We cleaned out the chicken coop this weekend. It was a beautiful weekend for working outside. A little chilly, but it made us work a little bit faster as well! We are using the deep litter method for our chicken house. It seemed like the best idea for us, and obviously the least amount of work.
What we do is we fill the floor of the house with pine shavings. I know a lot of people use straw, but we like the pine shavings. When they scratch the litter down, then we add more pine shavings. It freshens everything up, and the chickens are always happy to scratch away at the new bedding. I was then able to take the old bedding and spread it all over the garden. It should give a good amount of fertilizer to my garden space, and then in the spring we (meaning Matt) can rototill the garden and just turn it right into the soil.
The ease of the deep litter method was the first reason that I chose that for our chickens, and the second is the ability of the bedding to act as insulation in the winter. We really do not want to heat the chicken coop over the winter. I have talked to several people that do, and several that don't around here. The two farms we would buy eggs from do not use light, or heat lamps, but they also have more chickens than us.
As of right now it seems to be pretty warm in there. We have had a few chilly nights, and when I go into their coop to let them out and fill their water up, it is like a blast of hot air when I open the door. I don't know how this will be as the days and nights get cooler, but I am very hopeful that we won't have to use the heat lamp. It is a danger that I am not sure I am ready for!
The other chicken related thing we did this weekend was put a top over their run, so they can't jump out of the fenced in area. It is not my first choice to keep them in the run all day, but we had a little incident with the neighbors dog this weekend. One of my chickens got nipped in the comb, there was a bit of blood, and a very scared chicken. She is fine, and the others seemed to leave her alone. But, it made me realize that we need to keep them in that run until we can get a fence around our yard - which will be moving higher on the priority list for spring.
Overall a very productive weekend, which was nice. Of course I still have to plant my garlic...and I might need to do that today. However, with temps only in the high 30's, it won't be as exciting as I hoped for! My goal is to move very quickly :-)
Do you use the deep litter method for your chickens?
Linking up at the Barn Hop, Your Green Resource, Rural Thursday
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