question about coop cleaning

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by pegbo, Feb 8, 2007.

  1. pegbo

    pegbo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi all! I,ve been wondering about something. How often do you clean your coop in winter? I,ve been doing it about every two weeks because their shavings get damp and or frozen. I know their droppings are suppose to produce heat but they seem so happy when I clean it. In fact they all want to help. Am I doing it too much or should I do it more? It,s alot of work but I like having a clean coop! Also They keep kicking the shavings out of their nesting boxes, but then won't lay in the boxes because of no shavings! I could go through alot of shavings if this keeps up any help would be appreciated!
     
  2. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator Staff Member

    First question is how are the shavings getting wet? I'd resolve that problem first. My coop is covered so my shavings are always super dry. Even wet chicken feet don't get the shavings wet enough to remain wet.

    I'm not sure, but I may be doing the "deep litter method" (search the forum) and only change my shavings about 2 - 4 times a year.
     
  3. bigzio

    bigzio Overrun With Chickens

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    I do a complete change of shavings twice a year. In the fall I start with 4"to 6" of shavings, but I add some most days until it's fairly deep, just kinda like a fresh topping.

    I have a lip on the front of the nest boxes to keep the shavings in and the eggs from rolling out.

    I've heard that before about the poo giving off heat, but frozen poo does not give any heat off in our coop.

    Silly as this may sound, picking up frozen poo on a daily basis when collecting eggs or letting birds out in the morning works for me and keeps the coop very clean, I toss in a pail and dump on the garden. It sure makes it nice when the weather warms and I don't have all the thawing poo. [​IMG]

    bigzio
     
  4. SandraChick

    SandraChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Pegbo-

    Seems to me you're doing way more work than you have to. I also use the deep litter method, but the absolute key to this system is to keep it DRY.

    Of course it would be helpful to see a photo of your set up...here are a few thoughts

    1. find out why/how your shavings are getting wet--water is also the thing that changes the urea in bird poop into amonia which is unhealthy for your birds.
    -check the waterer, raising it on blocks or better yet, hanging often solves the problem
    -Do you have condensation that drips- ventilation is your key here
    -Add food grade diatomaceous earth(DE), sweet PDZ, or Stall dry to your shavings---this helps keep things dry--Many don't do this part, but many including myself do and it does seem to keep humidity down. They all help with any fly issues in the summer, and DE also help control any insects (mites, lice, etc)

    2. For the deep litter method
    -Start with 3-6 inches of shavings and ~once/per week or as needed stir it up the top couple of inches and then add another inch or so. Take out any areas that have gotten wet (typically by the door, or by the waterer). Many folks will spread a little scratch or oystershell in their shavings so that the birds take care of mixing it up for you. Also, some will have a dropping board (less mess AND less work!) THis whole combination will also help insulate the coop and give off some heat as well. Most people using this method clean out their coop 1-2 times per year, but start it at the lastest in the fall so that insulating/heating properties are well established for the winter (although better late than never is appropriate here). You can also use the shavings in your compost and then your garden.

    3. Regarding your nest boxes....Do you have a lip in front to keep shavings from falling out? Mine will "nest" around to create a nice spot for the egg, but if I didn't have a lip in front, the process kicks out all the shavings. I personally put a small layer of shavings and then some hay for the nest. They seem to prefer laying in the hay and I only use a handful.

    4. The fact that your litter freezes is concerning. You should check that your coop is Draft free while maintaining good ventilation.

    There are many different methods to care for a coop, whatever you choose, I hope this was helpful.
    Good luck
    Sandra
     
  5. pegbo

    pegbo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi, Pegbo here! Thanks for all the input. To answer some questions; the litter seems to get wet near the door mainly and under the girls roosts. I do have a lip on all my nesting boxes but it doesn,t seem to help, they just like kicking it out. I,ll have to try the deep litter method and see if that works. We,ve had an awful wet fall and winter here in NY and alot of the wet was from that. I just thought the chickens urine was making it wet and freezing! It didn't help that the shavings I bought were frozen from the cold weather. I usually get my supplies from central tractor or a local store so.I CAN"T WAIT TILL SPRING!!!
     
  6. pegbo

    pegbo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi, again. Do chickens pee? Now that I think about I'm not sure they do. I also wanted to say my coop is very snug, roofed and cozy with south facing windows for the sun. My chickens don't seem uncomfortable.
     
  7. bigzio

    bigzio Overrun With Chickens

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    pegbo, chickens don't actually pee, it's not like most animals that go #1 and #2, they are birds and do what I would call #3, a combination of 1 and 2. Hope that makes sence.

    If your shavings were frozen to start with, that means they were wet to begin with and I think that is where you have a problem.

    Maybe it would be good to start with a fresh bale and dry these in the sun when weather permits.

    bigzio
     
  8. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator Staff Member

    Yup... they do #3! Just like many reptiles (my snakes would always do #3).

    Do all birds / reptiles do #3?
     
  9. Kelly FG

    Kelly FG Chillin' With My Peeps

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    my coop is small & up until the weather got really cold(a few weeks ago) I changed out all the shavings once every week or week & a half. Now I'm trying deep litter, my coop is 100% dry & draft free, I think I can detect a slight ammonia smell, but I don't understand why. Every night I throw scratch in & let them toss up the area by the door, that in turns kicks bedding on top of the pile of #3 under the roost.
    I use hay in my nest boxes & change it once a month. I also use DE in the nests & the entire coop.
     
  10. bigzio

    bigzio Overrun With Chickens

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    I think you need to add more shavings to keep up with the moisture.

    Straw in the nests is excellent, however hay retains moisture and is not as good in the nests as pine shavings. If you have a source for straw that would be good, or just use the pine shavings, alot of folks do that.

    bigzio
     

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