...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


poo boards / dropping trays for chicken coops (and a sneak peak at our "new" coop!)

If you have chickens, you already know what wonderful gifts they give you.
They give you love and laughter and great entertainment.
They give you eggs: one of nature's most complete and perfect foods.
When done strategically and carefully,
 they can be wonderful garden tillers:
chickens are mini tractors with wings.

But perhaps the most often overlooked gift from the girls is their droppings.

Yes, their poo. 
It's very rich manure.
It's veritable garden gold. 
Collect all of it that you can, and use it wisely!


We started out using the deep litter method in our first coop,
but we weren't big fans of that. 
(Though in fairness, our coop wasn't big enough to do deep litter properly, so we can't really judge.)

The way it's supposed to work is: 
Droppings fall down into the litter at night, 
and the girls scratch them all around in the day
causing the droppings to sift down through the layers,
ultimately composting in place.

We decided we didn't want to wait that long for compost,
so Bootsy started collecting it by hand.
 She quickly tired of bending over in our small coop,
often banging her head on the way up,
shouting expletives that just made the girls go: bok?
All in the name of collecting our garden gold,
and keeping the coop a cleaner place for them and their lungs.  


After one vicious head bang that may have cost her a few IQ points,
we looked for other ways to keep the coop clean and collect the goods.

Thankfully, we discovered the idea of poo boards online.

Some people use tarps.  Some people install boards.
It doesn't matter how you do it:
the idea is simply to have a catchment system
with easy retrieval.

We installed boards, with a lip on the outer edge, to keep litter in.

The litter serves a few purposes:
- it provides a barrier between the poo and the board, protecting the longevity of the wood
- it absorbs ammonia / smells, keeping the coop air healthier

- it coats the poo, much like kitty litter, making it not quite as icky to pick up

This is our small corner board
(where the old girls who don't like our randy rooster prefer to perch at night, their own mini-flock)

This is our main roosting area and the big poo board.

We made it high enough off the floor so that we could store stuff underneath. 
The girls can hop onto the board, and then hop up to their perches.

Bootsy had the great idea to try out natural kitty litter
for our poo board project.
It works like a charm!
We get Blue Buffalo Naturally Fresh, unscented.  
It's available at Petsmart or online.
It's made from crushed walnut hulls and it's fully biodegradable.
Even if the chickens ate it, it would probably just act like grit in their crop,
helping them grind and digest food.

Since I took these photos, Bootsy also incorporated some bio-char litter into the mix,
which will make for an even more potent gardening amendment.  

So now, when it's time for the morning chores, it's easier than ever:
grab the bucket (an old plant pot),
grab the litter scoop, 
and sift away,
leaving excess litter on the board and putting the droppings in the bucket.
Then do whatever you do with your bucket.  
We toss ours into a big compost tumbler.  

As Mary Poppins would say:
"In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. 
You find the fun 
and 'snap,'
the job's a game.”

Once you're done collecting droppings,
all it takes to make this chore a fun game 
is a few rocks and a rake.

A children's rake works well,
or you can use your hands,
just try to remember to wash them afterwards!

It's so fun to rake patterns into the litter.
It's like a gritty zen garden,
a sort of sand box with a dual purpose.

I find it both soothing and playful.  

The chickens interact with it, 
we interact with it,
the air interacts with it.
It changes all the time.

You can make beautiful swoops and lines and circles
and build up mounds 
like little dunes.

Place the rocks or stones
however the spirit moves you.

Happy raking!

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