Now that the weather has taken a decidedly nicer turn, it’s time to do a little bit of spring cleaning. First on the list was the chicken coop. We started off the fall & winter with a real shortage of bedding for the chickens. That meant that the chicken coop’s bedding pack was a little light on carbon (hay, straw & corn cobs) which makes for a very smelly mess once it all thaws out in the spring. Our late-winter additions of bedding just served to form an impenetrable mat on the floor of the coop.
It was clear that it was going to take some effort to clear it all out.
Thankfully, we built in some cleanout-friendly features into the coop, namely these big roosting “ladders” that swing up and latch to the ceiling.
Chickens tend to relieve themselves quite thoroughly at night when they’re on the roost. With the roosts up out of our way we can get at the manure underneath much easier.
But how should we loosen all that manure and bedding up to make it easier to shovel out the door?
We thought that a generous sprinkle of corn ought to help.
Corn and a few of our snout-tastic friends.
After a full morning of hoovering up all the corn, the pigs had moved on to other piggy activities, leaving us with a little less work to do.
They didn’t have much time to really do much rooting, but sharp little pig feet helped break up the manure and bedding.
I think this will really work well when we have an egg-mobile to move the chickens into in the spring. With the chickens moved out, the pigs could be moved in for a few days, where they’d really have the opportunity to do some rooting.
The only trouble the pigs caused was knocking over one of the Mega-Waterers. Not a huge deal because it was almost empty, but it did make a bit of a sloppy mess in the immediate area.
We did make sure to only allow our ~100 pound feeder pigs in the coop. Full-grown pigs would have certainly found ways to destroy or damage a lot more.
There were many loads of nitrogen-rich manure that were taken out to be spread on our weakest pasture. This was not aged manure, so it will burn any grass that it’s spread on. We just happen to have a spot that’s going to have some dirt worked up soon. Once it’s mixed in, it should improve the soil quite a bit.
After the addition of several new bales of clean straw, the chickens are ready to reclaim their coop.
The cows stopped by to admire the new digs, but the chickens were far to busy scratching in the new straw to care.