Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cocktails in the Coop

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by Jennifer Sartell

While this post isn't about sparkling fizzies, sugar rimmed glasses or spiked eggnog, it is about using alcohol in the coop. But before you head to the backyard with martini glasses and tiny umbrellas to celebrate with the girls, you might want to keep reading.

As far as the realm of natural cleaning products, vinegar is the "go to" solution for most coop keepers. I know I've used vinegar for years as a natural cleaner and deodorizer, (for more, read my post 11 Uses for Vinegar Around the Coop) But I recently learned of the beneficial cleaning power of vodka.

Benefits of Vodka vs. Vinegar

1. While vinegar, for the most part, only repels insects, Vodka actually kills them. Vodka will also repel insects and some people even spray it on themselves like a bug spray.

2. Like vinegar, vodka is a natural dissinfectant. It also kills mold and mildew. But unlike vinegar, vodka evaporates much more quickly, so when using it as a disinfectant on the coop walls, or egg boxes, it won't stay damp for long.

3. Vodka is odorless. After I posted my vinegar post, I had a few readers concerned with the lingering smell of vinegar in the coop and wondering how this affected a chicken's system. With vodka, there is no smell.

4. Vodka tastes better in daiquiris than vinegar...(oops, little side tracked there)

So depending on what's important to you, I can see how vodka could be a helpful addition to the coop's cleaning repertoire.

Is it Safe?

In terms of substance, alcohol and vinegar are connected in that they are both derived from the process of fermentation. Vinegar is the next fermentation step after alcohol is made. My first question with using vodka in the coop is, is it safe? My initial guess would be that fermented grains (or other materials) has to be better than the scary chemicals found in most commercial cleaners. But then again, before I start spraying vodka all over my coop, I wanted to be sure. Chocolate doesn't seem harmful, but it can kill a dog... know what I mean?

I have to say that the research for this post was rather..."interesting" to say the least! Do yourself a favor and don't Google "vodka" and "chickens"...all I can say is, it takes all kinds to make a world. While I was only looking to see if it was safe to SPRAY vodka AROUND chickens, it seems that some people have actually fed alcohol to chickens...some claiming it has medicinal properties, others looking for a sick laugh. A lot of home-brewers feed the left over fermented grains to their flock.

I also remember catching an episode of the Beekman's where they fed their Thanksgiving turkey a jigger of whiskey before it met its final doom. They claimed that it calmed the turkey to make the episode less stressful and also tenderized the meat as the muscles relaxed with intoxication. But in this case, they probably weren't concerned with the affects of alcohol and long term health. All in all, after weeding through some strange material, it seems that chickens can consume a small amount of alcohol and live to lay another egg.

Now to be clear, I have no intention on feeding alcohol to chickens, or to encourage this in any way. But as chickens have been known to consume alcohol, and fermented mash in some instances, I can't see the harm in spraying it in their living quarters. To be safe, I would be sure to remove the chickens from the area and let the alcohol evaporate before letting the chickens back in the coop.  

How to use Vodka in the Coop

Buy the cheapest vodka you can find. Even the most epicurean of chicken coops can be cleaned with cheap vodka, it has the same cleaning qualities as the nicer brands.

Vodka has the most disinfecting and deodorizing properties strait and undiluted. It can be poured into a spray bottle and misted onto walls, nest boxes and floors.

It has non-streaking properties so it can be used to clean coop windows.

I know some of you also have nest box curtains. It can be used to freshen fabric (think Fabreeze) between washings.

Livening up The Coop

No...not like that. (wink) But it can make things smell great!

Like vinegar, vodka can be used to make tinctures. Add a handful of lavender, a few vanilla beans, crushed mint leaves or citrus rinds, let this sit for a couple weeks, and pour into a spray bottle. Spray this in the coop (or home) for a natural deodorizer. You can up the bug repelling nature and add some leaves of catnip, an herb known for its bug repelling properties.

The topic of cleaning our chicken coops might not be as "holly" or "jolly" as sharing spirited recipes for holiday cocktails, but hopefully this post has opened up some options for natural cleaning choices in your coop.

Cheers to you and yours!

Have you used vodka in your coop? Tell us the story by leaving a comment below, posting on the Community Chicken's Facebook Page or visit us at Iron Oak Farm.

36 comments:

  1. Two Squirts of vodka from the spay bottle for the coop, one spray for me- Two for the coop, one for me...Gonna be the best time I've had coop cleaning ever :)
    Seriously though, I'm really going to try it. I'd never thought of it before but I bet it cleans fantastically! Love the idea of scenting the vodka also. I make vanilla extract with vanilla beans and vodka that smells great- Can't imagine how wonderful a lavender coop would smell.

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    1. Vanilla in water sprayed on the girls actually gets rid of mites and gnats. In my experience, vinegar attracts gnats--we use little dishes of it when we want to get rid of them in the house and they fly right in, so I don't know that I'd want my coop to be vinegary. :)

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  2. Great post Jennifer. I have been using my own concoction of vinegar and orange peels with vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks but I'm going to use some vodka for my next batch. I had been researching some other natural cleaners and run across vodka and other alcohols recommended. Great idea. Lisa/Fresh Eggs Daily

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  3. I work at an apartment community and I happened to have 3 large bottles of vodka left behind when an apartment recently vacated. I seldom drink, so I now have a use for the vodka! One of the effects vodka could have on the cage cleaner could be the tranquilizing qualities. LOL

    Thank you for giving me a use for the vodka! Dawn

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  4. Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol may be cheaper! and just as effective...

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    1. By the ounce, isoppropyl alcohol is more expensive, but it comes in smaller quantity so the point of purchase is less.

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    2. Isopropyl alcohol is TOXIC!!!! I do not recommend that you use it in any way if you are looking for natural cleaning agents.

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    3. Isopropyl Alchohol may be toxic for birds, but it makes a dandy house hold cleaner on electronics because it evaporates very quickly. You can buy it by the gallon in hardware stores.

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    4. But poisonous if accidentally ingested!!

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    5. Don't drink isopropyl alcohol, but it has been used for years and years on skin, and no one has gotten sick. If you don't feed it to the birds, they'll be fine. sheesh.

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  5. Love our chickens, love the idea, probably a bit expensive, but after a vodka martini,I won't care, and the girls will be healthier and happier-great article!

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  6. http://www.savagechickens.com/2008/09/vodka-cooler.html

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  7. It is a cartoon, by the way...

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  8. Homebrewers don't ferment the grains... we create a mash and then drain it off to proceed with making beer, so all that's left are wet grains with a sweet liquid on them... no alcohol...

    But yes, chickens love the stuff..

    Matt
    Eugene, Oregon

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    1. Matt, I'm so glad you said that. We also homebrew and do the same thing. The girls love the spent grains, and no waste.

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    2. Matt, I'm so glad you said that. We also homebrew and do the same thing. The girls love the spent grains, and no waste.

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    3. Good idea for putting some use to those left over grains. I like it!

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  9. Thank you for the reality check. I have thought about using vodka for some time now.

    chickenwiskers

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  10. I used to live in the US Virgin Islands, where Vodka was cheaper than Windex or any other cleaning product, YES it is an excellent cleaning product. No smell, no film left behind.

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  11. Correct. My husband is an avid homebrewer and our chickens love the spent grain. As Matt said, they are not fermented. The beer ferments after the grains have been steeped.

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  12. wow, this was a great post. we will be using some of these vodka ideas for our coop and having some for our own cocktails too! thanks for sharing on this topic.

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  13. Fascinating! I will totally try this, especially with some of the natural ingredients to add fragrance! Thank you!

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  14. Makes the best bug/tics/fleas repellent,just soak some catnip/vanilla in some cheap vodka and put in spray bottle,it works great.
    Ron

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  15. Hick! Hick! I clean coopchickin' now. Hick! Oops, whoa, I got it, oops. Vodka clean goood, yep.

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  16. A reminder for spraying vodka on yourself as an insect repellent: it will soak into the skin; so be careful how much you use, or the flies won't be the only thing "buzzing".

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    1. Interesting article and helpful comments too. Er..um... We are going to a jungle area in the southern Yucatan (yes, lots of chickens there), and we have real trouble with the mosquitos,and "tabanos" big, fat, very biting flies. I don't like using Deet very much and am wondering about ....vodka....? Has anyone actually tried rubbing it on your skin, etc. as ?a bug repellent?

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    2. Not sure about vodka, but I do know of an herb called, "Tansy" that is used for bug repellent. Go to bulkherbstore.com and read about it. Excellent site!

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    3. I believe tansy was one of the flowers used in posys.(not sure of my spelling here)
      Ring a round a rosy (means flushed cheeks)
      Pocket full of posy (means flowers and herbs carried that were beleived at the time to ward off disease)
      Ashes, ashes, we all fall down! (talking of people dead from the plague)

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  17. Hi all! We use a product called Ionic Silver Solution to sterilize our coops. We even use it on our pups and the whelping box. There is not a disease organism known that can withstand it, and it is totally harmless to mammals. Even put it in our managerie's water to ward off/cure disease. We order it from CCC-LLC@optimum.net. Just put "silver" in the subject line and they will send you an information packet.
    keep on clucking!

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  18. What proof vodka are you using? you said cheapest.. but does the proof matter? the cheaper vodka is usually at a lesser proof and does that affect cleaning abilities?

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  19. Tried the CCC-LLC web address--browser couldn't find it.

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  20. Remember that high-proof alcohol is flammable and avoid any ignition source, especially when spraying. No "toasts" wanted in this case!
    Flo

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  21. would moonshine whisky be as good as vodka to use around chickens

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  22. Just like the Mythbuster's episode that explores the uses of Vodka, we now have a new application from them to try! Vodka is now the Chicken's friend as well as the medicinal purposes it is used for.... as well as a beverage. :)

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  23. In water treatment for the food industry, Grain Alcohol(ever clear- vodka- ethyl alcohol) were the preferred contact cleaning agents when assembling equipment that processed water(reverse osmosis)flowed, it was a non toxic and total evaporating with no residue. The biggest issue s came from purchasing over our use of ever clear, and K Y jelly (only food grade lubricant that was allowed to enter water)They wondered what we did in our department.

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  24. I have been wondering.... I Homebrew wine... no grains... Blueberries. Would it be safe to feed some of the leftover fermented pulp to my flock? I would only give small quantities NOT the whole 50 lbs. I have in the fermenter right now. We once fed a whole batch to our Texas LongHorn Bull... OH MY... he staggered around the pasture all day... LOL... don't want to mess up my chickens!!!!

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