Winter Coop Remodel

The words you hate to hear when you are on a farm. SNOW IS COMING! The warning came earlier this year so we were caught off guard. You should always do a thorough coop cleaning in the early spring and in the late fall before the snow comes. Last year it was in November.

We’d been talking about all the changes we wanted to make to the coop and agreed that the time to do it was when we did the bi-annual cleaning. Now snow has been predicted in a couple days and we were completely unprepared!

Why changes? Well, let’s see. You probably notice we have no internal wall board. We put up some of that shiny thin insulation between the beams but never put up drywall. We didn’t want to overdo the pocket book for a coop and we definitely didn’t want to insulate more. We found some thin, low cost, pre-primered no VOC plywood to finish the building and reduce the drafts.

We also noticed the ladies would try and jump from the roosts straight across to the nesting boxes a couple feet away or they would struggle trying to find a spot to jump off of the roost that was far enough away from the nesting boxes.They are big, fat and not very graceful when they try to fly so some of them banged themselves up! Not too bright. Moving the roosts and nesting boxes seemed to be in order.

Also, after spending 6 weeks eradicating lice from the coop, a lesson learned from getting somebody’s FREE rooster….(now we know why he was free), cleanliness is a must. The nesting boxes are a nightmare. First we started by covering the wooden floor of each nesting box with shelf liner. We learned quickly that there is a lot of scratching going on in those boxes and the liner wouldn’t stay in the box. We tried hay for nesting material but it was kicked out as well. So we found some nesting pads which were disposable but did not stand up to broken eggs  or a good shot of poop. Every now and then the wood in the box was dirty with something nasty and it is so hard to disinfect. I still am not convinced its clean enough, even after a diluted bleach solution spray. We needed an easy clean nesting box! And the poop deck…….what can you say. It didn’t go all the way to the back wall so poop collected there requiring me to pull everything out, crawl under the roost and clean it out.

Finally, winter is the worst time of the year. The ladies don’t leave the coop when it’s snowing or very wet. There are a lot of big hens taking up space in that coop. They tend to get on each other’s nerves which usually means pecking. We need to give them more space.

Hardware Store Run! We got everything we needed to get the job done. Plywood, screws, a tarp, buckets…..yes buckets. You’ll see…….

The girls got kicked out of their coop bright and early and the door was shut for the rest of the day. All the bedding on the floor was shoveled out into the tractor scoop and dropped into the compost. The whole coop was swept and even vacuumed, all the way to the mesh coverings of the peak vents. Everything was moved from the coop, and I mean EVERYTHING! The heating panels off the walls, the nesting boxes and the roosts. Then came the scrubbing. All-natural non-toxic dish soap for general washing, homemade orange peel cleaner for tough spots and a fresh scent, and finally a light spray with a very dilute bleach solution final disinfection.

Now it’s time to put everything back in. Roosting bars now go on the short back wall. The poop deck is no longer a table. A sheet of plywood is covered with a new tarp and put on a ledger rather than table legs. Now we can slide it in and out easier. And the best part?…..The deck is now notched to reach all the way back to the wall! …..Yay!

And for the grand finale………..plastic bucket nesting boxes!……..Whaaaaat?  You read it right. Buckets for nesting boxes. An egg can break in there and you can wash that bucket out and return it super clean! Ahhhh…..what a relief. But of course the question is, will the ladies use them? Well that’s a story for another day!

See both Before and After videos on their YouTube Channel:

 

 

 

Fall Coop Clean Up

We heard it was potentially going to snow over the weekend so decided it’s time to deep clean the coop to prepare for the winter.

We gutted the coop and I mean EVERYTHING out of it. We took a vacuum to remove all the left overs and dust. You won’t believe how dusty a coop gets!

The old linoleum was yanked out and replaced with a new, thicker version. Hopefully this one will withstand all the scratching and pecking! It was funny to see the ladies find a torn piece and start pulling and tearing it more. A little frustrating, but funny to watch.

A mild cleaner was used over everything and a light chlorine mix for the nasty spots. Luckily there wasn’t much of that.

The nesting pads were removed and replaced and sprinkled with dried herbs. The herbs are said to deter pests but the ladies seem to like the taste too. I like the smell!

Before I laid out new fresh pine shavings food grade DE (Diatomaceous Earth) was sprinkled around the edges of the coop including in the back corners of the nesting boxes to keep pests like lice or mites from taking over. A quick spray of all natural pest deterrent around the doorways and the shaving went down.

The poop deck got a fresh new tarp cover to make it easy to clean, and then the ladies were let in to take a look a their clean new digs!

If you want to take a tour of the cleaned coop, you can see it on the ladies YouTube Channel:

See the ladies checking out their new digs!

 

Protectors of the Poop

We have a daily ritual of cleaning the poop off the deck under the roosts. It should be a quick job but the girls like to make it difficult.

The 3 largest girls jockey for position as the mother hen and cover each other when the other 2 aren’t around. They are very protective of the other chickens. If we pick up a hen and she squabbles, 1 or all 3 of them run up and start pecking our legs!

When we clean in the coop we try to keep the girls outside with snacks or opening their run for free ranging, but some will stay in the nesting boxes or just hang out. When we start scraping off the poop deck those 3 big hens jump on the roosts and give me an ear full squawking like crazy! We can still get the work done but how protective do you have to be over poop!  I don’t know whether to call it annoying or entertaining. You decide. The video below is on their YouTube channel.