How To Clean A Chicken Coop: Keeping Your Flock Healthy
Cleaning a chicken coop is not that difficult if you stick to a regular schedule and understand the importance of keeping the coop nice and clean for the benefit of your chickens and their egg production. Here are some instructions on how to clean a chicken coop.
Set Up A Cleaning Schedule
To make your job easier, it’s recommended that you set up a regular cleaning schedule. This will ensure that you’ll know exactly what to do, and the task won’t seem too overwhelming. Here’s one example of a good cleaning schedule.
Collect all the eggs. Inspect the coop for any problems such as damage, rodents, or a build-up of droppings. Do any necessary spot cleaning and replenish any bedding that has become too soiled.
Remove the existing bedding and replace it with nice fresh material. Check the bedding in the nesting boxes and replace any that has been soiled or is just becoming too old. With a soft broom, dust the walls and other surfaces to remove cobwebs and dust. This will keep pests at bay.
Remove the feeders and waterers and give them a good wash. Use a solution of vinegar and water to get them nice and clean. Place them out in the sun to dry completely before refilling them and placing them back into the coop.
Wipe down all surfaces, such as walls, doors, and ceilings, to remove dust and cobwebs. Use a scraper to remove droppings from the roosting bars. It’s also a good idea to disinfect all surfaces using a mixture of vinegar and water.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to use harsh chemicals such as bleach, as these can be harmful to your hens.
Every six months, you want to give your chicken coop a deep clean. This will involve removing all bedding materials, including that in the nesting boxes. If you have a productive garden and a compost bin, don’t waste the used bedding because it makes excellent compost.
You also want to give all solid surfaces a good scrub and clean, ensuring that you remove any dried-on fecal matter and other dirt and debris. Allow the coop to dry completely before you add new bedding material.
Preparing For Chicken Coop Cleaning Tasks
Before you start cleaning your chicken coop, you want to gather the tools that you need and also some necessary protective gear.
As you’ll be coming into contact with lots of dust and chicken poop, you want to ensure that you wear gloves and also a face mask. This ensures that your skin doesn’t come into contact with any harmful contaminants and that you don’t end up breathing in any airborne bacteria.
Once you’ve gathered your protective gear, gather the rest of the tools you’re going to need. These will include a rake, a shovel, a broom, a scraper, and a spray bottle filled with vinegar and water to use as a disinfectant.
Before you start your cleaning tasks, make sure that you move your hens to a safe place outside so that you can clean the coop easily without having them under your feet.
Remove Debris And Droppings
You should start your cleaning tasks by removing any dirt, debris, and droppings using a rake and a shovel. Remember that this can go into your compost to break down and provide your garden beds with lots of valuable nutrients.
It’s best to put this into your compost rather than straight onto your garden beds. This is because the composting process will break down any bacteria that may be present in the droppings or other debris.
While you’re removing this debris, make sure that you also clean up any spilled food or leftover feed, as this can attract bacteria.
To make things easier, you can always choose to use the deep litter method, which will enable you to leave the bedding material inside the coop for an extended time. This means that you won’t need to replace it completely except during your bi-annual clean.
How To Use The Deep Litter Method
This simple and effective method will reduce offensive odors and ensure that the bedding material that your chickens walk and sit on is always clean and dry.
The method involves turning over the bedding material on a consistent basis and adding a new layer on top each time. This way, the droppings will accumulate on the floor of the coop and will start to decompose. This has the added benefit of adding heat to the coop, which is ideal in winter.
During the decomposing process, all harmful bacteria will be destroyed by the beneficial microbes that will start to grow.
You can start using this method after you’ve given your chicken coop a good clean during one of your bi-annual scheduled cleaning tasks.
Once the floor of the coop is completely bare and clean, put down a 6-inch layer of pine shavings. Pine shavings are used as the bottom layer because they are small in size and will compost quickly.
Next, you want to lay a thin layer of straw over the shavings. The following day and every day after that, you want to turn over the straw at the top so that any droppings or wet straw ends up on the bottom of the layer.
Periodically, you want to add an additional thin layer of straw until the entire bedding material is around 12 inches thick. As you continually turn over the bedding material, you’ll be introducing oxygen into the mix, and this reduces the build-up of ammonia. Hence, no offensive odor.
Generally speaking, this method is only suitable during the winter months as the composting process does create quite a bit of heat which is something you want to avoid during summer.
Scrub And Disinfect All Inside Surfaces
Once you’ve removed all the bedding material, debris, and droppings from the coop, you want to scrub and disinfect all the surfaces inside the coop. This includes the roosts, the nesting boxes, the bare floor, and the walls.
Make sure that you use a scraper to remove any droppings that have dried onto hard surfaces such as the roosts. You then want to spray all the surfaces with a vinegar and water mixture to disinfect them.
Allow the inside of the coop to dry completely before you add new bedding material and let the chickens back in. This eliminates the possibility of bacteria growing and infecting your hens.
Clean And Disinfect All The Feeders And Waterers
You can do this task before you remove the bedding material, as it will give these items time to dry before you place them back into the coop.
Make sure you give the feeders and waterers a good scrub with hot soapy water to remove any debris or feed that has become caked on. Once they’re clean, spray them with a solution of vinegar and water and place them out into the sun to dry.
When you’ve finished the cleaning, you can refill the feeders and waterers and place them back into the coop.
Maintain The Cleanliness Of The Coop
After you’ve deep cleaned the chicken coop, it’s important to maintain its cleanliness consistently. This means removing droppings regularly or turning over the bedding material if you’re using the deep litter method. Ideally, you want to do this daily.
Inspect the coop regularly to identify any cleanliness problems and deal with them immediately to avoid the growth of bacteria. At the same time, check for any holes around the perimeter of the coop where rodents such as rats or mice could infiltrate.
Lastly, ensure that the feeders and waterers are always scrupulously clean to avoid bacterial infections. And remove any leftover treats on the same day, as these can attract rodents and other pests.