Northwest Coop Blues - Wet Smelly Coop and Running Out of Beding Options

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Eldergoddess, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. Eldergoddess

    Eldergoddess In the Brooder

    Nov 14, 2014
    I know the bedding topic is like beating a dead horse. But I really need help.

    I live in the Pacific Northwest and if anyone knows anything about us here in OR and WA is that its WET, and I mean VERY WET in the winter. In the summer time straw worked great but now that its winter I am having to fluff the bedding and keep my coop a lot more than I would like to. Its a everyday combat of smelly, damp bedding. And the mud, holy hell the mud, if my chickens aren't bringing mud into the coop, I am. Chickens don't seem to care about the damp but I do.

    Coop size: 12 feet x 9 feet

    -I can't buy shavings in the bag, its way to much money every month, I would need 3-4 bags to even get a OK amount of covering.
    -Straw clearly isn't working
    -Sand, open to the idea but I have a steel floor so I don't know how that will work.
    -Hay allergy so not going there

    I wont do the deep litter method so many use, I just don't have a coop built for that. I can maybe get about 2" of bedding down before it tries escaping thru the door.

    What I need in bedding,

    -Will stay drier in the wet
    -Something that is low maintenance
    -Combat the smell

    I am thinking about trying to find someplace to buy pine shaving in bulk and get a utility trailer full and try pine shavings.

    Anyone have opinions? Live here in the muck and wet and found someplace to get bedding?
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I’m not in your area but with our wet springs, I understand. A smelly coop or run is a wet coop or run. I agree, I think your problem is water. When the weather sets in wet there may not be a lot you can do with your run, especially if it is a decent size, but try reading this. Some of these ideas will apply to your coop too.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):

    There are two basic ideas, stop water from getting in and if it gets in, get it out.

    With a steel floor the coop is probably raised off the ground so ground water runoff is not likely to be your problem. If it is getting wet because of rain blowing in a window, door, or vent, or if your waterer is leaking fix it. If it is humidity, which it probably is, how do you fix that without moving to the dry side of the mountains?

    If the problem is that poop is allowed to build up so much it can’t dry out, maybe think about a droppings board. That’s not as labor intensive or expensive as changing out bedding. If it is a poop problem, is your chicken density too high?

    To get water out after it is in, it needs to have some place to drain to. Your steel floor probably won’t allow that. You are looking at it, I’m not. What can you do to get it to drain? If it has nowhere to drain to, sand won’t do you any good.

    Another option is to get the water to evaporate. That means you need lots of ventilation. Yeah, do that without letting water in! Still, there are ways. You will never get the humidity lower than the ambient humidity with just ventilation but at least try to keep it below that. If you have electricity, get a fan to blow on it to dry it out.

    With your steel floor, your wet weather, and your problem I’d consider going without any bedding, just use the bare metal floor. Don’t put any bedding in there that can hold moisture and see how that works. My concern would be what would happen if your weather dropped below freezing and they were walking on that bare metal. I don’t know if that would be a problem or not. Maybe get a plastic lattice or something like that for them to walk on.

    To me it sounds like water is getting in and the floor won’t let it out. The bedding and poop is rotting and with it that wet, it is going anaerobic. That literally stinks.

    Good luck. You may need it.
  3. yyz0yyz0

    yyz0yyz0 Songster

    May 2, 2012
    one word: Poopboards..........

    as was mentioned above you have to find the source of the moisture and one of the biggest in a weather tight coop is poop.

    I have 8 birds in a 8x4 coop, I have poopboards and deep litter on the floor. The deep litter was a mistake as it doesn't get enough poop to truly work the Deep Litter Method. As of now my pine chip floor litter is going on 2 years old and it still looks and smells as if I just added it to the coop.

    As far as the mud getting into the coop you need something for the girls to walk on before they get into the coop. You don't want them to just walk up to the door and pull their foot out of the mud and step into the coop. Think about how much having a deck on your house reduces the amount of dirt that gets into your house as you lose a lot of it while walking across the deck surface.

    Can you build some type of slightly raised deck outside the door that they will have to cross before making it into the coop? Or cut a pop door into the side of the coop and make them use a ramp to get in and out, that will work the same as a deck structure to rid them of some of the mud. I would love to suggest a piece of astro turf type material to help clean their feet but I can't think of anything you could use that they wouldn't peck at and eat.
  4. mrwoodboat

    mrwoodboat Chirping

    Nov 25, 2012
    I has a similar issue even though I am in the south- we have several creeks and a lot of bottom land so it stays wet and humid. What I did to minimize the impact was to cover my entire run with plastic roofing panels, I then elevated my coop so I could get air movement under it- I built my coop with open eaves and an air gap at the floor to increase air movement also- I then purchased a solar powered fan designed for boats-
    While my house has a constant battle with mildew, my coop now is dry and mildew free....
  5. HighStreetCoop

    HighStreetCoop Songster

    Aug 28, 2014
    Oakland, CA
    My Coop
    Or maybe a rubber stall mat like they sell at Tractor Supply? That could easily be hauled out and washed off regularly and would keep them off the metal.
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    BIG Ditto Dat^^

    Ditto Dat Does Too^^

    Roost boards with sand and PDZ that are sifted clean every couple days will go a long way to keep the ammonia odor down in the coop.

    Run is much harder but keeping water out of there and good drainage can help alot.
  7. HotDesertChick

    HotDesertChick Chirping

    Jan 4, 2015
    Southern New Mexico
    As you may be still looking for pine shavings for bedding material, I would call every farm/feed store in your area and see if they carry SunCoast MINI Flakes (not really "mini" though). As a horse (and chicken) owner, living in western WA, humid coastal GA, and NM, finer pine shavings DO help out with muck. These compressed bales might offer readily stackable, easily-storable "bales" that make it easier to manage litter. Does your steel floor sweat, create condensate, with fluctuations in temps? I have never heard of a "steel floor" in a cold/damp climate (I am often wrong).

    Finding a way to slow down goop from entering the coop would be the first priority? Building a dri-able ramp at coop entry, and some sort of "grating" prior to entry might slow down the mud? Could you try plastic "egg-crate" fluorescent panels (think "baffled" fluorescent fixtures) readily bought at big box stores? Dig 4-6" down and backfill with screened gravel. Slightly above ground level fill the easily-cut "crates/grates" with play sand, allowing a little better drainage. The plastic panels are harmless to chix, and discourage scratching. You may have to use metal ground staples to hold the panels in place. The egg-crate panels will likely become brittle after too much sunlight (no UV protection), but would be easily/cheaply replaced.

    Drainage, and perhaps condensation, are your enemies? As well as improper air circulation within the coop?
  8. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I haven't read through the responses but I live in the Willamette Valley and use sand inside my coop and nest boxes. I scoop with a kitty litter scoop daily (wear N95 mask) and this works great for me.

    It is nice because the cost is low after the initial expense of a bit of sand. I keep a tarp over my small truckload of washed sand, but initially I just went with the Home Depot play sand (not the wet mason sand) since it is dry and washed.

    I would never go back to shavings (but I do prefer them for raising baby chicks).

    My coop has a constant 2-3 inches of sand on the bottom of it. There is a "Got sand you should" thread you can search byc for and has a lot of nice responses there.
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I would strongly suggest NOT using these......the ones I've seen and worked with are very brittle and produce very sharp and small shards when breaking down, could cut feet and really bad if ingested.


    There are other gratings, some specifically for poultry flooring, much tougher that would work for this good theory.

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