Chicken poop

Your friend is forgetting to factor in the single biggest factor of chicken ownership:

How long will it be before he’s sick and tired of cleaning the poop out of the coop?

I’m betting he’ll soon be buying eggs in the store.

Huh. Raking out the chicken coop is one of my simpler chores. They’re outside all day and the fecal matter is primarily under the coop’s roost. Two minutes every few days, and the manure perks up the compost pile.

My aunts have half a dozen in a small coop and I don’t recall seeing any mess or them complaining about cleaning it up. I always assumed the litter problem was mostly from the large scale industrial locations.

So far, in my layer chicken venture, the poop hasn’t been that big of a deal. It’s been 10 weeks since I brought home thirteen (the dozen I ordered, plus one freebie) day old chicks, and I’m about $100 into it, with no eggs in sight for another two months. Local price for a dozen free range eggs is $3, so I figure the girls owe me 33 dozen eggs so far, not including the labour I’ve put into keeping them alive. On the other hand, I like my pretty chickens, and like going out to the coop to take care of them and take them treats. I also like the idea of my own eggs, from my own happy chickens living a decent life with access to sunshine and fresh air and room to move about and do chicken things. It would be nicer if they could be free range, rather than kept in the coop, but too many predators (foxes, coyotes) make me worry about their safety in the big wide world.

So back to poop. I line the nest boxes with dried grasses and scoop out every week or so. It gets tossed in a pile to turn into compost. So far, I put a bale of shavings in the inside area of the coop and haven’t yet stripped it back to floor. Maybe before winter I’ll do that. More compost.

My mom has a few chickens, too, and she doesn’t have to clean out the coop very often, either. The catch is that, when you do need to do it, you really can’t put it off, because if you leave it too long, it stinks to high heaven.

Great fertilizer, though.

Oh, and even without accounting for the eggs my mom, my uncle, and I consume, the ones she sells to neighbors (at $3 a dozen) are enough to cover all of the ongoing costs (feed, water, oyster shell, lighting, occasional hen replacement, and heating in the winter) several times over.