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Fresh as Daisies

November 5th, 2013

This past Saturday I cleaned out the chicken coop. I follow the deep litter method here, as outlined in Harvey Ussery’s book The Small-Scale Poultry Flock. Once a year, usually in the fall, I clean out the coop. That happened last Saturday and now it’s fresh as daisies.
Cleaning the chicken Coop 3
I actually enjoy cleaning out the coop because I know I’m harvesting loads of great manure for the garden. This year I put the bedding onto my asparagus bed. Once I spread this out I’ll add an additional layer of shredded leaves on top to help speed the decomposition of the shavings.
Cleaning the chicken Coop 1
When I clean out the coop I always wear a respirator, these things come in handy for a wide variety of chores around the house. I love this one because it works for fumes and dust – it’s also comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Cleaning the chicken Coop 2
The chickens are always very curious when I’m cleaning out the coop, they like to come in to see what I’m doing. No doubt they’ll appreciate the nice clean bedding and I appreciate all the valuable garden fertilizer they provide in addition to eggs.

What’s your favorite garden fertilizer?

8 Comments to “Fresh as Daisies”
  1. Joan on November 5, 2013 at 7:40 am

    I like cow manure – it doesn’t have any weeds and seems to work great! Of course all I have are horse (very weedy!) and chicken (fairly good). I usually get a large load of cow manure dumped off every spring. This year I got some alpaca poo, which appears to be a great soil conditioner but I’m not sure how rich it is.

    Reply to Joan's comment

    • Jennifer Fisk on November 5, 2013 at 9:03 am

      Alpaca is very good but not everyone is able to get it. You’re lucky.

      Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  2. Nebraska Dave on November 5, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Susy, cleaning out the chicken coop was not one of my favorite things to do. We didn’t have laying hens so cleaning out the chicken coop was done in the summer heat. That was always my contribution to the Sunday chicken dinners. I sure loved the dinners but not so much the cleaning of the coop. I don’t think the poo went on the garden. It most likely went in the spreader along with the cow poo when Dad cleaned out the barn. All that poo was spread across the fields. Dad never used commercial fertilizer on his corn or beans. He always did crop rotation with four crops. The crops were corn, beans, oats, and alfalfa.

    My favorite fertilizer for the garden would be horse poo if I could figure out a way to haul it in my truck without getting it stinky. My friend has Arabian horses and told me I could have all I wanted for free. With 20 some horses, he generates allot of fertilizer. The next best would be yard leaf/grass mixture chopped up by running it through the lawn mower. Great stuff for mulch that breaks down into compost.

    Have a great garden prep day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

    • Jennifer Fisk on November 5, 2013 at 9:11 am

      Be careful with horse manure. Horse people use super high quality weed free hay. Sometimes the hay fields are treated with a fertilizer, can’t remember the name, that contains a weed killer. When the manure is applied to gardens, the veggies don’t grow and the affects last many years. You could probably find out from the hay producer if the fertilize the fields and what they use.

      Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  3. Jennifer Fisk on November 5, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Now you’ve inspired me to clean my hen house. I was thinking of not doing it until spring but today is the day. Last year I got 10 wheel barrows full out of it. Does the nitrogen in the manure give the shavings enough to break down without taking any from the soil?

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  4. amy on November 5, 2013 at 9:23 am

    How funny… my youngest son….age 12….who is the shepherd in our home cleaned out his chicken’s house this past weekend too. The chickens get so excited thinking something good is going to be found underneath all that mess. He cleans his house out several times a year….He is much more fastidious about that than I ever was. As for poo we have several kinds…..chicken, rabbit, horse and goat. I don’t really think about it……I use whatever it may be in compost….on gardens….in cold frames and hot beds. I probably should think about the benefits or faults of each a little more but I wont:)

    Reply to amy's comment

  5. S on November 5, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I just did the winter coop clean this weekend too! My last and littlest hen is moulting and looks so pathetic, it felt really good to give her extra warm bedding and a clean fresh coop with lots of treats.

    My husband has started home brewing and the spent grains seem to be great for my compost bin–lots of enzyme activity which breaks down fast and I think makes the compost even better fertilizer too! (I use them for baking and chicken treats too.)

    Reply to S's comment

  6. Chris Jones on November 7, 2013 at 11:49 am

    When I used to have chickens, we always did the big clean-out in the Spring. I used the deep litter method too, but was told to leave it alone for the winter, because the heavy layer of litter and manure provided extra warmth for the chickens during the cold months. The clean-out in Spring also made more sense to me due to the increased frequency of egg laying during that time of year. (less chance for eggs to get dirty) I sure miss those chickens!

    Reply to Chris Jones's comment

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