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Chicken Keeping Efficiency

 
Matt McSpadden
Posts: 143
Location: Eddington, Maine
40
homeschooling kids trees chicken woodworking
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Hello All,

At the macro level, what do you do to be as efficient as possible when keeping chickens? I am sure I'm not the only person who likes keeping chickens, but has limited time to take care of them. What do you do to make your chicken keeping chores efficient? (Feeding, Watering, Egg Collecting, Egg washing, Nest Box Cleaning, moving pens, Coop cleaning, etc)

At the specific level, I am looking for a way to be more efficient with my water system and the nesting boxes.

I have included a picture of my water system below. I used an old wheelbarrow frame to create it. I can now move it around much more easily than before. That saves times, but the insides still get gunked up far faster than I would like, and it takes far longer and is far harder to clean with all the small pipes than those traditional plastic waterers you get at Tractor Supply. Thoughts on a faster way to clean? Or a different setup so I can enjoy the cleanliness of poultry nipples, while still being able to keep it clean?

As for the nesting boxes, I have 6 of them, and every couple days I add some clean bedding. They kick straw out too quickly, so I am using wood shavings. The chickens don't sleep in them too much, but when it rains they do leak, so it will get damp and things clump at the bottom on one side. Then every couple weeks I have to take a scraper, scrape out every nesting box individually, then re-apply some DE to ward off mites, and re-apply the bedding. Thoughts on making this more efficient? I thought about maybe some sort of removable bottom panel, but maybe there is a better and more simple answer.
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Stacy Witscher
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Posts: 1167
Location: Southern Oregon
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Some questions I have are how many chickens are you keeping, do you have a coop that contains the nesting boxes?

For reference, I have a stationary coop that contains their hanging bucket nipple waterer from PremierOne and three nesting boxes for 10 chickens. The coop doesn't leak so I don't get water in my nesting boxes. I use small animal bedding in my nesting boxes which I occasionally add more bedding to, maybe like once a month. My nesting boxes have a lip on them so the chickens can't easily push everything out. I have never needed to completely empty or scrap the boxes. The waterer gets washed out about once a week, it takes me 5 minutes.

Once a year, I empty to coop and run of debris and add new oak leaves. I collect eggs once a day at 3:00 when I bring them kitchen scraps. My youngest closing them in for the night and checks for more eggs. I don't wash eggs.

The plan is to fence in about an acre for poultry, but currently I just have chickens in a run and I bring them weeds and goodies.
 
Matt McSpadden
Posts: 143
Location: Eddington, Maine
40
homeschooling kids trees chicken woodworking
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Hi Stacy,
So sorry for not including the number of chickens. I thought I had, but must have edited it out when trying to make everything more clear. I have 30 chickens. 1 rooster and 29 hens.

I built a mobile coop with the nesting boxes hanging off the back. You can just them hanging it off the back. The nesting boxes are just a touch small, 11x11 instead of the recommended 12x12 because somewhere I read that if a chicken can't stand up they wouldn't poop. I have about a 3 inch lip on the front of the nesting boxes to try to hold the material in. I was worried if it was much higher, they wouldn't be able to get in or out easily.

That is interesting you do not have to replace the nesting material as frequently. I remember as a kid we did not replace it as often, and it was inside the coop as well. Maybe the chicken's feet are dryer walking across the bedding from outside? Maybe the dampness from the leaking adds to it? I generally add bedding because the eggs are cracking at a greater rate. Maybe I need to make the nesting box deeper. Have like 6 inches of something under the hen.
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Stacy Witscher
pollinator
Posts: 1167
Location: Southern Oregon
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My nesting boxes only have a 2" lip, but they also have a perch for the birds to land on before entering the box. I can't tell if your boxes have the same. Looking at the pictures, I would suggest either expanding the roof to cover the nesting boxes or moving the nesting boxes inside.
 
Bob Waur
Posts: 20
Location: Southwest Mississippi, USA zone 8b
5
hugelkultur forest garden homestead
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My nest boxes are outside the coop and have a sloped lid that extends 3" past the boxes on all sides. boxes are attached to the coop with 3" blocks 4" down from lid to permit it to be opened. I only get a trace of water inside if there is a hard blowing rain. The boxes are 12" X 12" with a 3" lip and are floored with 1/2" X 1/2" hardware cloth and I use dried grass clippings for bedding. The chickens 'rework' the bedding and I only have to add more as it sifts through the wire. No actual cleaning unless a chicken poops and then it binds with the grass clippings and can be lifted out in one clump. This has only happened about twice a month, so it is quick and easy.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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