Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cleaning the Coop - the deep litter method

If it looks like the debris under the roost is about a chicken deep, that's no illusion. We are practicing the deep litter method, so I started out with a layer of pine chips, then as they roost and poo in there I throw more chips on top, and now, several months later, it's about a foot deep! It got pretty stinky during the winter when they were trapped inside because of the hawk incident, but otherwise it's usually not too bad in there. The chips do a good job of keeping the smell down.

The roost is like a big ladder, and it's hinged at the top, and the bottom lifts up and I can secure it to the ceiling using the hook and chain the food bin hangs from.

Which leaves me free and clear to shovel out the poo. A suspicious hen watches from the doorway.

Three heavy wheelbarrow loads later, and I'm down to the vinyl flooring. It's still in good shape, except for right by the door and the air vent. I'll need to clean those areas up later.

Half a bale of fresh pine chips...

Down comes the roost and hang the chow bin back up.

And invite the girls back in to check out their fresh and clean coop. Ready to start the deep litter thing all over again.

And out in the garden, I have a whole wagon-load of chicken debris, partially composted. I've heard this is good to put straight down on the garden, since it's already partially composted and mixed with chips, or I could compost it a bit longer if I want. I'll do some research before deciding.


dina said...

We've found that if you spread the litter on the garden now and till it in, it will compost pretty much down - perfect timing for when it's safe to plant!

Goofy said...

Dang, you could sell that! REALLY make those chickens pay for themselves!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I haven't done the deep litter technique this year, but I did it last year out of necessity after my surgery. It worked, but boy was it a lot of hard work to get it scraped clean when it was so deep.
I think what made it difficult was that I had ran out of shavings and used some straw during one layer....that stuff really clumps tight into a mat. I also don't have as easy a set up as you do with that nifty hinged roost.

Very clever!

I take all our dirty chicken bedding and spread it over and around our fruit trees. I truly believe that's why we had such a huge harvest last year. I'm hoping for the same this year, too.


StefRobrts said...

I think I'm going to need all of this for my big garden this year :) So glad the little poopers provided for me!

Lisa, the pine chips do leave it light and fluffy, pretty easy to shovel, just a tedious job.

Hope you're feeling better soon!