Thursday, May 5, 2011

Keeping The Coop Tidy

Yes, I'm going to post on dealing with the poop in the coop today. And in exchange for your patience with the whole messy business, I'm going to throw in some cuteness as an extra... pullet chick pics! 

But you have to wait until the end to see more. So I apologize in advance for the less than lovely photos that are to follow beforehand! 

First we need to talk about the not so cute stuff. A messy coop means messy eggs and not so lovely chickens. While the coop will never be perfect, it can either be fairly clean or a breeding ground for disease. And who wants to go into a coop that always smells and is full of droppings? With a little care each morning and a bit more time once a month, your coop will be the pride of the county! 

Here is the drop pit where the big girls roost at night. I use pine shavings and pile them up deep. I've tried the hay, but it was just too messy for my liking, the droppings seemed to go right through it to the floor, and it was harder to clean up on a daily basis. The pine smells good and is easy for daily maintenance. I only have 6 layers right now due to the coyote who came for dinner... but that's another story.

My favorite tool for daily maintenance is a dog pooper scooper. I invested in a two piece set that is well made so it will last. As you can see in the photo below, it's easy to just push the droppings into the scoop with the hoe-like tool.

But it's even easier to use the tool to just scoop and lift it out. All this goes into a pail until I'm done with the clean up. After the drop pit, I always check around other areas to get anything else that's been left behind before the girls went out for their daily spa treatments... you know, dirt baths, sun, etc.

Next, I take care of the nesting boxes. Somebody usually makes a mess in here a couple of times before the week is out - at least! 

I use a spackling tool for this job.

Since it sometimes gets on the wall of the box, the flat edge is handy for scraping it off. Then I just lift the droppings out and into a pail...

At the end of the cleanup, I just carry it to the composter and add it to the heap.

And the chickens live happily ever after... well, pretty much. It stays nice for the most part, but once a month in the winter, we pull out the shavings, add them to the compost pile, and add fresh shavings. During the summer, the chickens are out all day, so it can go a bit longer between big clean outs. (Remember, it doesn't rain here much, so sun and outdoor time for chickens is the norm).

So, on to more pleasant things, like cute baby pullets...

I haven't named any chicks since my first batch 4 years ago, but these 8 girls seem a bit special. If you remember, this group was the first that I raised in a brooder that had a view to the outside. We placed it in the laundry room and handled them a lot. It's really paid off as I can handle them easily. They're in the chick section of the coop, separated by a screen door from the current layers, and the new girls are doing great out there!

Someday, they'll graduate to the big room. You can tell they're a bit anxious. Over achievers, I'm sure!

Before we brought the chicks into the coop, we deep cleaned it, which is a good idea to do each spring. Jill at The Prairie Homestead wrote an excellent post on the subject of Naturally Disinfecting The Chicken Coop which was a wonderful help. 

Can you share any tips for keeping a coop clean that would help the Homesteading Community?


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