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!