So, you’re thinking about getting chickens? Congratulations, you’re joining one of the fastest-growing hobbies in America! But are you sure you’re up to the task? Do you know how messy chickens can be? Chicken keeping can be a lot of work, and it’s definitely not for everyone.
Chickens are not inherently messy, but they create a huge mess when confined in small areas. They poop a lot, and their feed and straw can get scattered all over the place. You’ll have less mess if you let your chickens roam free in a big yard, but they’ll still make a mess in their overnight roosting hutch.
If you’re still interested in getting chickens after all that, congratulations! You’re about to embark on a fun and rewarding journey. Just make sure you’re prepared for the mess, and be sure to clean up after your chickens every day. In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about the messiness of chickens and how to clean up after them.
Are Chickens Messy?
Every beginner chicken owner wants to know, “how much work are chickens?”. Are they like dogs where you have to clean up their poop every day? Or are they more like cats, who take care of themselves pretty well and only need a litter box cleaned once in a while?
Chickens can be either very messy or fairly neat, depending on how you raise them.
For instance, if you choose to keep them in a confined space, such as in a chicken tractor or small coop, they will be messier than if you let them roam around your backyard.
Chickens allowed to run and forage will usually poop on the ground, which acts as a natural fertilizer, and then scratch it into the dirt with their feet. However, even chickens allowed to roam freely can be messy if they are not given a place to scratch and roost.
Some of the leading causes of messy coups include:
Chickens poop numerous times a day, and they don’t care where they do it. So if you raise chickens in a confined space, the chicken poop will build up fast.
This is especially true if you have more than one or two chickens because of the amount of waste they produce. It can also be an issue if your coop doesn’t have good ventilation, as this will cause the moisture to evaporate and the ammonia to build up.
Therefore, it’s crucial to clean out your coop regularly. This will help maintain the air quality in your coop, making it comfortable for your chickens and preventing diseases from spreading.
While cleaning, be sure to look at every crevice and corner and under the roosts to ensure you get all the poop. You can then use a rake or shovel to move it to your compost pile.
If you’re not raising chickens in a confined space, cleaning up their poop is much easier. All you have to do is clean their overnight spot, and scattered droppings will disappear in a day or two.
Dust and Feathers
- Chickens will also lose feathers and create dust as they scratch around and roost.
- This can be a problem if you have allergies and can also make the coop messy.
- To prevent dust, you can add a couple of inches of sawdust or wood shavings on the floor when cleaning it out.
To help control feather loss, keep your chickens in good health and don’t overcrowd them. If they have enough space to move around comfortably, they will be less likely to lose feathers as they won’t peck on each other, go into a stress-induced molt, or scratch as much.
Another factor that may contribute to a messy coop is rodents. Rodents are attracted to chicken coops because they recognize an opportunity to get free food and shelter.
They tend to sneak into the coop, eat the chicken feed, scratch around in their bedding, and leave droppings everywhere. Sometimes, they even go as far as fighting with the chickens, which only worsens the mess.
- They can also pass on diseases to your hens that may cause feather loss or death.
- The best way to control rodents is with a good rodent control program.
- Also, clean your coop regularly and remove any potential food sources.
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Here’s a video of a chicken owner admitting the truth about chickens, the mess:
How to Handle the Mess Chickens Make
Unfortunately, no matter how well you try to keep your coop clean, there will always be some mess left behind by your chickens. But, with a little bit of effort, you can minimize the amount of mess they make and keep your coop looking tidy. Consider the following tips:
Adopt a Cleaning Schedule
Adopting a cleaning schedule for your coop is essential to keeping it clean and tidy. You should make an effort to clean out the coops at least once a week. This will prevent feces from building up inside the coop, which can attract rodents, insects, and bacteria that cause disease in humans and chickens alike.
Don’t forget to wear protective gear when cleaning your coop, such as gloves and a respirator. These will go a long way in keeping you safe from dangerous bacteria and viruses.
Allow Your Coop Chickens to Forage
Another effective way to minimize the amount of mess your chickens make is to allow them to forage for food. Chickens are natural scavengers and will search for food independently, which means they won’t need to scratch around the coop in search of sustenance.
This reduces the amount of mess they make and helps keep their living area neat for an extended period. Not to mention, it will help prevent diseases among the birds.
This is also the best time to clean the chicken coop thoroughly and replace the bedding since the chickens won’t be in your way.
Setup Rodent Traps
As we’ve mentioned, rodents are attracted to chicken coops because of the easy access to food and nesting materials. So if you’re not taking preventative measures, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with a rodent problem at some point.
One way to keep rodents away is setting up traps around the coop. There are many types of traps available on the market, so explore your options and choose the best fit for your needs.
Don’t Keep Chicken Feed Out Too Long
One of the common mistakes new chicken owners make is leaving out chicken feed for too long. While you might think that leaving your chicken food out will allow them to eat at any time of the day, this isn’t exactly true.
- More often than not, you’ll end up attracting rodents and other pests to your coop if you leave out chicken feed for too long.
- So instead, try to only leave out food for a few hours at a time.
- This way, you won’t have to worry about pesky critters invading your space.
And if you’re feeding your chicken a specific feed mix, only feed them the recommended amount. It’s easy to overfeed your chickens if you’re not careful, and that can lead to some other problems down the road.
Also, ensure you use a feeding trough whenever you can. A trough is easier to clean and will minimize the amount of food that gets on the ground.
Disinfect the Coop with Vinegar
Vinegar is a great all-natural disinfectant, and it’s perfect for cleaning your chicken coop. Just mix one part vinegar with nine parts water in a spray bottle, then give the coop a good spritz. Let the solution sit for about five minutes before wiping everything down with a cloth.
It’s best to do this when the chickens are foraging outside.
This way, you’ll have plenty of time to thoroughly clean the coop without worrying about them getting back in and messing everything up again. Not to mention, you’ll give the vinegar sufficient time to work its disinfecting magic and for the fumes to disperse before the chickens return.
Consider Using a Watering System
Like any other bird, your chickens will probably make a lot of mess when they’re drinking water. However, there is an easy way to minimize this —use a watering system.
A watering system not only ensures that your chickens always have clean water to drink but also minimizes the mess they make, which in turn keeps their coop clean. There are a few different types of watering systems that you can choose from, so be sure to do some research before deciding on one.
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Use the Deep Litter Method
Another way to reduce the mess in your chicken coop is by using the deep litter method. The idea of this system is that you start with a thick base and allow the litter to build up and compost on the floor or the coop.
You won’t have to remove the litter for a couple of months or an entire season if you live in colder states. The only thing you need to do is stir it and add new litter on top now and then.
Consequently, you’ll not only minimize the number of times you need to pick up manure, but you’ll also create a warm and cozy bed for your chickens to sleep in. Not to mention, you can rest assured the coop with remain tidy for an extended period.
However, the deep litter method isn’t without drawbacks. For starters, it can be challenging to keep the coop clean if you don’t have a sound system for doing so. Furthermore, it’s not as effective in cold weather because the composting process slows down when it’s colder.
Take Advantage of the Tarp Method
The tarp method is an excellent way to minimize the amount of time you take cleaning up your chicken coop. This method involves placing a tarp on the coop floor before adding shavings or straw.
When it’s time to change the bedding, simply remove the tarp and replace it with a fresh one. This saves you time because instead of picking through soiled shavings and straw to separate them from waste, you simply toss everything in a compost pile or trash bag.
The only drawback is that this method may not be suitable for large flocks, as the tarp can become heavy and cumbersome.
Install Dropping Boards Under Roosts
Another way to minimize the mess in your chicken coop is by installing dropping boards under their roosts. These boards sit just below where your birds perch at night and collect their manure, so it doesn’t drop onto the floor of the coop.
The benefit of this method is that you can clean these boards out in a matter of minutes versus having to shovel out straw and shavings.
Use Sand for Your Run
Sand has a natural tendency to absorb moisture and manure, making it the perfect material for your chicken run. Not only will this help keep the area clean, but it will also help to reduce the amount of mud that is created.
Just be sure to rake the sand every few days, so it doesn’t build up too much and create a breeding ground for flies.
If you are using a chicken tractor, the best way to keep things clean is to move it often. This will help distribute the manure and prevent any spots from becoming too messy.
If you’re thinking about getting chickens, you might be wondering how messy they are. You’re not alone. Most beginner chicken owners are curious about this topic and for good reason. No one wants to deal with a lot of chicken mess when it comes to their coop.
Although they can get very messy at times, you shouldn’t have any major issues with keeping your chicken coop tidy with good management and routine maintenance. So, don’t shy away from keeping chickens because you’re worried about how messy they can get.
As long as you put in the work, it’s not that bad of a chore to deal with. Therefore, use the tips we’ve shared in this article to help you keep your coop clean and your chickens happy!