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Small Changes

October 16th, 2012

Way back before I even had chickens, I started reading about them. Of particular interest to me, was the deep litter system. Sadly, I cannot implement this type of system in the coop, it has a wooden floor which prevents it. I can however implement a deep litter system in the run.

I’m in the process of doing this. When we arrived the run was one giant mud puddle. As I’ve been working in the garden, all the weeds have been going into the run, along with other dry material. The results are quite remarkable and the chickens are loving it.

The chickens were also happy to roam freely about the garden yesterday afternoon. I’ve been keeping them in their run to keep them out of the potager since I planted seeds. I finally collected enough little bits of fencing from other areas to put around the edible garden. Now my little seedlings will be protected. Eventually, a permanent fence around the potager would be nice.

Another thing I want to work on is growing more food for the chickens. For the same reason I like to grow the food we eat, I just like to know exactly what’s going into it. I won’t be able to do much until next spring, but I did start some flats of wheat grass for them. I plan on doing this throughout the winter to give them something green to eat.

Hopefully in a few years we’ll have a new coop with a dirt floor, a fence around the potager and we’ll be growing more food for the chickens. Until then, I’ll work with what I have and implement small changes here and there when I can.

Are you implementing any small changes in your garden with hopes of bigger changes down the line?

20 Comments to “Small Changes”
  1. Sue from Ky. on October 16, 2012 at 5:48 am

    It’s like starting new with a clean slate. You can use old ideas that possibly did not work so well, to form a new plan.Your chicken’s grass is looking good! Great idea!

    Reply to Sue from Ky.'s comment

  2. George on October 16, 2012 at 6:37 am

    I would love to have chickens, but our zoning does not permit keeping them with less than an acre of property. Pretty stupid. I love taking chickweed and overwintered cole crops to a friend who keeps layers. The hens do love their green snacks. You are making very nice progress with your move.

    Reply to George's comment

  3. Ann on October 16, 2012 at 8:21 am

    My garden is in a constant state of change. A little project here, a bigger project there.

    BTW-I do deep litter in my coop even with a wooden floor. I use the wood shaving type litter which I have found works the best. I watch for it to come on sale at Tractor Supply and buy a huge amount then to keep the cost down. I only do a full clean out of the coop about every 4 months. But weekly I add fresh litter, clean out the nest boxes and fluff up the litter that is in the main coop.

    Reply to Ann's comment

  4. Sue on October 16, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Lovin all the chick info…hopefully someday we’ll have our own.

    Reply to Sue's comment

  5. BeccaOH on October 16, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Interesting. I’ve been doing deep litter on my chicken coop floors for 4 years now. They are painted wood floors. One coop has a layer of linoleum down. I pile clean wood shavings at least 4 inches deep and often add more during the winter. I clean it out twice a year. Around my place I’d avoid dirt floors as it seems to encourage the rats to come.

    Reply to BeccaOH's comment

    • Susy on October 16, 2012 at 11:18 am

      My biggest issue is the inward swinging door that is barely and inch off the ground and the set up of the coop with the roosts being right inside the door. Once we reconfigure the coop we can maintain a slightly deeper litter system on the wooden floor, not nearly the 12 inches recommended.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Allison on October 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm

        Our door swings out of the coop so it doesn’t mess with the litter. The roots are on the far end. If you change it up it should work. We have linoleum also…

        to Allison's comment

  6. judym on October 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

    We put cheap linoleum down (easier cleaning later) on our coop floor and use wood shavings – deep litter method. I scatter a little scratch in the coop since it’ really secure from other critters. This helps the ladies help me with fluffing/stirring around the shavings.I’ve also read (haven’t done yet) that pine needles are good for coop litter. Since I know where to get an unlimited supply for free, I may start mixing them in with the shavings and save some money. The wheat grass idea is terrific. Have to try that! Anything to help the girls stay happy/healthy and save some change is always a good thing. Along with normal cleaning, I sprinkle diatomatous earth (DE) around the coop, nesting boxes and their “sand box” now and then. Supposed to help cut down on lice and any odor problems. Seems to work. Check the girls every day – seem to be doing well.

    Reply to judym's comment

  7. DebbieB on October 16, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Do the chickens eat the green sprouts of the winter wheat, in addition to seeds and bugs?

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

    • Susy on October 16, 2012 at 11:20 am

      Yes the chickens are supposed to eat the green sprouts of the wheat. From what I read, to remove them from the coop before they eat too much of it and let it regrow. The tops are supposed to regrow for about 3 months before they exhaust themselves. It probably depends on the amount/quality of soil used. This is a small scale experiment to see if want to try to do it on a larger scale and to work out any kinks.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Sherri on October 16, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Suzy it all looks really good – what a difference already! Those hens must be happy with deep litter to walk through instead of mud :) All that mud makes for dirty eggs!

    Reply to Sherri's comment

  9. Johanna on October 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Just last year, they finally passed an ordinance that will allow people to raise chickens within my city (Milwaukee). We’re still debating whether or not to take the plunge and start a flock. We have the space, and I think it would be a great neighborhood project, but we’re trying to find out more about the costs/time they require. What’s your opinion thus far?

    Reply to Johanna's comment

    • Susy on October 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      I’d say go for it. You probably won’t be saving money if you think about them as solely egg producers, but the value chickens will bring to your garden via scratching around, working the soil, pest control and manure adds to their benefit and I would say makes them very valuable in the garden. I’d highly recommend purchasing the book: The Small-Scale Poultry Flock, this will give you great ideas and insight into how to get things started on the right foot. I’ll be doing a more in depth review of this book next week. I talked about it on the podcast as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Megan on October 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    I started raising chickens this summer and hopefully the girls should start laying soon. I have read The Small-Scale Poultry Flock and agree it is a great book.We even raised some meat chickens and butchered them ourselves with the help of the book.
    I let my hens free range during the day and found that they love spinach, lettauce and swiss chard. They have now moved on to my kale. Next year I need to plant some for them and keep an area protected so there is some left for me!

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  11. Maybelline on October 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    From earthquake country: remain calm. It was simply a 4.5. You’ll be fine.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  12. Jill on October 16, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    I used deep litter on an unpainted wooden floor. Worked great. The floor never even got damp. I used 100% dry leaves I had collected from the yard, and threw them in whole every now and then. The girls loved it, gave them something new and interesting to amuse them. When you get your door re-hung and the roosts moved, you’ll love it!

    Reply to Jill's comment

    • Susy on October 18, 2012 at 4:32 am

      Good to hear that so many people are doing deep litter in coops with floors.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. Rocky Top Farm on October 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    I throw a lot of things in with the chickens but they free range in our orchard area and I have not thrown weeds in because I thought it may spread the weeds????? Have you not had a problem with that?

    Reply to Rocky Top Farm's comment

    • Susy on October 17, 2012 at 12:18 pm

      From my reading, the heat from their poo should kill the weed seeds. I don’t generally worry too much about weed seeds as I weed often an the little weed seedlings make great mulch and increase biodiversity. I find tilling the soil to be much more likely to increase weed activity as it brings up weeds from the seed bank.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Kiskin on October 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I wanted to share an interesting article that I lately came across about using chickens as an alternative heat source… Maybe you are familiar with this experiment:

    Reply to Kiskin's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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