Tag Archives: deep bedding

How chickens can make their own bed (ding).

I love my Chicken Mulch Cycle!

The chicken make the straw for their bedding, add fertilizer, and their bedding becomes mulch.  Zero cost.

Hardworking little haymakers

First, cast the feed in the grass for the hens to eat.  Maybe 2-3 days in the same place.  They scratch it all up, and then it looks like this:

Rake it up.

The only sorta laborious part

I rake it into feed sacks, because we have lots of feed sacks.

My full feed sacks in the greenhouse for no particular reason (it's dry)
My full feed sacks in the greenhouse for no particular reason (it’s dry)

The chickens produce far far more hay than could ever be needed in their coop.  They could probably keep me in enough straw for all my gardening mulch needs if I raked assiduously enough.

Fill the coop with the straw.  I find it’s nice fluffy straw, too, like angel hair.  Maybe that’s the grass, not the chicken effect.

Today the poopy coop is getting emptied, not layered up.

Chickens poop on it.  Every day I cover the poop with another light layer of straw, to keep chicken feet and chicken eggs nice and clean.

When the straw mat comes up to the perches, it’s time to clean out the coop.

I find I can just roll up the straw/poop cinnamon bun

and put it in the wheelbarrow.

This is the dog’s favorite part, because dogs are disgusting,  and equal-opportunity turd-eaters (let no turd go untasted).  Usually the chickens want to inspect the process at this point too.

Everything else we do around here and you want us to make hay too?

Then the coop gets a thorough raking out and a new starter blanket of straw.  I used to sprinkle some diatomaceous earth around at this point too, but am desisting in this season because DE is deadly toxic to all bees.  The birds are at their healthiest now, anyways- unconfined, with lots of bathing options, so the DE stays stowed during the summer.

With my dozen chickens, I clean the coop every 3-4 weeks.

Then the wheelbarrow goes a-mulching trees and the garden, completing the cycle.  I think of it as a slow release nitrogen dose.

Coop Management

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In addition to the chicken making mulch cycle, I have a coop bedding strategy that works really well for me, and takes next to no time.  The birds are in a pretty small coop, and they sleep all clustered together, so the night’s prodigious pooping gets concentrated.
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The birds like to perch to sleep on the edge of the nesting boxes, and depending on which way they point, they might poop in the box.  They avoid laying in the dirty boxes, but rarely foul more than one a night.

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Every day when I collect eggs I toss any poop or soiled nest box bedding onto the main floor, and that tends to cover the night’s mess.  If they get low I put in a couple handfuls of new grass, ripped from the ground nearby.  Easy.  Clean feet means clean eggs, so it’s important to keep the coop well-tended so the birds aren’t wading through their own poop on the way to the box.

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Every few days, I cut down some of the tall field weeds (a few seconds with the scythe), and pile it in on the floor of the coop into a soft, clean, green springy bed.  It smells wonderful, especially if I get a stray sprig of mint.  Any handfuls of finer stuff will top up the nest boxes.

The bedding weeds dry out and shrivel up, becoming a poop and carbon lasagna.

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Periodically, like once a month, I take out the whole black composting floor mat and take it to the garden in the wheelbarrow.  It’s so mat-like I can practically roll it up.  Anything remaining falls through the mesh that forms the floor of the coop.  I add a layer of fresh green weeds and begin again.

To recap, I put clean grass into the nest boxes and  throw dirty nest box grass onto the floor of the coop, covering the daily poop.  Every week I put a serious thick layer of fresh weeds that really spruces it up in there.  Monthly I remove the composting result to the garden.

clean Silkie coop
clean Silkie coop

I’m not sure what we’ll keep it going with in the winter.  Perhaps I’ll just scythe down half the field before the snow flies.  True deep bedding method means allowing the bedding to compost for months and shovelling it out in the spring.  The bedding generates heat through decomposition, which is not a summer concern.  My adaptation is just a super easy way of keeping the coop clean.