Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chicken pen cleaning

Last Saturday I took a shovel out to the chicken pen and started digging.  I found about a half inch layer of hard crap covering the ground, especially the well-walked on area near the food station.  Wow, it was nasty.  I dug up this layer off approx a 10 x10 foot area so the chickens have clean earth. 

I didn't realize that after 3.5 years the poop builds up like that.  The pen is open to the air and rain, I just assumed it would be washed away.  Guess not, it builds up.  Gross.

So now I have a goal to totally dig up all the earth in the chicken pen.  Our chicken pen is huge.  There are trees and bushes in the pen.  It will take me a while.  But I want a clean area for the chickens to enjoy.  Maybe I'll ask Randy to get  a load of new dirt in his dump truck...  I can only imagine the chickens will be so happy as we bring in wheel barrels of fresh dirt!

I read in a magazine that people put down wood chips and such in their chicken pens.  The pen, not the coop.  What do you use in the chicken pen?  I know many people let their birds free range.  I cannot let the birds free range or they will die, they have to be in a pen with a roof for protection from hawks and foxes, owls, skunks, opossums, random dogs, the list goes on and on....

Inside the chicken coop I use straw or hay.  Right now I'm using hay as the feed store was out of straw.  The chickens love to peck at the grains.  I know some people rave about the deep litter method of coop, but it just sounds nasty to me.  Smelly, nasty.  I cannot do it, I"m sorry.  I like a fresh clean coop.  I recently read the Henny Penny Rose Cottage blog where she used to use pine shavings and changed to sand in her coop.  She now scoops out her coop like a kitty litter box!  I clean mine out with a shovel once a month. It's not a major chore.  The chickens love a clean coop, so it's satisfying.  Maybe one day I'll try making the coop a sand box and see how they like that!


Farm Girl said...

I have wondered about what other people do, I just use Timothy hay in my nest boxes just because I like the nice clean smell. I shovel my chicken houses down to the dirt about once a week. I haul it out by the bucket full and put it in my garden. Then my husband gets a scoop of dirt out in the pasture and brings it on the tractor and he shovels it back in so they have clean dirt. I have also used a Mantis to break up the hard dirt and make it fluffy. My chicken pen isn't that big.
I also when it is warm let them out in the back yard. When I am in the garden they come out there but because of the predators they can only be out there when I am. I have tried other bedding but I just didn't like it as well as the hay. My hens seem to like the hay better too. I have used straw but the hay smells cleaner to me.
Anyway I love talking about chickens. That had to be so hard shoveling out your pen that way.

Razzberry Corner said...

Hi Kim,
Yes, I'm going to ask Randy to bring in some clean dirt for the chicken pen, too. Now that spring is coming it's nice to work outside again!

When you let your chickens free range, when you are with them, they don't wander off by themselves? I'm concerned I'd lose a few - they'd go off and disappear into the woods. 17 is too many to manage. In the summertime I sometimes bring out 3 or 4 and let them in the back yard, but not everyone at once...