Chicken Coop Essentials

chicken

Your adult chickens will need the following to stay safe, healthy, and productive:

 

 Clean Flooring/Litter

Chickens technically do not urinate. They pass urine with their feces. Keeping this ammonia smell at bay is important for odor control and the health of your chickens. Wood shavings, wood chips, sawdust or straw all work well inside the coop for easy cleaning and good hygiene. Many local chicken owners like using sand as the run floor due to our rainy climate. You can pick up chicken poop on a daily basis, every other day or even weekly – it depends on your preference as well as the size of your coop and the number of chickens you have. Replace all litter with new litter every month to every three months, again depending on the size of the coop and the number of chickens. Some people use the ‘deep litter’ method, adding new bedding over the old and letting it build up over time. As it slowly decomposes, it heats the coop up and keeps the chickens warmer. This method involves less frequent cleaning, however, wear a mask and keep children away from the coop on cleaning days to avoid inhaling dust.

 

 Food and water

Most people use chicken layer feed or pellets. Use a dispenser that triggers food each day in a specific amount. Additional dispensers for grit or oyster shell are useful, too. This provides enough food for your chickens so you can leave for a weekend, but have a neighbor check on them anyway. Hanging feeders tend to be less messy and create less waste. Chickens also need access to fresh water daily.

 

 Treats

 This includes fruit, yogurt, vegetables, cottage cheese, bread, bugs, chicken scratch (cracked corn, milo, wheat), flax, sunflower seeds, etc. Some owners let chickens eat most of their kitchen food waste, and in turn add the chicken manure and bedding to their compost pile. Too much food scraps can attract rodents though so feed only what will be eaten in a day.

 

 Lighting

An electric light source is a necessity to trick your hens into laying. Light bulbs can also keep the coop warmer in cold weather.

 

 Ventilation

 This is the most important piece to odor control. Make sure there are secure windows in your coop for cross ventilation. They should stay open even during the winter months to help keep your coop odor-free.

 

 Yearly Sanitation

This requires the removal of everything in the coop, once a year, so you can give it a ‘top to bottom’ scrub down. It’s also a good idea to thoroughly clean the waterer, too. Again, wear a mask.