UrbanHenKW123

Songster
Jun 25, 2019
92
152
106
Kitchener - Canada
So I'll start off by saying I'm a bit of a germaphobe. My girls are almost ready to lay. I clean out their coop once a week and give it some clean pine chips in there. I also sanitize their drinker and feeder with a vinegar solution. the run is sand based so I scoop that out once a week too. Is that sanitary? I keep thinking their walking all over their poop? mean I see a lot of people out there have dirt runs and I'm assuming they don't clean them very often? Just curious to see if there's anything I'm missing.
 

Acre4Me

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2017
5,191
13,495
737
Western Ohio
Yes, they walk all over their poop, but this can be mitigated by having a variety of bedding sizes, like bark, chipped wood, mulch...etc. we piled in some chipped wood recently. It has settled down well, but still about 8” thick. Their feet seem cleaner, but there are still droppings I can see some of the time. In another area, we added several bags of coarse paved sand, sawdust, and peat moss. They dust bathe in this area and I never see poop bc it is turned over all the time.


I’ve never used sand by itself, so I can’t comment on how often to clean it.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
Feb 2, 2009
25,967
16,354
797
Southeast Louisiana
I feel the chickens themselves are healthier if they are not raised or kept in a sterile environment. I depend on strengthening their immune system so they can better handle more of what nature throws at them. From what you described I don't think you are that fanatic about it either, especially with what I sometimes read on here. I think yours are being exposed to their environment.

Yes, they will walk and scratch in their poop. If the coop and to a lesser extent run are dry, their feet will stay pretty clean. Not perfectly clean but pretty clean. You can look at them up close and see how dirty their feet really are. When they take a dust bath the dirt usually has dried poop in it. There is stuff in nature not related to poop that is not especially healthy. When they get on and off a nest they do walk on the eggs. They settle their feathers on the eggs. So there is a chance something bad can be on your eggs. I see no reason to lie to you.

When the hen lays an egg she puts a layer we call bloom on it. When the egg is laid it looks wet but that quickly dries. Bloom helps keep bacteria out of the porous egg. It is so effective a hen can hide a nest and lay eggs in it for two weeks, then incubate the eggs for three weeks and bacteria does not get in and kill the embryo. Other poultry like ducks can incubate for five weeks. Bloom is pretty effective as long as it stays intact. If you wash it off though it cannot protect.

I don't consider myself a germaphobe but after I handle chickens or eggs I wash my hands. If eggs have visible dirt or poop on them I wash them (which removes the bloom) and store them in the refrigerator. When they are that cold bacteria cannot multiply so the eggs are not going to go bad. Some people wash and refrigerate all their eggs. I store my clean eggs on the kitchen counter without first washing them. With the bloom intact they stay good for over a month. I wash them before I use them though.

I don't consider washing my hands after I handle eggs or chickens as being a germaphobe. I don't consider washing the eggs before I use them as being excessivbe. I think it is common sense.
 

trumpeting_angel

Free Ranging
Feb 6, 2019
1,611
5,951
577
Vermont
Just like with babies, chickens should be exposed to germs, slowly, as they grow up. It’s why we put a piece of sod in the brooder, so they can encounter coccidia in a limited way and develop immunity. Like a vaccine.

I think the issues of a coop and run are a little different. In nature (although our domesticated chickens are pretty far from their natural roots), they wouldn’t be pooping in a limited number of square feet, but all over the yard. So it wouldn’t be such a concentrated Petri dish.

I scoop out my coop daily - it’s smaller than I would like. I put a variety of materials into the run (wood chips, pine cones, leaves, sticks, ashes, and garden waste) and they keep turning it whenever I add something new. But I let them out when I can. It does seem healthier.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
86,278
102,318
1,727
SW Michigan
My Coop
So I'll start off by saying I'm a bit of a germaphobe.
Chickens will cure you of that...or not.
The common sense that @Ridgerunner mentioned is good, just don't let it drive you nuts.

the run is sand based so I scoop that out once a week too. Is that sanitary?
I don't think sand is sanitary for chicken bedding, eventually it will become saturated with pulverized poop and will reek when the least bit damp...and in your climate it will likely freeze solid in winter, unless maybe your run is weather proof.
How big your coop and run are coupled with how many birds you have can have a big impact.


What kind of bedding you use may depend on how you manage the manure.
This is about cleaning, but covers my big picture

-I use poop boards under roosts with thin(<1/2") layer of sand/PDZ mix, sifted daily(takes 5-10mins) into bucket going to friends compost.

-Scrape big or wet poops off roost and ramps as needed.

-Pine shavings on coop floor, add some occasionally, totally changed out once or twice a year, old shavings added to run.

- My runs have semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are best IMO.

-Nests are bedded with straw, add some occasionally, change out if needed(broken egg).

There is no odor, unless a fresh cecal has been dropped and when I open the bucket to add more poop.

That's how I keep it 'clean', have not found any reason to clean 'deeper' in 5 years.
 

UrbanHenKW123

Songster
Jun 25, 2019
92
152
106
Kitchener - Canada
I feel the chickens themselves are healthier if they are not raised or kept in a sterile environment. I depend on strengthening their immune system so they can better handle more of what nature throws at them. From what you described I don't think you are that fanatic about it either, especially with what I sometimes read on here. I think yours are being exposed to their environment.

Yes, they will walk and scratch in their poop. If the coop and to a lesser extent run are dry, their feet will stay pretty clean. Not perfectly clean but pretty clean. You can look at them up close and see how dirty their feet really are. When they take a dust bath the dirt usually has dried poop in it. There is stuff in nature not related to poop that is not especially healthy. When they get on and off a nest they do walk on the eggs. They settle their feathers on the eggs. So there is a chance something bad can be on your eggs. I see no reason to lie to you.

When the hen lays an egg she puts a layer we call bloom on it. When the egg is laid it looks wet but that quickly dries. Bloom helps keep bacteria out of the porous egg. It is so effective a hen can hide a nest and lay eggs in it for two weeks, then incubate the eggs for three weeks and bacteria does not get in and kill the embryo. Other poultry like ducks can incubate for five weeks. Bloom is pretty effective as long as it stays intact. If you wash it off though it cannot protect.

I don't consider myself a germaphobe but after I handle chickens or eggs I wash my hands. If eggs have visible dirt or poop on them I wash them (which removes the bloom) and store them in the refrigerator. When they are that cold bacteria cannot multiply so the eggs are not going to go bad. Some people wash and refrigerate all their eggs. I store my clean eggs on the kitchen counter without first washing them. With the bloom intact they stay good for over a month. I wash them before I use them though.

I don't consider washing my hands after I handle eggs or chickens as being a germaphobe. I don't consider washing the eggs before I use them as being excessivbe. I think it is common sense.

This is awesome - thank you!!
 

UrbanHenKW123

Songster
Jun 25, 2019
92
152
106
Kitchener - Canada
Chickens will cure you of that...or not.
The common sense that @Ridgerunner mentioned is good, just don't let it drive you nuts.

I don't think sand is sanitary for chicken bedding, eventually it will become saturated with pulverized poop and will reek when the least bit damp...and in your climate it will likely freeze solid in winter, unless maybe your run is weather proof.
How big your coop and run are coupled with how many birds you have can have a big impact.


What kind of bedding you use may depend on how you manage the manure.
This is about cleaning, but covers my big picture

-I use poop boards under roosts with thin(<1/2") layer of sand/PDZ mix, sifted daily(takes 5-10mins) into bucket going to friends compost.

-Scrape big or wet poops off roost and ramps as needed.

-Pine shavings on coop floor, add some occasionally, totally changed out once or twice a year, old shavings added to run.

- My runs have semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are best IMO.

-Nests are bedded with straw, add some occasionally, change out if needed(broken egg).

There is no odor, unless a fresh cecal has been dropped and when I open the bucket to add more poop.

That's how I keep it 'clean', have not found any reason to clean 'deeper' in 5 years.

my run is 8 x 4 and i only have 3 girls. I was wondering how to get around the whole sand freezing thing. So you're saying that you use wood chips or a mixture of wood chips on the bottom of your run and the poop composts? how deep is it? I'll have to dig out all my sand now lol.
 

Cryss

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2017
4,178
10,296
747
Northwest New Jersey
Chickens will cure you of that...or not.
The common sense that @Ridgerunner mentioned is good, just don't let it drive you nuts.

I don't think sand is sanitary for chicken bedding, eventually it will become saturated with pulverized poop and will reek when the least bit damp...and in your climate it will likely freeze solid in winter, unless maybe your run is weather proof.
How big your coop and run are coupled with how many birds you have can have a big impact.


What kind of bedding you use may depend on how you manage the manure.
This is about cleaning, but covers my big picture

-I use poop boards under roosts with thin(<1/2") layer of sand/PDZ mix, sifted daily(takes 5-10mins) into bucket going to friends compost.

-Scrape big or wet poops off roost and ramps as needed.

-Pine shavings on coop floor, add some occasionally, totally changed out once or twice a year, old shavings added to run.

- My runs have semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are best IMO.

-Nests are bedded with straw, add some occasionally, change out if needed(broken egg).

There is no odor, unless a fresh cecal has been dropped and when I open the bucket to add more poop.

That's how I keep it 'clean', have not found any reason to clean 'deeper' in 5 years.
:goodpost:
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
86,278
102,318
1,727
SW Michigan
My Coop
So you're saying that you use wood chips or a mixture of wood chips on the bottom of your run and the poop composts? how deep is it? I'll have to dig out all my sand now lol.
Yes.
Not that deep, 1" to 4-5".
Just put the wood chips on top of the sand?

Pics of your coop and run might help here.
 

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