Chicken Coop Housekeeping

Deep Litter Method in the Chicken Coop

For less maintenance, the deep litter method is something you may want to consider. The best way is to use wood pellets, or pine shavings. Every few days or so you’ll need to turn the litter using a rake or shovel.  The chickens will scratch around in it which helps, but it’s better to stir the top droppings to the underneath to assist in the decomposing process.

As the bedding and droppings decompose underneath, the amount of bedding will shrink, so about every three months you’ll need to add more, keeping the depth to about six inches. Using this method the odor is minimal, and is an excellent heat source in cold weather as decomposing litter produces heat similar to composting.  This is a great alternative to daily cleaning, and a real time saver considering you’ll only need to clean out the coop or chicken enclosure twice a year. I don’t recommend this method during the summer months, it makes good sense to avoid a heat source during elevated temperatures.

Don’t forget that the decomposed litter from the coop is perfect for the garden, adding rich nutrients to the soil!  Or, continue to compost until it is reusable as clean dirt. You may want to return it to your chicken yard to replace/add to existing ground footing.

Learn more about composting:

• Wood Shavings
Like straw, wood shavings are available in bale form. They are soft and good for drainage, however, wood shavings are usually slightly more expensive than straw. The layers of shavings and chicken mess do not adhere together quite as thoroughly as layers of straw, making wood shaving-lined chicken runs easier to clean than those lined with straw.

Pine shavings, available at your local feed store.

• Wood Pellets
Wood pellets are small chunks of compressed sawdust that are available at any barbecue or heating supply store. Though they are generally sold to be a heat source or cooking fuel, unused pellets can also be used as chicken run bedding either on their own or mixed with wood shavings. Wood pellets will last longer than straw or shavings, but they are also more expensive.

Wood pellets, available at Home Depot, Lowes, and sometimes feed stores.



Creative Poultry Keeping

Whatever Works!

When raising chickens there are only three things that matter… food, water, and shelter.

You can spend a lot of money for an elaborate set-up, but quite honestly, half the fun is being creative with the resources you have on hand.

There’s no need for fancy, chickens are very docile and non-destructive. Whatever you can provide that will protect them from predators is sufficient. Their nesting area needn’t be large, they actually prefer tight quarters. I made the mistake of giving every bird her own nest box when I first started raising poultry. However, one box for every two to three birds is definitely their preference. This nest box pictured below will easily accommodate four birds.

Store bought nest boxes are certainly pretty, but they are also expensive. Check the garage, or a flea market for something else that might be suitable. Apple crates work nicely for example. Or visit a Home Depot, they sell scrap wood in the lumber dept. for as little as fifty cents a board, what a bargain! Have your measurements ready because the first two cuts are free!

Here in Arizona it’s time to start a flock, the weather is perfect for chicks by mid October. In other parts of the country it’s time to research, plan, and prepare for the spring flock. Have fun in your adventure!