Spring coop cleaning day is a big day when we have used the deep litter method of coop maintenance. This deep litter needs to be completely cleaned out as the temperatures begin to warm. It’s a big job. The deep litter has been accumulating for months. It’s time for a complete cleaning.
Since we have 25 hens and roosters living in the 12 x 8 shed, you would think that the smell would be pretty bad after a winter of no cleaning. But, surprisingly, it is not. I use the deep litter method for chicken bedding during the winter months, and unless there is some water spilled, or moisture accumulating somewhere in the coop, there really is no bad odor. I do clean out the nest boxes more often throughout the winter.
How Does Deep Litter Work in the Chicken Coop?
Basically, the way it works is, you add clean pine shavings and straw, in the fall, in preparation for the winter months. You can read more about this method here.
Once the weather starts to stay warmer, it is time to throw open the doors to the coop and begin scraping out the winter’s bedding. We do it by raking and scraping out all of the litter, straw, hay and any removable nest boxes etc. Now it is time to begin the cleaning.
First I carefully look in the corners, under nesting areas and around the doors for any signs of chewing from outside rodents. It’s important to stop any rodent infestations as soon as you see any signs.
Second, sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth powder around the nesting areas. If you discover any moist or wet areas of the coop, let this area dry out before adding the new bedding.
As you can see in this picture, there were some wet spots under the bedding. This was a recent spill from a bucket while trying to refill the water bowl.
On top of the Bantam chicken partitions, we use chicken wire and old feed bags. The old soiled feed bags are removed and new ones are laid down. The feed bags are covered with hay or straw. As you can see, this is one of the popular nesting sites in our coop.
Next Step in Coop Cleaning Process
The next step in our coop cleaning is to replace the shavings or sawdust in the coop. I like to add some fresh hay or straw to any nesting areas. We have a few nesting areas in our coop.
All of the chickens love coop cleaning day. They happily hunt through the pile of used bedding for any insects, bits of food or other treasures.
We add fresh pine shavings and straw. Then the inspection crew moves in to give their stamp of approval.
Coop Cleaning at the Duck House
Meanwhile, across the way, the duck house has been stripped of it’s very wet bedding. The duck house does get cleaned over the winter, unlike the chicken coop. Each week, all of the wet soggy hay or stray and bedding is replaced with dry. We try to do this on a dry breezy day, so that the house has time to dry out during the day. Keeping the duck house dry during the winter requires more frequent coop cleaning.
During the summer months the bedding will be changed out more often. The chickens will not need the extra warmth of the decomposing bedding during the summer.
Making Rich Compost!
All of the material scraped from the buildings during coop cleaning can be added to the compost pile. After carefully tending the compost for about a year, the waste pile will be a rich compost suitable for adding to the gardens. Therefore, as you clean out the coops regularly, keep a system going so that you know which part of the pile is the older compost. Read more on turning coop waste into compost in this post.
Even though this may look like it takes a long time to accomplish, we really only spent a couple of hours on the coop cleaning. I hope this will give you an idea of how to keep your chicken and duck homes odor free and comfortable for your feathered friends.
For more information on coop cleaning read this post on keeping your coop smelling fresh.
Interested in making compost from the chicken waste? Here’s how.