Making life easier...?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by twoacrefarm, Jun 18, 2018.

  1. twoacrefarm

    twoacrefarm Chirping

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    We have a coop that is about 20ft long by about 10 feet deep. Inside is all perches and nest boxes, and then the chickens have a covered run and are free range all day.

    Inside of our coop, we have a plywood floor, and about an inch of sand. Every morning I go out and use a scoop (homemade - heavy duty dust pan with holes drilled in it) to scoop all the poop before the chickens get up to make a mess of it. There has got to be an easier way to do this? Surely? I have ~100 chickens that sleep in the coop at night, so there are a lot of droppings. Am I missing an easier method? Is the DLM the way to go? Should I not be using sand?
     

  2. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing 7 Years

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    I certainly wouldn't scoop sand poop for 100+ birds every day. That is crazy labor intensive.

    I personally hate sand. You can't do anything with it in my wet, clay soil environment. It simply stagnates and turns the clay into cement. Though others with different soil types and environments love it....but they aren't scooping for 100.

    There are several thoughts to a different approach.

    One, stop putting sand inside the coop as you aren't using it for scratching purposes. If you want to clean daily, simply hose down the bare plywood every morning with a power washer instead. Ideally the flooring would be concrete, but the plywood would work for awhile.

    Or yes, you could use a deep litter method. That is best when it is on dirt as it needs the microbes in the dirt to work best. Some add a layer of dirt on top of the flooring or leave a bit of the old deep litter as a "starter" and then add layers of litter, choosing to scoop and compost every few months to yearly depending on flock size.

    100 birds would create a LOT of poop, and heat in deep litter, which is best for cold winters (which I bet you get in Indiana)....so you'll probably want to scoop out more frequently, possibly every couple months, in the summer, possibly less so in the winter. I find pine shavings really good at holding smell and composting. We have black gold now.

    As a matter of fact, I don't scoop coops at all (but I have waist high coops). I use feed bags cut up as liners and simply monthly roll the bags and dump the shavings into the runs to deep litter. The liners keep the coops really clean. I change liners monthly.

    We scoop runs twice a year. (Actually, we get gardening friends who gleefully come with buckets and shovels to scoop that black gold in the runs...the Tom Sawyer approach).

    The other thought would take infrastructure change. The organic farmers put the birds in tractors and shift the position of the coop every few days. It provides fertilization and natural bug control. With 100 birds, you would need several coop tractors.

    But yeah, I wouldn't be scooping poop in sand for 100 birds every morning. You need to rethink your approach. Either go commercial industry and powerwash or deep litter or organic coop tractor.

    My thoughts.
    Lofmc
     
  3. twoacrefarm

    twoacrefarm Chirping

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    How long do you think I could leave pine shavings on the floor for 100 birds? We did that this past winter when they were all staying in because of snow- we scooped out all the sand and added bags of pine shavings and just "fluffed them" every evening. Is this a practical approach or would we be harboring too much poo in the area?
     
  4. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing 7 Years

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    There is an article on the Deep Litter Method on BYC which I'll link for you. The article and the comments on the article are very helpful as are the additional DLM thread links. (BTW...don't put DE into the litter for DLM...you don't want to kill the microbes with DE....many comments brought that point out.)

    I honestly don't know what it would be like for 100 birds, as I personally don't have that many, but a number of the flock keepers commenting on the DLM article have larger flocks. (My organic farmer daughter and husband swear by composting litter and letting chickens rummage in it...but they also use the tractor method....and they let the chickens follow the cattle which is truly multiple composting....my chicken farmer Grandmother used the industrial method back in the 60's....modern thought is to the more sustainable composting style.)

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...with-chicken-litter-dlm.47740/#comment-503221

    The argument against DLM is that the birds live in their own filth. However, with proper ventilation, shaving additions and fluffing, the natural composting process breaks down the filth factor into lovely compost, which chickens honestly love.

    Personally, I'd rather scoop pleasant, organic wood shaving compost every couple of months than dust filled, poopy sand, that is heavier than anything once wet.

    LofMc
     
    twoacrefarm likes this.

  5. twoacrefarm

    twoacrefarm Chirping

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    Thank you so much for that insight! I think this fall (my husbands a farmer and right now is NOT the time to be asking for assistance in the coop ha!) maybe I can get hubby to take the floors out of the coop for the DLM. Until then, perhaps I should go back to what I was doing in the winter- pine shavings and then just fluff and scoop them out every couple of weeks for now. That can get expensive, but I think it'll save me the stress of getting up every morning at 5am just to scoop poop!
     
    Lady of McCamley likes this.
  6. PetesChicks

    PetesChicks Songster

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    Are you planning on reducing the size of your flock by the time bad weather hits? 200 square feet for about 100 girls is no where near enough. They should have at least 4 sq. ft. per bird, otherwise you can run into problems. It might be ok if they have plenty of outdoor space and only sleep & lay inside, but come winter they won’t want to be outdoors in the snow.
     
    twoacrefarm likes this.
  7. twoacrefarm

    twoacrefarm Chirping

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    Yes, I plan to have only 50 birds come winter... I always said I wouldn't butcher them, but chicken math added up and I plan to take them to auction this fall.
     

  8. uknotku

    uknotku In the Brooder

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    If I was you, I wouldn't bother with "fluffing" the pine shavings. Just throw some scratch in it and let the chickens do that work for you. Another option, since you seem to live on a farm, is a let a pig in there every once in a while and they will completely turn the shavings over for you. You'd be surprised how well the birds can take care of the poop if you toss some scratch in there and let them mix the litter for you. Sounds to me like you have plenty of space for the 100 birds.
     
    beccaWA likes this.

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