Chicken Poop Management

I’ve been hearing about what I consider crazy chicken poop management practices: sand, nothing but sand, and daily cleaning with a pooper scooper—kinda like dealing with kitty poop and litter. Are we serious? Or dry materials such as mulch and shavings dumped all over the place then removed weekly or more often depending on the poopy smells. Really?

Closeup of annual clean out litter

Honestly, I do not have time to carefully rake sand, remove chicken poops, and add them to the compost pile. Weekly cleaning doesn't sound like fun either.

So, how does 107 manage chicken poop?

Two upper levels with wood floors are managed with eco flakes and aspen shavings, so once every few weeks:

Second level litter after about a month of use and no poopy smells!

  • Remove about 80% of the poop and shavings on the third level and add to the compost pile.
  • Less soiled litter from the second level is moved to the third level for reuse.
  • Nesting material from the nest boxes is moved the second level litter.
  • New eco flakes are added to the second level, nest boxes, and to the third level if needed. 
  • Aspen shavings are also added to the nest boxes.

Believe it or not, it takes less than ten minutes to clean the hen house.

Annual clean out of the first level

The first level of the hen house is the ground level. Before we constructed the hen house we dug down about 6" to allow for built-up litter management of 10". As a side note the entire enclosure is protected with hardware cloth under the built-up litter. Check out the resources below to learn more about built-up litter management, materials to use, and the benefits to chicken health.

Monica inspecting my withdrawal of litter

Monica inspecting my withdrawal of litter

Annually before the winter rains usually in November or December:

  • Push the fresh top layer of litter to one side and scoop out the litter underneath. I do not remove it all just a good portion of it.
  • The job usually takes about two hours and yields fourteen to eighteen 32-gallon trashcans of partially composted litter.

Where did all that material come from? Each day the chickens are offered fresh food trimmings and forage. Shavings, dried leaves, grasses, and such are added as needed to keep the litter dry and odor free.

The first level takes care of itself while the chickens scratch and peck their way through the litter and constantly turn the new poops into the litter.

The hen house and run should pass the whiff test: no poopy smells!

Resources

  • Robert Plamondon, www.plamondon.com/faq_deep_litter.html
  • Harvey Ussery (2011). The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An all-natural approach to raising chickens and other fowl for home and market growers. Chelsea Green Publishing Company. ISBN: 9781603582902.