One of the jobs that may be considered unpleasant to some chicken keepers but an absolute necessity is the cleaning of the coop. I try to do two deep cleanings a year, with some smaller freshening up cleanings in between those two. I usually do it in the Fall and the Spring. It’s a good idea to do this because it helps to keep parasites and illness down in your flock. If you have the right tools and do a little planning ahead of time it should go fairly easy. Here are some of the steps I take to clean out the coop:
Since my mission goes beyond raising your own food but rather how to keep you and your family healthy I couldn’t miss this step. Being in a chicken house can be a VERY dusty place. Chicken houses can be a hotbed for fungus, bacteria and parasites. When you begin shoveling and raking the old bedding you are going to cover yourself in the dust. One item I wouldn’t be without is a good dust mask. I found these with the respirator on the front and they worked very well. I also use goggles to protect my eyes from all of the dust and gloves for my hands. Yes! I look like I’m going into a bio hazard area and I’m sure my neighbors get a laugh but they’ve come to expect that from me I’m sure and at least I know my lungs are safe 🙂
When I am finished cleaning the coop I immediately go and change my clothes and take a shower to remove anything that is on my skin and my hair.
Tools for the Job
I can’t stress how much easier a job is when you have the right tools! Depending on the kind of bedding you have will determine what type of tools work best. I use pine bedding in my coop so I found that a corn scoop, a garden rake and a broom work great! The corn scoop is a new addition and it made the job last week MUCH easier! I was able to carry large piles of bedding out at a time rather then making so many trips. If you use straw for your coop a good pitch fork would probably work better for you. I found the pine shavings easier for myself because it doesn’t tend to get as heavy as straw in badly soiled areas.
Because we covered our floor in the coop with a sheet of fiberglass reinforced wall that you would put around a shower, the floor is waterproof so I am able to hose the floor out with water. I also use white vinegar to spray the coop down including the roosts, laying boxes and floor once all of the bedding is out of the coop. This helps to repel parasites and if you place all of your used lemon peels in the vinegar and allow it to take on the medicinal qualities of the lemon it will also help to deodorize the coop as well. The process for doing that is to fill a glass jar with white vinegar and place lemon peels or rinds in the vinegar between cleaning. This could be left for months at a time and won’t go bad. When you are ready to clean your coop place some of the lemon vinegar in a spray bottle to spray around the coop.
I also spread a good layer of Diatomaceous Earth in my coop to kill any parasites that might be lurking. Be sure to purchase the food grade kind and don’t forget roosts and nesting boxes.
I like to use flaked pine bedding to line our coops. It seems to help deodorize the coop and is very easy for me to shovel out at cleaning time. I wouldn’t advise using Cedar shavings because it can be detrimental to their lungs. Many people also using straw bedding and I have used it before but found it heavier to remove as I stated above. Either one works very well though!
This is the process I use to clean the coop.
- Remove all feeders and waterers and chickens of course 🙂
- Sweep any cobwebs off of the ceiling and walls.
- Rake together all bedding and shovel it out to the compost pile.
- Sweep out any last bits of bedding.
- Spritz the entire coop with vinegar mixture. Don’t forget roosts and laying boxes!
- If your floor is a water proof surface hose the floor out with clean water and squeegee any excess water out of the coop.
- Spritz again with a light mist of vinegar mixture and let dry.
- Clean all feeders and waterers with vinegar and allow to dry in the sun.
- After the coop is THOROUGHLY DRY so you don’t create a fungal environment you are ready to add in your fresh bedding. It is always a great idea to start cleaning a coop in the morning to allow the day for drying.
- Add a layer of Diatomaceous Earth to the roosts, layer boxes and floor.
- Add your bedding to the floor
- Also if you want to add any dried or fresh herbs to your coop and nesting boxes this is a great time. Peppermint is a great one as it repels bugs!
I also take this time to examine my birds for any parasites such as mites or lice or treat any issues I see that may be going on with them.