Chicken manure is made up of feed residue, intestinal bacteria, digestive juices, mineral by-products from metabolic processes, and water. In fact, 85% of chicken droppings, by weight, is water. This leads to issues with humidity and odor. So what are the options for managing manure?
One option is to complete thorough cleanings of the coop more than once a year. This will control the odor and fly populations.
Another option is to pasture the chickens. Moveable shelters are a valuable tool for pasturing chickens and reducing cleaning time. Simply move the location of the house when manure begins to build up. It offers new space for chickens to graze and peck, and free fertilizer for the lawn!
A third option is composting. Composting can be done right in the chickens' bedding. To start this process, lay down about 4 inches of bedding. Regularly stir up the bedding to prevent clumping, and add fresh bedding until it is 10 inches deep by winter.
Continue this process until the bedding gets 12 to 15 inches deep. At this depth, composting actively begins and after 6 months can kill harmful bacteria. This composting releases heat, which keeps chickens warm in cooler months and attracts natural fly predators. To maintain the compost, it must be stirred regularly to prevent crusting. The same process can be done outside of the coop in a separate bin.