Story and photos
As the earth begins to thaw and the ice and snow melt away, we welcome spring with open arms. We have had a tough winter in the Northeast and plenty of chicken coops, including mine, needed a bit of a deep cleaning. I spent the past weekend cleaning things out and today, I thought that I would share a few of my coop cleaning secrets that help to make the job a whole lot easier for us.
Keeping a clean home for your flock is very important for their health and your health. A clean living environment helps to keep illnesses, injuries, predators, mites, lice, flies, and rodents away.
Lock out the flock
As you prepare yourself to clean the coop, pick a nice day when the flock can free-range or be out in their run. It is much easier to attend to the coop’s needs when the flock is kept from coming inside. This way you do not have any extra little feathered “helpers” that can’t help but be curious and get in your way.
Wear a mask
It is important for our health when handling manure and chicken dust that we prevent it from getting in our lungs and airways. Some people’s health can be sensitive to the droppings and the dust. Cover your mouth and nose with a traditional mask or a bandanna until the dirty work is done.
Try a shop vacuum
After you scoop and sweep out the soiled bedding, try a shop vacuum to help you dust those rafters, walls, and spots where the chicken dust has collected. Chicken dust is created from the bedding, feed, and dead chicken skin. You should remove this for the health of your flock as it can be an irritant to the flock’s respiratory system and health. We have a small shop vacuum that we have purchased for the chicken coop only. Once a month, the coop greatly benefits from a good vacuuming.
Try a manufactured coop cleaner
A few years ago, I tried a coop cleaner. I absolutely love it. It doesn’t suds much, is biodegradable and is chicken safe. I spray this on the roosts and walls and wipe them down. Then repeat the process with a water dampened cloth. The natural enzymes in these cleaners helps to break down the stubborn droppings.
Let it soak
Once you spray the coop cleaner or cleaner on the roosts, let it soak. Give it a few minutes to work without trying to remove the droppings immediately. Some droppings have been caked on for a while. Cleaning the roosting areas is important because you do not want to have your chickens spending the night on manure-filled roosts. Clean roosts support feet health. It prevents orthopedic issues. It also keeps mites from taking up residence on the roosts as well.
Windows and Sunlight
Windows in the coop provide great ventilation during warm summer weather and also during cleaning, so don’t forget to open up the windows as well as the chicken coop doors for people during cleaning. Sunlight also is a great way to help kill off pathogens with its UV rays.
Paint the walls
Consider painting the walls with a light colored low VOC paint. This helps to extend the life of your coop and keeps things inside light and bright to help stimulate egg laying. It also makes cleaning the walls easier with a simple wipe down.
Add a linoleum floor
Extend the life of your wooden coop floor by adding a linoleum floor. Coops lined with linoleum flooring are also a breeze to wash and disinfect a couple times per year.
Add removable roosts
Lastly, try adding removable roosts to the coop. This allows you to take the roosts out of the coop and clean them with a hose and scrub brush and let them dry in the sunlight.
For more tips on raising chickens, check out Melissa Caughey’s first book, A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens.