Undoubtedly, maintaining and cleaning a chicken coop is not an easy task. Chickens create a lot of waste. As a result, droppings build up under the chicken roost, which makes the floor and the bedding dirty and quite difficult to properly clean.
To overcome the challenges of thoroughly cleaning a chicken coop and maintaining it up to the highest hygienic conditions, you can use a dropping board. It decreases the frequency of thorough cleaning and makes the cleaning faster and easier.
Unless you’re planning on having your chooks in diapers, setting up a suitable method to catch the poo is your best bet.
Before diving into the various dropping board ideas for the chicken coop and their several benefits, let’s learn about what exactly a chicken coop dropping board is or, as some call it, a “chicken coop poop board”. For this article, we’ll refer to it as the former term?
What is a Dropping Board?
A dropping board is a tray that is placed below the chicken roost to catch droppings, especially at night when they roost. In this way, the chicken droppings do not get deposited in the regular coop bedding. The purpose of using a dropping board is to reduce the frequency of an entire coop cleaning.
Instead, you will just have to clean the dropping board more regularly, which is a very easy and quick process. Generally, it takes only a few minutes to clean the board once or twice a week.
It is a rectangular sheet of wood, plastic, or metal that keeps the floor covered under your chicken roost. Wooden dropping boards the most commonly used because they are easily removable. Over time, many different designs of the dropping boards have emerged.
A removable tray is one of the most popular dropping boards used nowadays because it is easy to manage.
Below is a picture of a removable tray.
Just remember to clean it out before the level of droppings gets above the edges of the tray! As mentioned earlier, about one or two cleanings per week should be adequate.
Cleaning the Dropping Boards
You may have to install more than one dropping board if you have a larger coop. It should take just a couple of minutes to clean a dropping board.
A good thing about a dropping board is that you do not have to remove the entire board for every cleaning. Instead, use a kitty litter scoop or trowel to remove the droppings from the board and dispose of them.
After two to three months, you should remove the dropping board and thoroughly clean it using an appropriate cleaning product. Dry it completely, add new litter, and place it back in the coop.
Design of a Dropping Board
There are many possible designs of a dropping board because there is no specific standard. People use a lot of materials to create dropping boards for their chicken coop. Flat plastic trays, fabric hammocks, old wood pieces, and counter-tops are all some of the many common dropping boards.
However, there are some general guidelines that you should follow before buying a dropping board or even designing your own.
Remember that the purpose of a dropping board is to keep the chicken coop clean and catch the droppings; hence, its design should be able to provide these features. A dropping board should be:
- Wide enough to catch the droppings that fall when the chickens are roosting.
- Covered with an appropriate material like stick tiles or plastic vinyl for easy cleaning.
- Filled with sand or other litter material to absorb the moisture. It also facilitates scooping and scraping of the droppings.
- Have edges to keep the litter material inside the board.
- Easy to handle and manage so that it can be easily placed under the chicken roost and can be removed at any time for easy and quick cleaning.
Benefits of Droppings Board
Other than the obvious advantage of making cleaning an easy process, using a dropping board for the chicken coop has many other advantages as well. Some of them are:
Identify Health Issues
Identifying health issues in your chickens can be very challenging. With a droppings board, you can easily find out if one of your chickens is sick by observing the overnight droppings.
We won’t get into a major discussion on what chicken poop can tell you about the health of your chicken, but if you see worms, extremely runny poop, or other issues, it may be appropriate to consult a Veterinarian.
If you do not use a dropping board, the droppings would be buried in the bedding of the floor, and it may get too late before you realize that your chickens are ill. Therefore, dropping boards make the identification of health issues faster and easier.
More information about chicken diseases can be found here.
Better Hygienic Conditions
Undoubtedly, a dropping board tremendously improves the hygienic conditions in the chicken coop—less moisture in the coop results in a cleaner, healthier environment. Moreover, you can easily clean the chicken coop since all of the droppings will be in the same place, so you don’t have to clean the entire floor every time.
Using (and cleaning) dropping boards improves the air quality in the chicken coop, helping maintain a healthy respiratory system in your flock.
Less Odor and Flies
Due to less waste and better hygienic conditions, there will be very little odor and flies in the chicken coop, especially during the summer.
If you use a droppings board for the chicken coop, it will greatly reduce the frequency of a complete coop cleaning. As a result, you will save a lot of money on bedding, and a lot of time cleaning.
It’s easy to get creative when it comes to chicken coop dropping boards. This video describes how old feed sacks and other items can be used.
Where Can I Find One?
Many chicken coops come pre-built with a droppings board incorporated into the design, which is helpful. You can also find them at Valley Vet Supply, Blaine’s Farm and Fleet, or Amazon.
However, it can easily be made using other materials you can buy or may have in your home or garage. Any materials that can be easily cleaned or have a smooth surface will work. Below are a few ideas we came up with.
- Corrugated tin Sheets – these also come in plastic material. These can be cut to the size you need and are washable. Buy one at a big box store, hardware store, or online.
- Wood – plywood is the easiest as it can be cut to the dimensions desired.
- Cabinet Drawer – Grab one or two from an old dresser you’re not using any longer.
- Linoleum – A leftover roll or large piece can be found at stores that sell used or repurposed lumber and other building materials. Cut it to the size you want and place it under the roosts, or glue it to a piece of plywood – the smooth surface will make it easy to scrape off the droppings.
- Large Plastic Tupperware Lid – From Rubbermaid or a similar company.
What If I Don’t Want A Dropping Board?
Depending on your situation, you may not want or need a droppings board. Some coop designs don’t necessarily accommodate this kind of set-up, or you simply don’t want to clean the coop that often. We get that.
So if you’re interested in cleaning out your coop once a year or every other year, you may want to consider the deep litter method. Briefly, this method involves putting a deep layer of bedding like pellets or shavings, on the floor of the coop. As the chickens poop on it, you occasionally stir the droppings into the bedding.
This process allows for the droppings to break down and decompose in the bedding each time they’re stirred into it. We use this method in our coop and it works great at both reducing odors and how often we clean our coop. We clean out our coop about once a year now, and could easily wait two years if we wanted to.
The old manure bedding can be used in the garden for some great compost. However, you may not want to add it directly without some further composting. Read this article to learn more about this process.
Whether you prefer to use the deep litter system or a droppings board for your coop is really just a matter of preference. Both will work great and there are pros and cons of each method.
We hope we’ve enlightened you about dropping boards. By now you should have a good idea if it’s something you’ll want in your coop.
Dropping boards are great and if you have a coop that already has one built-in, you’re lucky. However, even if you don’t have one in your coop, it’s not hard to make or purchase one.
And If the concept still doesn’t sit well with you, consider cleaning the coop out more regularly or simply using the deep litter method.
Thanks for stopping by. Happy Chickening!