Just like anything with animals, chicken coops require regular cleaning and maintenance to help keep your chickens in optimal health. One of the simplest ways to make your life easier and cut down on cleaning time is to make a dropping board for the coop.
Chickens poop a lot during the night when they sleep. Most people don’t have anything other than coop bedding under the roost bars. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it requires more cleaning as you have to sift through the bedding regularly or throw it out.
A great alternative is a dropping board.
You can install a dropping board underneath the roosting bars; it does exactly what you think it does – it catches chicken droppings. Instead of chicken poop caked underneath the roosting bars and you needing to clean or change out the bedding regularly, you just clean the dropping board regularly.
When we started out with chickens, we installed an old countertop as the dropping board. You can see it here: Chicken Coop Tour.
I quickly realized that even though I cleaned it at least twice a week, the chicken poop would stick to it and require regular scrubbing with vinegar in order for it to look fully clean. That was more work than I wanted to do, but it really bothered me every time I looked in the coop and saw the scraped-off, but gross-looking dropping board.
Then I was inspired by a suggestion on a farming Facebook group. Someone suggested using sweet PDZ with the dropping board.
Sweet PDZ is a “stall freshener” for horses, but it works great for chickens too. It works by absorbing and neutralizing ammonia and other odors and is all-natural and safe. You can buy Sweet PDZ at your local feed store or online here. (Not sponsored)
I loved this idea so much that I convinced my husband to help me redo the dropping boards in the chicken coop.
We ripped out the old version (we needed to add more roost bars anyways since we now have more chickens) and installed both new roosting bars and dropping boards.
Nate made the dropping boards by using plywood as the bottom and scrap pieces of wood to go around the outer edges. This formed a ‘tray’ to keep the PDZ from spilling out.
We also added some cheap stick on tiles to make cleaning easier in the future. This is totally optional though and probably not necessary.In our bantam chicken coop, we have an almost identical set of roosting bars and dropping boards without the stick-on tiles and haven’t had any issues with the plywood getting gross.
We use the granular version of sweet PDZ as the powder is too dusty. None of my chickens have ever even tried to eat it though I do have a friend who prefers the powder kind because her birds are a little too curious about the granular. This is a personal preference.
Once your dropping boards are built, pour the sweet PDZ over it.
When we first started, we used quite a bit of PDZ, but I later realized that more PDZ = more work in scooping the chicken poop out. Now we use just enough PDZ to cover the bottom of the dropping boards and it works out perfectly.
You’ll need to scoop out the poop from the chicken dropping boards regularly. We use a cat litter scoop and do it once or twice a week (it’s a great chore for the kids).
Bug Repelling Essential ↓
We scoop the PDZ and chicken poop out into a bucket, then carry it to the compost pile. We do have to replace the PDZ every so often, but it actually does last for quite awhile, especially when you don’t use a ton on the dropping board.
I took these photos after we had been using the dropping boards for about a month, so that’s why it’s not perfectly clean. “Used” dropping boards gives you a better idea of how it truly works anyways.
You might have noticed a little poop on the roosting bars; I still pull out the vinegar and scrub brush once a month or so to clean those.
With these chicken dropping boards in place, the rest of the coops requires very little maintenance. There’s hardly any poop at all beyond the dropping boards and I love it!
Another great advantage to using Sweet PDZ with a dropping board is any odors are drastically reduced. Even during hot summer days, our chicken coops never once smelled badly.
If you haven’t made a dropping board for your chicken coop, I highly recommend that you do so; it really does work!
Well this will be super handy when we get land!! Thanks
Wow that seems easy enough, will have to share this with those needing to make a dropping board for their chickens!
Cathi Crismon says
What a clever idea! I don’t even remember what I did many moons ago when we had chickens. I know it wasn’t as clever as this!
Interesting problem solving going on there. It looks like you have a lot of chickens, so you probably really needed a great solution!
Yes it works great. Even if someone has just a few chickens, this is a great solution.
Love this and will give it a try…right after I talk to hubby about it?
This is a great solution. I bet you’re thrilled to have nearly all the droppings contained and not all over the place!
Oh wow! I need to do this for my Gram. She has a ton of chickens and cleaning up after them is really tough.
I am very interested in having backyard chickens, and it’s posts like this that bring me closer to its reality! I have never read so much material as I have on raising chickens, and it’s s community I definitely want to play a part in!
Just trying to decide now if I should wait till Spring and spend the winter gaining the supplies!
I look forward to being a part of the chicken “family”!!
How wide is the droppings board, assuming it is centered under the 2×4 perch?
Thanks so much for this info. I have just added 2 new chickens to my flock, now I have 4. We only have a small coop prefab that has a tray under the roosts. The other part that’s enclosed is the nesting boxes. That’s the upstairs. The downstairs is like a small run, but they have a bigger covered area to run plus they free range.
Will it be okay to put the PDZ in the small roost area that I have pine shavings in? My new chicks are now 7 and 8 weeks old.
Same here! I have 3 chickens… and they are almost ready to start laying. I’m wondering if I can do this also…?
Absolutely you can set up dropping boards anytime.
How wide are your dropping boards? How far away from the wall is the perch? Your coop looks a lot like mine!
They are about 2 feet, maybe 3 feet wide and they fit right up against the studs of the coop.
Love this idea! How wide is your dropping board?
It’s about 2-3 feet. If you need exact measurements, I’ll have to bring a tape measure out. 🙂
Can you use non-scent cat litter in the dropping board?
I’m not positive but I seem to remember reading that cat litter was not safe for chickens. They might eat it? You’d probably want to look it up further.
I seen someone that didn’t like the PDZ option and said it was messy and dusty. Is this option still working for you and have any others had success with this?
Yes, we still use PDZ and it works great. The key is to get the granule PDZ. There are two types – granules and powder. We use granules because the powder is a bit dusty.
You can also use sand. PDZ and sand are not harmful to chickens
This was a very good article …. my chickens are moving from an old shed to a new Portable building with a ceiling fan and air conditioner for our hot Texas summers. I am going to build this fecal catch box, but I will use beach sand. We always have a nice pile of sand for projects around our farm. I stopped using the highly scented, dusty clumping cat litter and started using the beach sand. Sand doesn’t stifle your lungs or the animals highly sensitive noses and lungs . Thank you for making my life simpler !
Hi, How do you keep them from roosting on the edge of the board with their rear ends over the ground instead of over the board? Thank you.
Chickens naturally prefer to face the open area when they roost, plus they like to be higher whenever possible as it’s safer, so they shouldn’t roost over the ground. I’ve never had mine (50-100 chickens) do that before. They always sit “properly.” 🙂
Shelly Niswonger says
I love this idea!!! I am getting ready to convert an old shed (that happens to be connected to our current coop) into an addition to our current coop as our flock has grown and we need more space for them inside and out! This is by far the best idea I have seen to maintain a coop easier than shavings and a shovel! Thanks for the great idea!!
So the chickens roost in the dropping board area? How high off the ground is this? Thanks!
They roost above the dropping board. The dropping board is about 2 feet off the ground and the roosting bars another 8-12″ or so. (We’ve moved since I wrote this post and are updating our coops this summer.)
Debbie Sheegog says
Hey, thanks for your helpful posts shared here!! All of my favorite chicken houses’ design ideas that we have seen online had something beneath the roost serving as a “pootie field”, and now I see why! There will be no turning back unless we use a different kind though we are working w/ the helpful removable (though I scrape it every other day) heavy, plastic tarp that hangs on just enough of an angle (not flat) to let the “pooties”gently fall and roll into the little “ditch” it creates at the bottom, no overflow. It extends below from the the back wall behind their tail feathers to a bit beyond the bottom 2nd rung. It’s removable for cleaning. Adding handfuls of the lightly fragrant pine chips along the bottom edge that we scrape out makes that chore much more pleasant. We keep it contained by using a closed, oversized heavy trash bag kept in the chicken house til we take it on the trash run. We are keeping the rest on the floor, there is hardly any, stirred up mixing it w/ the pine chips/shavings and hay (some also use D. E.) so whatever they may leave behind early a.m. or after sunset is raked and mixed, no wet spots, no smell! Hoping the deep litter process continues to be successful. They are outside roaming the yard of the farm. Best regards, and stay well!
Hi Debbie, great setup! I’m sure that will work well for you. Very creative too! 🙂