The cold winter has taken a toll on egg production and on the cleanliness of the coop. I use the deep litter method. For you non chicken raisers, that involves starting with a very clean coop, putting down a few inches of pine shavings or fine straw, then piling dry straw, leaves, etc on top and stirring it up every day or so like compost, adding more straw or leaves as necessary. If this is done correctly, there is no odor and in the spring, you have a coop full of hot compost to add to your pile for further decomposing. Because we have hay fields and they are mowed and baled each year, I squirrel away 2 round bales that are stored near my coop and covered with a tarp for use in the coop. I know, you aren’t supposed to use hay, but so far I haven’t had any problems. Because hay generally isn’t as dry as straw, I do have to fluff and turn it daily and keep all ventilation holes open whenever the temperature is above freezing, but because of the cold and snow this year, the birds are spending more time indoors than I would like. As a result, it has been harder to stay on top of the turning and fluffing.
It isn’t spring yet, but I was beginning to detect odor and knew that something needed to be done. Leaving the compost part in place, I removed most of the hay from the coop and threw it in their run. Pulled out the last of one of the big bales that had gotten very dry and added a new thick layer in the coop.
The chickens are very curious whenever I am doing anything inside their coop and they always come to supervise. They lean out the open doorway, peck around in the corners, and get just where I need to be. As soon as I put an armload of hay down, one would push it around and make a bowl shaped nest in it. I would shoo one away to put hay down and another would be there. By the time I finished layering new hay in the floor of the coop and under their perches. Removed and replaced the old hay from their nesting boxes, I had about half of them in the coop making “nests” in the floor of the coop and trampling down the fluffy new hay.
I’m betting that today’s egg collection will be an Easter Egg Hunt throughout the floor of their coop. Funny birds. I just wish spring would come so that the egg production picks up. At least I have gotten eggs all winter.
Live is an adventure on our mountain farm.