Last week I wrote about the deep litter method to manage your coop’s bedding. Another popular way to try to minimize the work involved in keeping the coop clean is the droppings board. Also known as a “chicken poop board”, the idea behind this is to put a removable tray underneath the chickens’ roost in their coop. While they’re in the coop, they spend the bulk of their time on the roost. By removing the waste they generate here, far less will be left in the coop proper. The droppings board itself is normally a removable tray, perhaps with soil on it. Alternatively, it can be a flat surface that can be scrapped. The chickens shouldn’t be able to get onto the droppings board, so it doesn’t need bedding material.
This method can be combined with any other approach to bedding, including the deep litter method. The droppings board decreases the amount of waste that gets into the bedding.
The droppings board will be more concentrated waste, which may be a good thing for your compost heap or however you’re disposing of it – you won’t have the increased volume and material from the bedding.
Being able to see the chickens’ waste regularly lets you also see possible health issues – abnormal droppings are often an early indicator of trouble. Additionally, blood and feathers will be easier to see on a droppings board, rather than mixed in with the bedding. This can alert you to fighting, molting, or other issues.
Beyond this, not having to change the bedding as often saves money, decreases the number of flies, reduces ammonia exposure to the chickens, reduces moisture in the coop (which is important for winterization), and leaves you with a cleaner coop.
The droppings board is a shelf that can be removed and dumped or scrapped clean. If you decide to have sand or some other material to make it easier to clean, then it becomes more of a tray. How you install it will be determined by your coop design and how much work you want to have to do to keep it clean. The board should be wide enough to catch droppings from whatever position the chickens are in.
Some droppings board setups have wire to prevent chickens from walking in their waste and to prevent eggs from being laid in it. Others have found that cleaning up the wire is more work than it’s worth.
Chickens naturally like to roost on an elevated perch, so raising your roost to put a droppings board underneath it should make the roost more attractive to the chickens if anything. Hens will fight over the top roost, so it’s suggested to keep the entire roost at the same level.
Scrapping shelves can be done with a dedicated instrument, such as a spatula, sheetrock mudding tool, taping knife, or plastic knife. If you’re using sand, a kitty litter plastic scoop can be used to clean out the waste.
Many enthusiasts who have installed a droppings board would never go without one in the future, so it’s well worth considering for your coop.
Do you use droppings boards? What has your experience with them been like?