Like me, you may well have a bin for chicken supplies. Or, you may be keeping your chickens in a more barn-style coop, where you can have a dedicated storage room or at the least, a high storage shelf or three.
If you only have three hens, and they live next to your house, you may feel perfectly justified in keeping supplies in the garage or near a walk-out basement door. Cool beans, as a friend likes to say. Whatever your storage facility, the below are things that could be handy to store near your flock. Do let me know if you think I’m missing something!!!
What I Don’t Store in an Outdoor Bin
What you don’t want to store outdoors in a non-temperature controlled environment (or in your unheated garage) are any chicken medications. They generally don’t respond well to storage in extremes or major fluctuations of temperature, even if they aren’t going to freeze on you. (Mine are by the back door of my walk out basement.) Obviously, I also don’t keep lard or tallow cakes out there (fridge or freezer works fine, freezer being optimal for ease of removal from the molds you form cakes in).
General Notes about This Bin
My bin has worked out for me very well. It has a heavy lid, that will keep any critter out (bears could lift the lid, but they’re really not that much interested in doing so). This lid comes with a hydraulic lift, which means as long as I don’t have any noticeable snow atop it, I can open the bin and the lid will remain open for me. You could supply your lid with a padlock if you choose. I do get an influx of crickets late summer, but I just scooped them up into the feed and gave them to the chickens… no complaints! However, no signs of mice have been detected. (This would be harder to prevent in a dedicated storage rom or on a high storage shelf.)
My bin’s dimensions are approximately 6 feet by 2 feet. The standard ones offered via the Mennonite source are 4 feet by 2 feet – I added on the two extra feet of length for the sake of having pine shavings there without needing to trundle too much more down in the winter. Plus, 4 didn’t seem enough anyway. Yes, I did have to make a winter run, but I didn’t have to do many of those. As for the height, I have an effective height at the front of the bin of 21 inches, and at the back, of 32 inches. The slope of the lid supposedly helps snow slide off, but that’s what the shovel or broom mentioned below are for. (Or a good swipe with my gloved hands!)
What’s in My Bin Outside
Pine Shavings. There’s also a bundle of pine sawdust – I’d bought these by mistake; the smaller pine bits are really too fine to toss on the floor where chickens will stir them up and inhale the lighter-than-air residues. Not lung-healthy! I find they are fine for me to add to the clean out pan (that poop tray) under the roosts, since the birds are unable to get down into them to scratch. I have enough space to save up to 3 bundles of pine for bedding here, with plenty of space for everything else.
Pooper Scooper. Unlike the ones for cat boxes, this has no holes at the bottom for bedding to drop through. You want it flat on the bottom, too. This is dedicated for Poop Tray cleaning. Nice flat surface scoops the bedding up, along with the droppings nicely nestled atop, plop the stuff in a suitable receptacle, trundle it away to your compost locale, dump, come back,
rinse, repeat… (No need to rinse until you are done, actually. And in the winter, I don’t rinse. Not until I can drag a hose out here for the season.) I keep it on the bedding side of the bin.
Trash Bags. I use this to port the used back end of the chicken raising process towards something I can recycle into compost. I may decide when spring arrives and it is easier to carry a large pail or bucket off to the side, to make one of the pails discussed below, dedicated for this purpose instead. While winter reigns, pails are not yet a good idea for someone with seriously bad knees. I like the heavy duty Contractor Style Trash Bags. You may even find other uses for them. Oh, I also save a leftover feed bag or two (they’re hardy) for disposing of random trash generated down at the coop.
Chicken Feed. To keep the feed fresh with temperature variations, I bring it out in no more than about 25 pound increments. Most important in the heat of the summer, if your spot is rodent-safe, you can store more in winter. I dump it into a large pail that was originally meant to be turned into a cheapo-quicko outdoor garden pot. Since I never got around to putting the drainage holes in these pails, they’ve become feed and tool receptacles. It is easier (read, quicker) to pull feed out of a pail on a daily basis than out of a bag. Some people, bin size depending, will use those metal trash cans.
Those Pails. One for feed, one for porting fresh bedding around. Makes life easier. I have room for the third pail, but it is not essential. I keep other things in it, but they could just as easily hang around on the feed side of the bin without being
im-pailed… (sorry, I’m in a bad pun mood today… Dad jokes, and I’m not even a Dad.)
Food Scooper. It looks just like the Chicken Pooper Scooper. To save on confusion, I got one for each function, two different colors. Green is for Go! Any other color is for… Gone. What’s good is you can measure out approximate amounts of feed, depending on the number of chickens who are dependent on you.
The Broom. Yes, for my situation, I went with a 12-inch wide broom. Reaches into the crevices of the coop floor for easiest clean up. A wide broom would be more awkward to use in my coop. A few more strokes (maybe), but I am very happy using it here. In a more barn-like setup, a wider broom would be more efficient. This broom is also super handy for sweeping snow off the top of the bin, and for the roof area over the doorway. Seriously, you don’t want snow dropping off the roof over the run entryway on a warm day, freezing up, and impeding entry the next morning. No, clean it off, shovel the excess away, and you are good. (I do not keep the snow shovel in the bin… but it is nearby. Handle up and out and waiting.)
Snacks. I don’t feed my chickens the Fritos of the poultry world, so no corn scratch. They do have small bags for dried mealworms and crickets out there.
Grit and Oyster Shell packages. I replenish their in-run supply when they run out, for each of these things. Grit, of course, should not be mistaken for grits, which is a dish made for humans from corn… Chicken grit are small pebbles that help the crop of the chicken to digest, not the Southern grits my Kentucky grandmother made a wonderful casserole out of (and that I’ve been seriously disappointed with every other place I’ve tried them the rest of my life to date). Their grit supply is seriously shelf-stable for a lifetime. Several of our lifetimes.
Scissors. Useful for opening up anything that claims to be readily-opened… but ain’t. Keeping a pair down at the bin is useful. Also, with the properly sharp set, you can clip wing feathers if you should ever need to do so.
Extra Links of Chain, plus Screws, and Such. While I keep the screw/drill gun indoors (where it can charge up on its electrified lithium battery diet), keeping some of such supplies out in the bin lets me know it’s all there in one spot. Always thinking of better ways to hang things… this spring, I’m putting in an outdoor roost inside their run.
An old large-sized cloth bath towel. Could be ripped up, damaged from its past, something you’d toss out if you weren’t homesteading. If you need to remove a chicken for some health reason, you can wrap this around her and will be able to carry her more easily, without freaking her out. Yes, there are carriers, and I’ll discuss somewhere in the future, but… sometimes when it is slippery out there, a good solid old LARGE bath towel is a wonderful thing. It may also be useful if you need to restrain a chicken for in-coop medication. (So far, I’ve been able to handle the hens without the towel, but I’m not so certain about the rooster…)
A Roll of Paper Towels. You never know what you might need some for!
Those Yellow Kitchen Gloves. Again, why not? They will age and leak after extremes of temperature, but are easily replaced. Alternatively, you can use those single-use food service gloves, but I’d prefer to re-use (rather than single-use) plastics as often as possible. Depends on what you need to do.
There’s also a door mat in there, in case in winter (hello, winter, go away?) I need to step on the epoxy floor in sharp crampons. Certainly not good for that sort of surface!
One thing I plan to do come true spring is line the bottom of the bin with good shelving material. While I haven’t gotten anything wet down their to date that will eat at the untreated internal wood, I really want to have a quick and easy way to get most of the bits of dropped bedding and feed up and out of there during cleanup times. Right now my plan is to scrape that stuff all to one side and use the feed scooper to pull the stuff up.
Things That I Might Add in the Future
When I upgrade my watering systems to nipple feeds, extra watering nipples.
When True Spring arrives and I can run a hose down to the coop, extra of those rubber nozzle hose inserts that keep water from spraying ever which way.
When the electric is set up, extra light bulbs, preferably LED.
Past Posts in this Series:
- Raising Chickens Part I: Intro & Overview
- Raising Chickens Part II: Welcoming Baby Chicks
- Raising Chickens Part III: Trekking to My Chickens in Zone 5 Winter
- Raising Chickens Part IV: My Chicken Run and Coop
- Raising Chickens Part V: The Bin, or Storage at Your Coop
- Raising Chickens Part VI: Feeding Those Layers
- Raising Chickens Part VII: Predation!
- Raising Chickens Part VIII: Is Organic the Way to Go?
- Medical supplies and treatments for your chickens.
- Broody or Not?
- Recommended book, magazine and online sources for chicken learning!
Follow my Homesteading Page for 2019 updates as things happen here! Unfortunately, you won’t get notifications whenever I add a new date/addendum to that, so if you get a notification from the blog itself, do drop in to see. (PS I’d love conversation there, too.)
In a mood of more quiet contemplation this week (many of my posts are pre-written by a week or so), I’m glad to be linking to the following link gatherings: