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Easy Way to Extend the Life of your Chicken Coop Bedding

Straw isn't cheap, and neither is hemp or pine shavings, so you'll love this way to extend the life of your coop bedding.

Whether you use straw, hemp or shavings, your chicken coop bedding needs to changed regularly.

Ammonia builds up quickly in the coop as a result of the accumulation of chicken poop, and that ammonia can be extremely detrimental to your chickens' eyes and respiratory systems.

Plus allowing your chickens to walk in a poop-filled coop can lead to dirty eggs and roosts. 

Depending on the size of your coop and number in your flock, you may have to remove the soiled bedding and replace it with new every other day, once a week, every other week or once a month. 

Easy Way to Extend the Life of your Chicken Coop Bedding

Everyone loves to cut corners and save money when they can. And I'm no different. So I was excited to figure out this easy way to extend the life of my coop bedding.

Straw costs around nine dollars a bale here in Maine where we are, and I usually use one to two bales at a time in the coop (depending on the time of year), so that adds up quickly.

Enter my 'hack' to extend the life of your bedding.

Did you know --->

UV rays are one of the best ways to kill bacteria, mold and pathogens? Letting the bedding sit in the sun all day is the key.

I choose a nice hot sunny day and rake out all the old bedding into the run (or the yard if your chickens free range).

Since chickens hate piles and love to flatten them, more likely than not, they'll immediately rise to the task and level the pile of soiled bedding in no time. Once they've spread the bedding, you can sprinkle a handful of meal worms or seeds over it to encourage them to continue scratching.

And that's it.  

Over the course of the day, the chickens continue to  poke through the bedding and spread it even more. The sun dries it out.  I sprinkle some coop odor eliminator (food-grade DE or lime) over the floor of the coop and let it sit all day. That will eliminate any residual ammonia smell or moisture.

Just before the chickens are ready to head back to the coop, I rake the now dry, sun-bleached bedding back into the coop (the really dirty stuff, or clumped pieces get composted).  If it's a really hot day, the straw literally looks brand new by the end of the day!

I find I can do this two or three times before I feel the bedding really needs to all be tossed in the compost pile (or used in the run to absorb some of the mud) and a new bale of straw spread on the coop floor.

It's a huge money - and time - saver, and as an added bonus, that pile of bedding to be recycled will keep my chickens busy all day long.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Even if you only use this trick in a pinch if your feed store is out of bedding when you need it, or you can't get there and the coop really needs refreshing, it will definitely buy you a few days with the current bedding.

And if you don't feel one day is enough to completely dry out the bedding, replace it with new bedding and after a few days, rake up the old, dried out bedding and set it aside and rotate it with the bedding now in the coop.

Or leave the old straw in the run. It will help keep your run dry and get your chickens up off the cold frozen ground in the winter and off dry hard-packed dirt in the warm months.

Update: recent studies have seemed to show that beneficial microbes thrive in chicken coop litter and can help to battle Salmonella. They recommend leaving soiled litter to sit for two weeks before rotating it back into your coop. 

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