One of the chores I like to save for beautiful Fall weather is cleaning out the coop. I know that before I got chickens, I really wanted to see other people’s coops and how exactly they did things. So here is a look at my coop and the regular maintenance I have to do to keep my girls happy.
My coop is basically a chicken tractor made permanent. See how I built my chicken coop here. It is only good to protect my egg laying divas during the night. I have to get up in the morning to let them out. Trust me they let me know if I am late. Late is after 8 am, so it is not like they start wailing at 5 o’clock in the morning or anything. They have a kind of wail that they only make when they want out. It is the strangest sound, kind of like a long drawn out moooooom , where are youuuuuuu? You have to hear it to understand.
To clean out my coop I have get someone to help me lift the coop off of the raised bed it is resting on. I have handles on either end, but it is too heavy for me to lift by myself. Thankfully my strong boys help me. Shoveling out all the old bedding and putting in new wood shavings is not too hard of a task, considering you only have to do it about 3 times per year. I empty out the nest boxes and add new hay to freshen things up. I heard for the first time the other day that it is a good idea to add crushed dried herbs to the nest boxes to make them more appealing to your hens. I tried crushed basil this time. Yes, hens are a constant source of amusement. They always want to lay eggs where everyone else is laying. I just have 2 nest boxes for my 10 hens. I call them nest boxes but they are a little unconventional. One is an old basket, the other is an old drawer. This time of year as we transition into winter the light wanes as the days grow shorter. You will notice your egg production reducing quite a bit. This is why commercial growers put a light on their chickens 24 hours a day; to keep their egg production up. Here at the homestead we try to work with nature instead of against it. That means more kale, less eggs. This is also the time that the rabbits really start producing well. While one thing lessens another takes it’s place. This probably wouldn’t work up north but I lean pallets against the coop to provide a wind break. A lot of people ask me if I need to provide a heat source for my girls when temps fall below freezing. The answer is no. It is important to make sure their water is unfrozen. Other than that chickens really do better in the Winter here than the heat of the Summer.
After the coop is all cleaned out it is time to add new wood chips. I get what is called a “Country Boy” which is farmer speak for a big packed bag of wood shavings. I get mine from my local feed store in Garland. When I first started chickens I used Fall leaves gathered from the curb. I like the shavings better because the compost turns out better, but oak leaves work out well as chicken bedding too. It is hard to see in the picture but the bottom of the coop against the ground is wire screen(yard cloth) to keep digging critters out.
My hens get very curious about all the changes taking place and come to check it all out. I put the old bedding into a bin and drag it to my compost. Thankfully I don’t have to go too far. I keep my compost in my chicken yard so that my hens can stir my compost and so that they can get the minerals they need to keep their egg shells hard. I put the cracked egg shells in the compost where my hens can gobble them up therefore getting the calcium they need to keep their egg shells firm. I also put other left over kitchen scraps in the compost for them to enjoy. Speaking of compost, a lot of people ask me about mine. Let me just say that trying to heat up a compost pile without manure of some sort is NOT easy. To heat up a compost pile without manure add fresh grass clippings. However right about the time fall leaves are readily abundant, grass clippings are NOT readily available. If you have read my posts at all you are probably sensing a theme; get an animal or a source of manure for your garden. Chickens or rabbits, even worms; your garden will thank you with beautiful veggies.
This post was shared at Simple Saturdays Blog Hop