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Treating Bumblefoot in Chickens

bumblefoot

Bumblefoot, in poultry, is something that occurs more frequently in moist warm conditions. Just the kind of weather we experience on the East coast most of the summer.

Think about it this way. Your hands are never fully dried and your skin gets soft and somewhat fragile. The skin on your hands is soft and you are working around rough items in the yard. The next thing you know, you get a splinter! But you can’t pick it out of your hand…. because you are a chicken! You don’t have tweezers or thumbs so the splinter just sort of festers and works its way into your soft skin.

Dirt and germs go along with  the splinter and the next thing you know the germs have taken over. An infection has brewed inside your skin but the spot where the splinter went in, has healed over. Now what?

Bumblefoot- How it happens….

treating bumblefoot

That, of course was  an analogy of how bumblefoot can occur. The chicken is walking around in muddy wet conditions. The skin on the bottom of the foot is softened. The chicken jumps off the roost, or scratches in the dirt and ouch! Something sharp penetrates the skin on the bottom of the foot.

Another way a chicken’s foot is susceptible to a bumble foot in chickens infection is the type of roost. If the roost is rough or extremely narrow such as the top of a metal fence, the way the chicken has to grip the roost can lead to bumble foot. Roosts should maintain the foot in a relaxed  gripping position, where the resting chicken’s body covers the entire foot.

Now that we know some of the factors behind a chicken getting a bumblefoot infection, what do you do?

When I took care of the first bumblefoot infection in our flock, I read as much as I could. Most of the information available at the time, recommended a type of surgical procedure using a scalpel to cut into the foot and remove the core of infection. Many in the chicken community still recommend this approach and avian veterinarians if you can find one,  will use this approach.

treating bumblefoot
A foot soak in Betadine solution and vetrycin spray to clean the feet and disinfect

Other chicken websites and chicken caretakers began to treat the infection with out using invasive techniques involving surgery and were having good results. As we often do, I took what I thought were the best parts of each method and have a method that works and that I am comfortable using. Fortunately, bumblefoot infections in my flock are not all that frequent. But I have had success using either method. The non-surgical approach is much easier for most people to stomach though, so I will describe that here.

What to Look For

The first clue that something is wrong may come from observing your chicken’s behavior. Often the chicken will be hesitant to walk on the affected leg and foot. It may hold the foot up off the ground or stay hunkered down on the ground. Upon lifting the chicken up and looking at the bottom of the foot, this may be what you see. An obvious sore or abscess that has formed on the bottom  of the foot. 

Bumblefoot is a Staph Infection.

 When working with a bumble foot infection it is a good idea to wear disposable exam gloves.

First you should gather up your supplies for treating the infection.

preparing supplies for treating chicken wound
I cut the strips of vet wrap and hang them near by so I can grab the next strip quickly.

Here’s what I use:

  • Saline solution to rinse and clean
  • Veterycin wound and infection spray
  • Triple antibiotic ointment (make sure it is the kind with NO pain reliever added)
  • Gauze pads, 2 inch by 2 inch
  • Cohesive bandage cut in long strips
  • Electric Tape
  • Scalpel in case you need it.
  • Tweezers

Find a Quiet Place to Work on the Chicken

Next, you will gather up the chicken and take her somewhere calm to work on her. I usually include snacks of meal worms or some other tasty morsel to sweeten the deal.

A quick tip- When working on a chicken, tipping them upside down and tucking the head and wings under your arm can give you a good angle for working on the feet and seems to calm the bird down.

Look at both feet. Hopefully there is only one foot infected with bumblefoot,  but sometimes both feet will be affected.

Cleanliness!

I like to clean up the foot and start with a clean area. I stood my hen in a mixture of Betadine and Vetrycin wound spray. After the foot bath, I dried her feet and tucked her under my arm to control the wings while I worked on the foot. In this case the infection had abscessed already so I was also dealing with an open wound. I cleaned it out as best I could, not really using the scalpel to cut into the foot but just to clean away the debris and any scab. Tweezers might also be helpful at this point.

bumblefoot

Next I soaked a gauze pad with Vetrycin spray and held it on the bumblefoot wound. I wanted the solution to soak in. I prepared another gauze pad to get it ready for bandaging. 

While holding the clean gauze pad with Vetrycin and triple antibiotic ointment on the wound, grab one strip of vet wrap. Hold the end of the vet wrap strip around the shank on  the lower leg. Bring the vet wrap down and between two toes and back over the top of the foot. Continue wrapping in a figure 8 style through the toes and around the foot ending back up on the shank. I often use two or three strips of vet wrap on each foot.

Bumblefoot

When the wrapping is completed, grab the strip of electrical tape and again, starting on the shank do a wrap that will hold the vet wrap bandage in place, ending up on top or on the shank. The electrical tape will hold the bandage job in place and resist moisture that might allow the bandage to unwrap and fall off. 

wrapping an injured chicken foot

Observe the Chicken for a Few Minutes

Slowly allow the chicken to return upright and set her on the ground. She will inspect the bandage job but should be able to walk normally and scratch at the ground. The bandage will keep most of the dirt from reaching the bumblefoot wound site. 

treating bumblefoot

The bandage should be changed every day and a cleaning done on the bumblefoot wound. Reapply a fresh bandage. After a week you should notice a difference in the appearance of the bumble. It should start to look less inflamed, less swollen and sore  and look like it is healing. Usually, in the cases I have treated, the wound is well on the way to being completely gone within a month’s time. Good routine care is the key, along with observing that the problem is starting to go away and not get worse. If you start to see signs of infection returning, feel heat in the foot and leg and notice the chicken not acting well, you should seek veterinary assistance.

bumblefoot
healing up nicely. notice that the inflammation is gone and the wound is nearly gone

Disclaimer Statement

I am not a vet and any suggestions, or procedures are given just as a farming method of dealing with an infection. Therefor, No guaranteed results  are given or implied  If you don’t feel comfortable treating your own chickens, then you should seek out a mentor or a veterinarian. But, my advice would be to try to learn from the mentor so you can be more confident when an illness or injury occurs in your flock.

Other than an early molt happening, Ms. Featherfoot is healing up nicely!
treating bumblefoot



Foot Injuries in Chickens -Methods That Help Heal

foot injuries in chickens

Properly treating foot injuries in chickens is very important. Cleaning wounds and a bumble foot treatment plan should be started promptly. The chicken may not eat or drink enough if it has a foot injury. This will weaken the bird and could lead to infection and death

A good habit to get into is looking at each one of your animals every day. Learning on the homestead never stops. Every day there is a new issue to resolve or roadblock to scale. Knowing all of your animals, and what is normal behavior for each one, is important and can make a difference in their health or even survival. Keeping a good first aid kit helps you start a bumble foot treatment or clean an injury promptly.

foot injuries in chickens
Chickens are always on the move and need healthy, pain free feet to take them places.

Weird things can happen on a farm, especially when you throw animals into the mix. You may think your fences are pig tight, horse high, and bull strong, you may think that you have built the most secure pen or made the enclosed area extremely safe, but there is always that animal who manages to thwart your best efforts at keeping them safe and secure.

foot injuries in chickens

Most of the animal keepers I know just seem to have a sense of when things just aren’t right. For me, without even consciously thinking about it, I take a head count so to speak. I know my animals habits, behaviors, who hangs out with who, that sort of thing. And here is another example of why this is an important habit to get into.

Finding Foot Injuries in Chickens 

foot injuries in chickens

One evening, I noticed that Mr.Tweet was not walking normally. I went to pick him up and instead of trying to run away he just waited for me to lift him up. Animals know when they need help. This is what I found.

foot injuries in chickens

At first glance I was not sure if it was a wire or thread, but it turned out to be a long shredded piece of plastic from one of the shade covers over the run. It had probably only been on Mr.Tweet’s feet for that day. He had been acting normally the night before and had no signs of being picked on by the flock. But, in that short time, he had managed to wrap the thread of plastic very tightly around his feet and individual toes. This was going to take a few minutes to untangle.

Mr. Tweet and I left the coop area to get some help and to find some scissors.

Not As Bad As Expected

We soon had Mr. Tweet’s feet free from the tangled mess. The plastic had tightened so much in some areas that it was hard to get the scissors in to make a cut.

There was some mild swelling on some parts of his feet but nothing serious. I sprayed his feet with Vetrycin Wound Spray just to be safe. Having a good general purpose antiseptic spray on hand is the first step in treating foot injuries in chickens, or any wound for that matter. I am keeping a closer eye on his feet for now to make sure an abscess is not forming from the tight bands of plastic. I had a feeling he was a little hungry and thirsty since he was not able to run around freely as usual. So I gave him some time with just a few of the hens and some fresh food and water to enjoy without any of the alpha personalities being present.

Soon, he was enjoying the freedom of movement and was acting normally. He seemed ready to head in for the night so we put everyone to bed. In the morning, there were no further issues from the foot entanglement. We are keeping a close eye on his feet to make sure any small cut we may have missed, does not become infected.

DSC_0019

Other Foot Injuries in Chickens 

Bumble foot

Bumble foot is a staph infection of the foot. One of the first signs of this will be the chicken not willing to put it’s foot down or put pressure on the foot while walking. It may walk around a lot less or be hopping around on one leg. Mine often become depressed and just sit in one spot, in the cases I have had to treat. Bumble foot treatment is a specialized treatment plan and requires a good antiseptic wash, and antibiotic cream and lots of gauze and vet wrap to keep it clean.

Educate First

I suggest you find a few videos or articles on Bumble foot treatment before starting treatment. I have described our treatment plan in this article. Everyone has a slightly different method of removing the infection. The end result should be a removal of the abscess causing the pain, and a well healed chicken foot.

bumble foot treatment
a picture of a bumble foot abscess that is doing well healing.

(it’s hard to get a good picture of a bumble foot treatment when you are also holding the chicken!)

Splay Leg in Chicks

Splay leg or spraddle leg in chicks can often be repaired. There are a lot of videos on the internet with directions to make splints, and bandages to secure the legs while the hip joints grow. I liked this out of the box idea from The 104 Homestead using a drinking glass.

Another hatching issue causing foot injuries in chickens is crooked or bent toes at hatching. Forming a small support from a pipe cleaner and securing it to the chick’s foot is often suggested. Both Splay Leg and crooked toes can often be fixed and the chick will grow normally.

Scaly Leg Mites

The tiny mite, Cnemidocoptes Mutans, is the cause behind scaly leg mite. You will first notice that the scales on your birds feet look raised. This escalates until the foot and leg are covered in raised scales and white dusty patches. The mite harbors in the damp chicken litter or bedding and burrows into the wood of the roost bars, waiting for a nice soft chicken foot to happen by.

scaly leg mite

Treatment involves soaking the feet and legs, loosening the scales with a soft brush, and coating the legs and feet in coconut oil or olive oil a few times a week for four weeks. Dust bathes with added wood ash help eliminate scaley leg mites too. You can read more about treating scaly leg mites in this post.

Broken Toes and Toenail Injuries

Broken toes may need to be splinted. A pipe cleaner, vet wrap and electric tape may be all you need in this case. Watch for pieces of exposed chicken wire where your chicken may get it’s toe trapped and need to struggle to be free. Also, if your chickens are very friendly and used to being underfoot while you feed and clean, you could accidentally step on a foot and break a bone.

healthy chicken foot and leg
healthy chicken foot and leg

Cuts and other open wounds can potentially lead to serious infections. Clean the wound with sterile saline, apply a wound dressing and antibiotic ointment. Keep a close eye on it. If it is getting worse instead of better, then a Veterinarian may need to be called for a stronger antibiotic. Keeping the wound clean and dry will go a long way towards not having to call the vet.

Broken toenails and spurs also can lead to limping and further infection. And bleeding can invite pecking at the wound from the flock, since chickens are attracted to the red blood. We use cornstarch to stop bleeding but there are commercial products such as Wonderdust available also. Once the bleeding has stopped, treat the wound as mentioned above. You may need to isolate the injured bird if the injury is more severe and the bleeding recurs.

foot injuries in chickens

Steps You Can Take When Discovering Foot Injuries in Chickens

  • Prepare the materials and first aid products before you catch the chicken. Removing the chicken from the flock causes stress. Reduce the amount of time you will be working on the bird by being prepared.
  • Have a first aid kit ready!
  • Know your individual flock members. You don’t have to pick up each chicken every day to observe for odd behavior that may be the result of a foot injuries in chickens scenario.
  • Stay calm. Your stress and panic will transfer to your chicken. If others around you are not able to stay calm and quiet, move to a more secluded location.
  • Isolate any cases of foot injuries in chickens if the bird is being bullied, picked on or not able to get to food and water.
  • Clean dressings and wounds daily. Wear disposable gloves to protect yourself as some infections are transmissible to humans.
  • Keep products on hand that help with your bumble foot treatment plan

For more information on preparing a first aid kit for your farm check out this post.




Use Chick Starter Feed for Growing Healthy Chicks

chick starter feed

The top concern for new chick owners is choosing a chick starter feed. With so many choices on the market now, there is a lot of information regarding feeding chicks.

It’s natural to want to feed the very best choice for your fluffy newcomers. Every backyard chicken keeper searches for the healthiest chick food available. Many of us also want to feed an organic, whole grain, non-gmo feed, but wonder if it’s available locally and is it necessary?

Chick Starter Feeds are Not Created Equally

In addition to seeking a healthy choice in chick starter feed, you don’t want to waste feed or money. Take a look at the difference between a national brand chick starter feed and a premium feed like Scratch and Peck feed.

The first thing you will notice when comparing the two types of feed is the appearance. Scratch and Peck, whole grain, organic, non-gmo starter feed looks delicious! The whole crushed grains are obvious, the ration is clean, and it smells fresh. Stand back because your flock will notice this too. Chicks and chickens will rush to the feeder when you feed a whole grain, raw, unprocessed diet. They know what good is!

The Widely Available Option

In comparison, large brand name chick starter crumbles are tan, like the color of sand. A lot of research and development goes into the making of these recognizable brand name feeds. They are designed to deliver the basic nutrients to your flock. Oftentimes though, a quick comparison of where the nutrients come from will speak volumes. By products? What are those? Is corn the first product listed? Corn is a good nutrient for chickens but is it the best? Often more digestible protein can be found in a mixture of lentils and whole grains, such as oats and barley.

Think of it this way. Kids cereal is fortified with vitamins, has many of the daily nutrient requirements for children, and tastes great due to sugar being one of the top ingredients. Compare that to a homemade breakfast of whole grain, pancakes and fresh eggs. Which would you rather feed your family every day? It’s best to feed your chicks a nutritionally superior chick starter feed, too.

chick starter feed

While we might not want to put the same thought into feeding chicks and chickens, remember this. We are what our animals eat.

What Does a Premium Chick Food Offer?

Whole grain organic chicken food brands consist of balanced mixtures of whole grains or slightly cracked grains. The feed offers the protein, carbohydrates and fats along with balanced vitamins and minerals. A high quality food allows the bird to eat all the nutrition they need without wasted by products they don’t.

Eating food closer to it’s natural state provides nutrition that is easier for bodies to digest. Nutrients are lost during processing and have to be replaced with supplements or synthetic forms of vitamins.

chick starter feed

Long Term Benefits From a Premium Feed

Chicks that are fed the best nutrition from day one are going to be healthier and more resilient as they mature.

Here are some other factors that will help you grow healthy chicks from the very start.

  • Provide consistent, age appropriate warmth in the brooder. Have the brooder ready before bringing the chicks home.
  • Don’t over crowd the brooder. Make sure there is plenty of space for the chicks to move around and also stay under the heat source.
  • Provide clean water and chick starter feed 24/7
  • Keep the brooder clean and dry. Clean up any spills quickly to avoid chicks getting damp and chilled.

Nutritional Requirements for Chick Starter Feed

It’s important to feed a starter feed to your chicks because their nutrient requirements are different than grown chickens. First, a protein percentage 18% or higher is necessary growth. Also, look at the ingredients that are listed first. In a whole grain, organic ration the first ingredients are often wheat, peas, barley and flaxseed meal. Less expensive rations are often highly concentrated on corn.

feeding chicks

A higher calcium percentage is not necessary for growing chicks and can be hazardous to their health. No only will too much calcium put a strain on the kidneys, it can also cause accelerated bone growth leading to weaker bones. Calcium should be offered to the flock, free choice, and to chicks after 18 weeks of age.

What about Coccidiostats or Medicated Chick Feed

Medicated chick feed is often used when feeding chicks to prevent illness from coccidia. The medication is a coccidiostat that prevents coccidia from increasing to level that causes illness. Healthy chicks will develop an immunity to coccidiosis if they are not stressed, fed a good diet. A healthy whole grain diet supports a strong immune system and the birds will overcome challenges to their immune systems.

Occasionally, weather conditions will cause the environment to become a perfect breeding ground for cocci. Supporting your flock’s immune system with a good diet and supplements of herbs, apple cider vinegar(a natural probiotic) and garlic (a natural herb with antibiotic properties) can help them fight off the coccidia in the environment.

Calcium and Grit

Both Calcium and grit should be offered free choice. I do not mix it into our feed because not all chickens require the same amount of these two supplements. Roosters do not need any added calcium and non-laying hens don’t either.

The Cost of Feeding Chicks a Premium Food

Yes you will spend more, pound for pound, feeding an organic chicken feed or chick starter feed. The benefit will be in the better health you will see in your flock. Three years ago, we switched our flock from a large national brand of regular layer feed to an organic, whole grain food. Here are my observations after three years.

  • We can feed less feed because the chickens are getting their nutritional needs met on less feed.
  • less waste in the bowls at the end of the day
  • My flock is hardier and healthier, even my older laying hens look robust and are producing.
  • less digestive tract issues such as vent gleet, sour crop, and messy poop butts.
  • Less loss of life due to failure to thrive.
feeding chicks

Fermenting a whole grain feed is easy and a great way to further increase the availability of nutrients and save money. Poultry fed fermented feed will often eat less than when fed non-fermented feed. They fill up faster and receive even more of the nutrients from the grains.

Support the Fast Growth with the Best Nutrition

As chicks grow from hatchling to hen, their bird bodies travel a road of quick transitions. When feeding chicks the best chick starter feed, you are providing the nutrition they need to grow strong and healthy. Join the program A Flock’s Journey for support and information as you wind through the journey of raising chickens.

Healthy chicks fed premium, high quality chick feed from day one will have the best nutrition provided to grow through all the phases of development until switched to Scratch and Peck whole grain layer feed at 18 to 20 weeks of age.




What Herbs Keep Chickens Healthy?

what herbs keep chickens healthy

Can herbs keep chickens healthy? Does herb use increase the immune response in the flock? The answer to both questions appears to be, yes! Chickens love herbs, so dosing them with these natural compounds is an easy task. 

My Top Herb Choices For Chicken Care

If I could only grow a few herbs I would choose Mint, Oregano, Basil, Thyme, Lavender and Sage. As far as chicken keeping and animal care needs, Sage and Oregano are great for intestinal health and to ward off infections from Salmonella and Coccidiosis (cocci). Lavender is an all around great herb for infections, relaxation, odor control, and repels pests. Mint  repels insects and rodents, is a stimulant for egg laying, and the chickens love it. Thyme and Basil are aromatic herbs so they also repel pests.

Thyme and Basil are good for mucus membranes and Thyme is great for keeping the respiratory tract healthy or aid in recovery from a respiratory illness. Knowing that herbs keep chickens healthy is empowering. When I notice a potential health problem, I can immediately start supportive treatment by visiting my herb garden. All in all, most herbs are beneficial and growing them to add to the nest boxes or daily feed is a great idea. Of course humans benefit greatly from herbs too.

 I recommend the top six I mentioned because they are great culinary herbs, in addition to being good for your health. Chickens love to eat herbs but we can still use them in our cooking and health care. In the event of illness, making a tea and adding dried thyme to it, can help loosen a cough and make breathing easier. Thyme is great for respiratory health. I grow quite an assortment of all herbs and dry them in the dehydrator. If I am going to make a lotion or salve, I make an herbal infusion in olive oil. Continue reading to find out how to make an easy herbal oil infusion.

Herbs keep chickens healthy

Adding Herbal Care Into Everyday Life  

Most of the ways I use herbs takes only a few minutes a day. Snipping an assortment of herbs from the kitchen garden, and putting them in a basket to take to the coop is an easy task. I can even perform this job with a coffee cup in one hand! Years ago, I was only growing mint and basil. I had little idea of all the creative and healthy ways to use herbs. Cooking and baking our food with fresh herbs is one reward from growing herb gardens. The other rewards are seeing how healthy and strong my flock of chickens is, since I began incorporating herbs in their regular treats and diet. I have no trouble stating that herbs keep chickens healthy.

herbs keep chickens healthy
Save this pin image for later!

Simple Herbal Oil Infusions

 When I need an infusion of one or more of the herbs, I start gathering the herbs by snipping some each day. It’s better to use the herbs dried so you don’t add excess water to the oil infusion. It won’t take long to dry out a cup of herbs on a drying rack or pop them on the dehydrator tray. 

Using the charts below, you can customize mixtures of herbal infusions for specific issues. Or simply make a fresh herb blend of some of the herbs and add to the coop or feed pan. If you use a chicken feeder, I would suggest adding the herbs to your hens diet separately. Pieces of herbs left behind in the feeder can get soggy and even mold. Be sure to clean up any fresh herbs that are not eaten by the flock.

Drying herbs from your garden is the best way to have a ready selection for winter herbal flock care. Herbs dry easily in a well ventilated area. Electric dehydrators speed up the process and allow you to keep a constant supply of dried herbs for nest boxes, infusions, salve making and cooking.

Simple Wound Salve for Chickens

What you will need:

  1. 2 glass jar – quart size recommended but pint can work too.
  2. quarter cup of each of – Oregano and dried dried plantain leaves, and a quarter cup of one of the following dried floral herbs-choose from calendula  petals, Nasturtium, chamomile, wild violet,or dandelion petals  
  3. olive oil, sweet almond oil or grapeseed oil
  4. mesh strainer
  5. 1/2 ounce beeswax
  6. 1/2 ounce coconut oil
  7. tea tree essential oil
  8. vitamin e oil

Prepare the infusion 

Add the dried herbs to the jar. (always use dried herbs and botanicals when making an infusion)

Pour the oil over the herbs to cover. The quick method for creating an infusion is to set the jar into a pan with a few inches of water in the pan. Bring the water to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let the jar with the herbs and oil sit in the warm water for a couple hours. A crockpot set on low can also be used to warm the water and infuse the jar of herbs and oil.

Strain the oil, using the fine mesh strainer. Add a coffee filter or piece of cheese cloth if you feel it is needed. Save the herbs! you can feed these to the flock as a treat. Extra oil not needed for the salve recipe can be stored in the refrigerator for future use. Label the jar.

Healing salve pictured on the right. The left container is a drawing salve using charcoal and infused oil

Making the Healing Salve

Using a double boiler method described above, melt the beeswax and coconut oil together in a glass jar. Add four ounces of infused oil. 

When the oils and beeswax are completely melted together, add 15 drops of tea tree oil. Add 3 drops of liquid vitamin E or contents of one vitamin E capsule. Vitamin E acts as a preservative.

Have your salve containers ready. Use clean jelly jars, small tins, or other handy containers with lids. Remove the jar from the warm water bath. Quickly pour the mixture into the containers. The salve hardens quickly. 

Use this salve for cuts, scrapes, pecking wounds, bites, and other open wounds. Store in a cool location as the salve will melt if left in the car or in sunlight. 

Always consult a veterinarian if the wound is not improving, worsening, infected and not responding to your treatment. 

Herbal Tip:

Comfrey is an easy to grow herb that can aid soft tissue healing. For sprains, broken bones, and tendon damage, a compress of comfrey salve can be made using the same method. Apply using a compress to the injured area.

Knowing What Herbs Keep Chickens Healthy is Simple 

Learning how herbs keep chickens healthy is pretty simple. Knowing what type of problems cause chicken illness helps you remedy the situation. For example, if you know that weak egg shells can be a result of calcium deficiency or a reproductive tract issue, seeing that Marjoram, Parsley, Mint and Dandelions are high in the properties that improve reproductive health helps you know which herbs to use. Of course, make sure to only use wild plants and beneficial weeds from areas that have not been treated with herbicides or weed killers. Here’s a chart that lists common chicken ailments or problems and the herbs that may help.

Herbs keep chickens healthy

Herbs Keep Chickens Healthy Print out Information 

The four page graphic PDF is my way of organizing  the herbal information. You are invited to print out the PDF, for your own personal use.

To download and begin referring to How to Keep Chickens Healthy , 

herbs keep chickens healthy

Click here.>>>>>  to download a printable copy of this series of Herbal Info for Chickens

For more Do it Yourself Healing Remedies for Chickens, check out my book, 50 Do it Yourself Projects for Keeping Chickens (skyhorse publishing 2018) available through Amazon and local book sellers

Looking for a reputable source for organic herbs for your flock? Scratch and Peck Feeds carries many supplements for your flock in addition to healthy whole grain layer feed. You will smell the freshness the minute you open the bag!

While you’re there, sign up for the Flock’s Journey program.

FLOCK MEMBERS ENJOY…

  • Giveaways and Contests
  • Discounts on Scratch and Peck Feeds Products
  • Engagement Through THE FLOCK Facebook Group
  • Invites to Local Retailer and Scratch and Peck Feeds Events
  • Inspiration for Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens 
  • A Passionate Community of Cluckin’ Good Peeps
herbs keep chickens healthy
The Herbal Starter Kit by the Herbal Academy



Dropping Board -Keeping a Clean Coop

dropping board in chicken coop

How to Keep the Dropping Board Clean

Dropping board is a term used to describe the area directly below the roost bar in a chicken coop. It helps by collecting the manure and keeping it contained so that removal of the chicken manure is easy to complete.

With chores, I always find that the easier they are to complete, the more likely that the chore will get completed. While chickens are sleeping on the roost at night, feces drop from them onto whatever is directly below. Not cleaning up this poopy mess is not adding to the healthy environment you want for your flock.

dropping board

We Made a Beginner Error!

We did not realize this when we built our coop. The manure dropping into the built in nest boxes below was a disgusting problem. I did not look forward to cleaning that mess up every week. The smell of manure would sometimes get pretty bad and some years  the flies were just terrible. I  tried to clean up daily so that the task would never grow too large. I thought there had to be a better way.

How I Made the Dropping Board in Our Coop 

I placed two wide boards across the top of the nest boxes that sat under the roost bar. These boards would serve as the dropping board. Doing  just this helped the problem some, but I still had to clean manure off the dropping board frequently. If I failed to clean the dropping boards daily, flies and odor crept in.

One day I tried laying feed bags on top of the dropping board. The chickens promptly threw the bags on the floor of the coop.

Thinking up a better plan, I smoothed the bags out better, laid them on the dropping board and tucked them in behind the boards, up close to the wall. Pushing the dropping board back to the coop wall anchoring the bags, and keeping them from being pushed to the floor worked better. Now the dropping boards had a lining that was easier to scrape clean.

dropping board

How To Clean and Change the Dropping Board Liner 

Next I generously sprinkle a lime product called First Saturday Lime onto the dropping board liner. This lime product is safe for animals and poultry and is an extra source of calcium for the hens.

On top of the liner I add straw or pine shavings. This adds to the ease of cleanup by absorbing any liquid droppings.

dropping board

I take three things into the coop for a quick cleanup.

  • a bucket
  • dust pan
  • cat litter scoop
cleaning the chicken coop

Use the scoop to scrape the mess off the dropping board and onto the dust pan. Dump it into the bucket for easy removal to the compost area. Replace the entire set up when needed. If you purchase feed in paper bags (not the poly bags), you can add the entire layered mess to the compost bin.

What About Poly Feed Bags

If you use poly bags, you will need to scrap off the bags and remove them from the compost material to the trash. Either way, the process is quick. Keeping up with this clean up routine will greatly reduce the odor and flies in the chicken coop.

dropping board

Alternative Dropping Board Material

We have plenty of empty feed bags every week from feeding the animals on our farm. If you don’t use enough feed bags to try this method, perhaps newspaper would work the same way. Using newspaper, you would have to change it out more frequently than twice a week with the feed bags. You can add newspaper to the compost pile as well. This method might not work for every chicken coop but it has made one job, on our farm, easier to complete.

Messes in the coop are inevitable. Here’s another idea that will help keep your chicken area cleaner.

Peek Into Our Coop 

You can watch this video about how the system is set up .