I spend one minute per day cleaning my "coop". No Kidding! I really do!!
It has sand in it, so cleaning is super easy. I used to use a large kitty litter scoop, but I recently made this:
It's a stall rake, which I zip tied 1/4 inch hardware cloth to. It acts as a wonderful sifter. Sand sifts out, and poop and straw stay in. It takes a minute at the most to clean the inside of the coop. Here's how it looks:
I have construction sand in both my coop and my run. It is soooooo sanitary and just a snap to clean. In the extreme heat and humidity of summer, the poop would hit the sand and dry right up. Because I took that one minute each day to clean it, there was NEVER a fly, or bad smell in my coop. The girls have very sanitary conditions which protects them from illness. I use construction sand, and that is more sharp and jagged than play sand. Because of this, it is a less habitable environment for ticks, fleas and mites. It's also great for my chicken's feet! They sell 50 lb. bags of construction sand at Home Depot and Lowe's (CHEAP). It only took 3 bags for my coop interior which is 4x4. I don't have shavings falling all over the place and we all know how nasty it is to clean a coop with shavings. I also don't have the extra expense of buying new shavings. The Henny Penny's love the clean sand.....
Dixie and Jasmine came up to inspect my work. Trust me, they approve. They love having a wonderfully clean hen house EVERY day. They have expressed to me many times how nice their house smells. I tell them I do it because I love them. So while Dixie and Jasmine cooed their approval to me, Daisy was busy in here:
As I cleaned, she cooed words of kind encouragement and gratitude. I told her that I wanted to get a better picture of her. I asked her to give me her prettiest smile and I'd put her on my blog. I walked around and opened the egg box for a better shot. She didn't disappoint. . .See?
And then she left me this:
Now since this time, I have added dividers between the nest boxes. The Henny Penny's have let me know that they needed more privacy. You can see that modification here:
My run on the other hand is another story. In spring, summer and fall, my girls free range all day and rarely go in the run except to get a drink or to go in the coop to lay an egg. In winter, they still free range, but rely on their "organic" commercial feed more. Cleaning the run is a weekly chore which takes me all of 5 minutes. When I have the kids do it, it takes "me" no time ;-). We use the stall rake and easily sift the poop out.
With weekly cleanings of their run, they are in very clean and happy condition's. You'll notice how all of my roosting boards are 2x4 with the wide side up. I live in Michigan, and this allows them to sprawl their toes out when they roost and when they settle down on their feet, their bodies are able to completely warm their feet protecting them from frostbite. See how happy my girls are?
You'll notice that Daisy and Dixie have chosen the months of JANUARY and FEBRUARY to begin their first molt. Seriously? The middle of winter?! Silly hens. I want you to notice their combs. We are well into our first winter, and not a patch of black from frostbite. Wanna know what I did to prevent frostbite?
Here's another look:
Don't fret about the white tips. That is there depending on whether they have laid an egg yet for the day or not. Sometimes they are fully red, and others they have the white tips. It's an egg thing. So my key to frostbite free hens in the cold temperatures of winter is this:
The culprit of frostbite in chickens is not cold. The culprit of frostbite, is humidity. If your coop is well ventilated (and cleaned), the humidity level is very low and thus the risk for frostbite is gone. Those who use the deep litter method create a very moist environment thus increasing the incidents of frostbite. I rarely use a heat lamp (Buff Orpington's are super winter hardy), but lately since my 2 silly girls are molting, I have added the extra heat for them. You'll also notice that I don't have food or water in the coop. I keep that in the run so they are are encouraged to spend their winter days outside. My girls LOVE to be outside. They only go in the coop to lay an egg and to go to sleep. Sometimes, they don't even go in to sleep! I'll come outside to close the pop door only to find them sleeping on the roosts in the run! I of course carry each sleepy girl into the coop on those occasions. So all told, it takes me a total of 7 minutes per week to clean my coop each and every day, and only 5 minutes per week for the run. It's gotta beat the job it must be to clean a coop once or twice a year!! My girls are worth it though.
I don't add any artificial light to the coop (aside from their red heat lamp on really cold nights, and during this molt), and my girls have been faithfully giving me 2 eggs per day. Today, I got 3 eggs for the first time! I am so excited. My happy hens don't care that it is cold out with shorter days. My girls are doing a great job laying.
I can't wait for spring. We are going to get 2 more Buff Orpington babies. It's my hope that I'll have a broody hen at the time we pick the babies up. Tara, Madeline and I would love to see one of our Henny Penny's be a mama. I could just slip the newly hatched babies under her, for her to raise. If not, we'll hand raise them, but we are really hoping that we will have perfect broody timing.
On a little side note, I'm home alone while daddy and girls are at the Daddy Daughter Dance.
Their hair is so pretty. It was a rush getting them ready, knocking out homework, eating dinner and snapping a FEW photos. This is the best I got of the hair.
I know it's been a long time since I've posted, but I've had a rough winter. I had a staph infection in my throat which turned into walking pneumonia which developed into kidney issues and then finally I had surgery. I'm still recovering from the surgery but hope to be feeling better in a couple more weeks. Prayers for pain relief would be greatly appreciated!