March Madness Chicken Chalet Litter Cleaned Out

Chicken Challet written in sand It’s March 24th and we have been having an unusually dry spring in Michigan this year. Normally we have a lot of spring rain by now and rain is what is predicted for the rest of this week. Today it is now or never for the coop litter refresh!

Coop before litter cleaned out USE

The litter situation “before.”

I did what I call a “lick and a dab” clean out of the deep litter in our chicken coop. This litter has been building up layer by layer throughout the winter and consists of sand, pine shavings, leaves, chicken food and small bits of poop.  I do scoop it out everyday to keep it as poop free as possible, but with teenage poultry there are always small bits left. The deep litter method is one way to help keep the coop a bit warmer during the coldest and snowiest months of a rural SW Michigan winter.

Bucket diaganol nice

A few easy scoops out followed by a whisk broom clean out.

Sand filled plain USE

The litter situation after the clean out; fresh and clean.

Early this morning I scooped out the coop using a small camping shovel and then I brushed it carefully out. I let it air out for several hours and then replaced the soiled sand with clean sand. I still plan to do a very thorough clean out this summer when it is warm enough that I can really hose the coop out top to bottom and spray and scrub using the natural orange cleaner I made this winter.

But it was still below zero this morning then I did this project and not only are our outside pumps not turned on yet, I did not want to risk washing out a coop that might not have time to thoroughly dry. Rain is predicted tomorrow and throughout the rest of this week so putting the chickens back into a damp coop was certainly not a good idea.

Sandpile covered USE

Our pile of chicken coop sand after the winter. Covered up it stayed fairly dry.


Sand pile uncovered USEI tossed the old litter into the end of the vegetable garden where the grass and weeds live and where I want the chickens to dig up and aerate the soil.

Now that I have fresh sand as litter again in the “Chicken Chalet” I will go back to using the daily plastic, kitty litter scoop clean out process each morning. And all will be well until the weather turns warm enough for a hose and a scrub.

Small House Homestead, chicken keeper, Donna

P.S. When I put them to bed for the night they freaked. They do not like the sand only/all one color tone coop bottom. I think that maybe the all one color sand looks likes like a bottomless coop and they were definitely afraid to jump in. I had to put some leaves back in to give them the confidence that all was well. Chickens do not like change!


Hauling Sand for our New and Improved Chicken Challet

Yesterday we picked up the sand for our new and improved chicken coop I am calling, “The Chicken Chalet.”

Truck in front of sand piles USE

A mountain of sand sits waiting behind a 16 wheeler truck for filling.

Our coop is so close to being completed it’s really hard for me to not post a picture of it yet (coming soon though, I promise.) We have to put on the final roof board on top, hang the horseshoe (for good egg laying luck of course) screw on the top to the egg laying box and attach the chicken “gangplank” and I think it’s a roll.

Pile and metalthings USE

A pile of washed sand for sale.

This has been a fun project to build together. I did the research, designed the coop, sourced the repurposed materials, and painted the pieces and parts. Gene was the main contractor. He has never built anything like this before so it was a mostly “trial and error” project that took him almost five months of on and off work. For me it was an exercise in patience, because I tend to want projects done now!

Aggregrate sign and plant USE

Aggregate Industries, The Pullman, Michigan branch.

But he did a great job overall and like I said more than once, ‘So a corner needs a shim…no problem, not to worry, it’s just a chicken house not our forever home!’

Gene standing in trailer USEjpeg

Gene standing in the trailer and shoveling sand into the pile.

We ended up hauling this sand ourselves, using a borrowed trailer, after we found out that to hire a dump truck would run $100.00 just for the delivery. And this is in spite of the sand and gravel company being less than two miles way from us. YOUCH!

Pile of snad on tarp USEjpeg

A bout a yard of sand sits on a tarp. This will be covered with another tarp to keep the cats out of it.

Our yard of washed sand cost us less than $9.00 and our hard labor, which is priceless!

Coop pictures of “The Chicken Chalet” and our adopted hens to follow soon, so stay tuned!

Soon to be chicken keeper Donna at The Small House Homestead