Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Deep Litter Clean-Up

 It has to happen eventually. We practice the deep litter method of chicken keeping which means that we don't fuss with hen house maintenance. But, once a year we do have to clean out the hen house and provide new bedding to start the deep litter process anew. I talked about this at length in this post and I was featured in an article in the November/December 2012 issue of Chickens Magazine discussion of the "Once-a-Year Coop-Cleaning Solution".

The day starts early because this is hot, dirty work and it's best to do it on a hot day so that the coop has a chance to really dry out before the birds go to bed for the night.
 My faithful will-work-for-food farm hand/husband/ aka Chris starts shoveling out the old litter that's been building up over the last year. It's very dry and dusty and not a good thing to breathe so he has a dust filter under that scarf.
Starting a new compost pile with this worth it's weight in gold chicken manure. Yard waste and clippings will be added to this over the course of the next six to eight months, we like to let it age further over the winter and by spring it's more than ready to spread in the garden. 
Next comes the hose out and scrubbing with a mild bleach solution followed by another rinse. Everything gets scrubbed - floors, walls, perches and nest boxes.
This is the food storage area all scrubbed down and almost dry. When dry I dust everything and I do mean everything with diatomaceous earth to ward off bugs including the ground around the outside of the coop and run. 
Once the inside of the coop is dry diatomaceous earth is spread all around on perches and in nest boxes too. A deep layer of peat moss goes down and new coop curtains go up. The hens really like their privacy when laying jumbo eggs! Those same curtains used to be in my kitchen 20 years ago, I tell ya I never throw anything away!
Cinnamon loves her new cushy peat moss flooring.
The hen yard gets a dusting of diatomaceous earth for good measure too. In the 15 years that I've kept chickens I've never had a worm or bug problem and never used any kind of chemical on my birds (knock on wood). I truly believe that this routine and attention to cleanliness has kept them healthy and happy. Plenty of clean water, proper food and healthy natural snacks including fresh herbs from my garden and scraps from our table are provided daily. They have room to peck and jump and lounge around and rarely squabble.

If you're a chicken keeper what method do you use to keep your hens healthy and happy? Would you consider trying deep litter keeping?

Until next time,

6 comments:

  1. When I die I want to come back as one of your chickens!

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    1. You are too funny Jeanna but you're right they are pretty pampered!

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  2. I love the base of that old tree in the chicken yard. I bet your chickens are very happy! They all look so healthy too!

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    1. The girls love to play queen of the mountain on that stump, hopping up and down all day long and preening themselves in the sun. I like to put things at different elevations in the yard so they don't get bored and it seems to work to keep them happy.

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  3. Oh I miss my girls :( sadly where we live the badger and fox found it too much of a 'take-away' for me to try again, we lost 2 lots of birds and the farm opposite me did too when they decided it wasn't worth keeping birds anymore I had to feel the same, if they can't do it with all their barns and fencing I have little hope. Your girls look so happy and healthy and I love the method of deep litter I used to clean mine out each week but always wanted to try the deep litter method.

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    1. I understand what you mean about the predator problem we certainly have our critter challenges as well. Chris says if the bears come again we are done with chicken keeping so I know it's just a matter of time.

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Thanks for your comments. I love hearing what you have to say.