all up by the hen house.
  5. Zach Hangman

    Zach Hangman New Egg

    Aug 29, 2016
    Omaha Nebraska
    Thanks. I do a lot of those things already but I'll have to look into the mineral. Thanks a lot!!
  6. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 18, 2016
    Assuming the run sits on a site that is reasonably well drained, best suggestion I can offer is a deep bed of organic matter. Hay, straw, wood chips, etc. At least 6 inches or so to start......maybe deeper if it's loose and fluffy like hay.

    I put that down on a garden area next to my coop.......a place where they hang out all the time. It has all the manure......but you seldom notice it, as each rain takes it down to the soil layer below where it combines with the bottom layer of the hay, moisture, air to start breaking down the hay into rich organic matter. As it rots down, I add more on top. Maybe one bale of hay a month. The grass hay tends to have a stronger stem, so doesn't collapse and mat down as much as baled wheat straw does when it gets wet. Legume hay like clover or alfalfa wouldn't last as long.

    Wood chips you can get from powerline cutting crews would also be good. Your area may also have a municipal mulching site for ground up wood mulch. That would be good too.

    For the short run, you just keep building it up.....a foot or more of soft, spongy, mostly dry on top bedding. Long term.......a year or so......if it gets too deep, you can go in and clean most of it out and start over. The stuff you take out goes on a garden, flower beds, around trees, etc.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    The zeolite might help....but not really much and not for long.

    Best thing is dry plant matter...a mix of sizes, shapes, and materials is best.
    It doesn't need to be that deep, just a couple inches will make a dramatic difference almost immediately....just add to it as it breaks down.

    Decent drainage so there's no standing water for long is important.

    Here's a great description of contents and how to manage organic 'bedding' in a run or coop...and there's a great video of what it looks like.
  8. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Basically that's what I do. Before I started expanding my flock I would dump all the mulched leaves from my lawn-vac on the downhill side of the then much smaller pen. After a year of two this 'pile' got large enough that I spread it around just enough to form a level area, then enlarged the pen by fencing around it. The chickens did the rest and now it is a nice flat area that is still soft enough that they can scratch, dig out dusting 'bins' and such.

    Now whenever I clean out the coop I just spread out the used straw and let it 'deep litter' itself into the rest. I don't use straw anymore, I use Koop Klean which is basically short-cut grass and sweet PDZ, but it get's thrown around as before and the birds have a ball scratching through it and mixing it in. This also keeps the floor of the pen level as it counters the natural tendency of it to erode away.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
  9. treefrogging

    treefrogging Just Hatched

    Sep 8, 2016
    Good idea turning the shavings over....

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