Beginners Guide To Raising backyard chickens – Cleaning the Coop – Part 2
Chicken coops need to serve several functions. They need to be able to keep the chickens sheltered from bad weather as rain and cold are two big enemies of chickens, as well as heat in some areas. Chicken coops need to be able to house chickens in a way that’s healthy and clean, with good ventilation. Plus, chicken coops also need to keep chickens safe from predators. Today I wanted to show you a few tips to make keeping the nesting box area clean easy. Believe it or not, I use a puppy pee pad!
This will a be a multi part series, but for today I wanted to show you the nesting box and give you some tips for keeping it clean. If your chickens are roosting and not sleeping in the nesting box, then it should remain fairly clean, but let’s be honest chickens go everywhere. Think of it this way, your chickens produces an egg every 24 hours and it is wonderful to have your own home-produced fresh eggs. Your average size hen also produces 1 cubic foot of manure every six months. I know! That is a lot!
What are you doing with this? Manure simply can’t continue to accumulate in your coop. It stinks, attracts rodents and flies, and the ammonia is not healthy for your chickens to breath. It also can’t be put straight on your flowers and veggies. It can burn the roots and even kill your plants. Check out what I do and how I use it to make what I call “black gold”.
Grass Pee Pad
The most helpful tip I have figured out is the nesting box. This tip uses a grass pee pad. I bought a fake grass doggie pee pad and cut it in half to lay in the nesting box. It is soft and can be cleaned easily. It is meant to look like and feel like grass so dogs will go on it. It was not expensive and is plastic, but very soft. It makes the perfect pad for the nesting box.
I cut the pad into two and then put one in the nesting box. I then covered it with a small layer of Timothy Grass. I also throw in some dried herbs too and will cover that in another post.
When it comes time to clean the coop, you lift the one side of the grass and then fold it in two. You pick the whole piece up and carry it to your composting bin. Remember earlier I said you can’t put it directly on veggies and flowers. But it make a great compost material and turns into what I call black gold.
The coop bedding can be collected with the manure and dumped into a composting bin. Some owners prefer to pick manure and soiled bedding out of the coop on a daily basis; others will add new bedding over droppings and collect on a less frequent basis. All you need to do is monitor the pile and once you are satisfied that the entire contents of your bin are mixed and slightly damp let it cure for 45-60 days before using. It’s ready when most material is dark, crumbly and sweet-smelling like soil. It is incredible for your garden!
Anyways, once you shake it into the composter, you can hose it off if needed or most likely just put it back into the nesting box with fresh Timothy Grass or Pine Shavings. It is really a huge time saver and very easy to keep your nesting box clean.