Jim McCausland, one of Sunset's main contributors to our sister blog, Fresh Dirt, recently posted this nice write-up about a sparkling-clean chicken coop in Bend, Oregon.
The poop hammock at Michelle Tullis' henhouse.
Here at Sunset, we solve the problem of the nightly droppings cascade by having a henhouse with an open-mesh bottom. The whole structure sits on stilts (high enough to prevent a hungry racoon from shooting an arm up through the mesh and grabbing a chicken leg), and the droppings fall through to a straw bed underneath...which we periodically rake out into our compost bin. It's a little less work than emptying a hammock and seems to suit us and our chickens.
Michelle Tullis, the clean-coop owner, also elevates her feeder and waterer so that dust, dirt, and feathers don't get mixed in. Admirable.
Our solution is to simply hang the feeder and the waterer from the top of the coop's roof. It works, sorta. We still get a fair amount of dirt in the water, and twigs and such in the food. So I love the way Michelle has positioned rocks and pebbles around both—no way any chicken can kick up dirt from stone!—and we might do the same. She's clearly spent some quality time watching her birds and analyzing their behavior.
Anything a chicken-owner can do to keep a coop clean is a good thing. It keeps both hens and humans healthy. And helps deter R-A-T-S.