What's the best way to clean the bottom of a poorly maintained coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by alhanse77, Dec 25, 2012.

  1. alhanse77

    alhanse77 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 23, 2010
    Rexburg, ID
    We recently bought a little farm which came with an established 8'x10' coop. We opted to buy the 21 chickens that were residing in the coop primarily because we wanted to give them better care. (We do have experience raising/spoiling small flocks of 6 or fewer hens). They had no roosts, nor proper nest boxes, both of which have since been remedied. The chickens are approx. 25 weeks old and appear to be in good health.

    Our biggest hurdle is this--From what we can tell, there has never been any proper bedding on the coop floor. It appears as though the previous owners were doing the deep-droppings method--no litter, no cleaning. Ever. The floor consists of several inches of partially decomposed droppings which reeks of ammonia. The coop has cracks along the roof, and exit to the run, and a fairly large window, so we don't think ventilation is the problem. From what we can tell, the coop is several years old and has probably housed several large flocks of birds. We have started shoveling out the floor, but there seems to be no end in sight. Our goal was to get rid of all of the dirt/droppings and then add pine shavings. Do we need to get rid of all of the old droppings/floor, or just get rid of a few inches and start adding pine bedding? Neither we nor the chickens want to breath that anymore!
  2. Trefoil

    Trefoil Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 7, 2011
    Are the chickens locked in the coop or do they have free access to a run? The reason I ask is because shavings can sometimes cause respiratory problems, if its dusty. Just something to be aware of. Is the floor dry? You can sprinkle DE, or stall fresh on the old "litter" and put several inches of fresh shavings right on top, saving the work of cleaning til spring.
  3. applegal

    applegal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 30, 2011
    I agree with Trefoil. Shovel as much as you can, add DE and some fresh litter. I've actually used a snow shovel to move litter to the compost pile. I would even try to turn the fresh litter periodically with a compost or pitch fork to get it break up. Hopefully the girls will help stir it up. If it is still really bad continue to shovel dirty out and add fresh, but hopefully that will get you by until warmer weather. Best of luck...those girls are lucky you bought them!
  4. Terri O

    Terri O Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have an old coop that I use for one of my flocks. (the basic laying one) The floor is deep, deep litter! There really isnt any smell to it but it definitely isnt "clean." I take a shovel and dig up a 2x2 square or so and sprinkle with stall dry each week or so. The birds scratch and incorporate everything together. I add leaves in the fall and straw or shavings during the rest of the seasons. The birds are outside all day and only go in to lay or roost. Someday I might dig it all out; but maybe I will just bulldoze the building and start over?
    In my new building I will definately be able to get a wheelbarrow inside!
  5. goldfinches

    goldfinches Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2011
    I think deep litter is a wonderful coop method - I use it. I clean it out completely twice a year - spring and fall. I use the old litter in my compost pile and start with fresh pine. I used stall dry when it was getting ready to need cleaning in the spring and also when it was super hot in the summer. Other than that, I just toss some scratch in and let the chickens search for it, or dig to the floor with my boot and scoot around a bit to loosen the litter.

    For your coop, I think you have a couple of options. Dig it all out and start over. You may have to replace the floor if it's plywood and has become too bad to use. Or, maybe a sheet of linoleum covering it would do the trick. (I use one and love it!)

    It may be too late to do deep litter successfully, I've read it has to be started early in the season before it gets too cold or it won't heat up enough through the winter. A couple of piles of the old stuff, though, might fix that problem.

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