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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chicken Chores

Jessica Walliser
Hobby Farms Contributing Editor

Photo by Jessica Walliser
My free-range chickens sure do make a royal mess!

I once read an article (and I think it was actually in a long-ago issue of Hobby Farms) where the author stated that the term “free-range chicken” really means “crap-everywhere chicken.” Spot on, my friend. 

I love my chickens, but I am so tired of cleaning up chicken poop. We actually had to buy a doggie pooper scooper to try to keep the droppings off the back patio. It’s a daily chore—one I’m getting pretty sick of. 

Earlier this season it didn’t seem so important because the patio was a mess—weeds growing in the cracks, moss all over, leaves and other tree debris trapped in the corners.  But we had it professionally cleaned and power washed this summer, and now it looks terrific—except, of course, for all the doo-doo.  

But what can I do? Now that the ladies are used to roaming around the yard, pecking and picking at their will, it’s hard for me to confine them.  Free range is good, very good, and I like knowing that my six chickens have lots of turf to roam and lead a darned good life. They have three-quarters of an acre that fences out the predators, and they can hang with us whenever they want (which is a lot, since my son is fond of feeding them bread right out of his hand). 

So, I guess I scoop that poop and act like it doesn’t bother me. Most of us certainly do that with plenty of other garden (and household) chores.  When was the last time you heard someone say they LIKE to clean the gutters? Or wash windows? Or scrub the toilets? Or squish slugs? Or clean out the hummingbird feeder? Or collect fallen, rotten apples? Or clean the scum from the pond? Or turn the compost? Or empty the yellow jacket trap? Or scrub the bird bath? Hummm, chicken poop scooping doesn’t sound so terrible right now.  I think I‘ll run out and do it while I’m feelin’ the vibe.  I’m sure I’ll get over it soon.

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Reader Comments
New insite to the term "Free Range".
Carl, L:ivermore, CA
Posted: 12/13/2011 11:29:59 AM
Nice article!!
Amy, Sophia, NC
Posted: 11/11/2011 9:47:45 AM
I sure do appreciate the eggs I buy from the couple who sell them 2 blocks from where I work!!!
Tammy, Livingston, TX
Posted: 11/11/2010 3:48:16 PM
We, too, have always let our layer chickens free range, as well as our ducks (talk about messy!). Despite having plenty of other areas to frequent, one of their favorite hang-out spots for years was our backyard deck. Finally, tired of the mess and constant cleaning, we built a picket fence around the deck with several gates. Problem solved (as long as I remember to keep the gates closed)! The things we do to give our animals a happy life :)
Cherie, Graham, WA
Posted: 9/24/2010 11:50:40 AM
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