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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.
What is the best bedding to use to keep dust down.
Straw is a great chicken bedding! If it’s super dry, it can generate a little bit of dust, but not as much as dirt. Don’t forget to also include a dust bath for your bird, though so that they can help control mites and clean their feathers.
I have a hen who lays her egg at night. Then it lands on a board and smashes. It tends not to smell very good in warm weather. What cleaner do you use and where can I get it?
A few years ago, I built a chicken coop for my parents and it worked for a few years. My parents are moving now and I am taking on the chickens and the coop. Thanks for giving some great ideas about keeping a coop clean. I especially liked your idea to paint the walls and add linoleum to the floors so that cleaning is easier in the future. This gives me a great place to start. Thanks!
Made of dust is actually a torture. I frequently have to breathe every time cleaning the chicken coop. I think there must be a specific plan about the cleanup.
Always use plenty of diatom to prevent redmite and lice durhamhens.co.uk
This was great. I only have a littlw coop but i never thought of painting it. And the lino flooring would be great. Thank you
What is the cleaner called?
I also don’t know what the abbreviations mean, in the posts. It would be very helpful if they were explained.
Also, the first step of cleaning a chicken coop has been left out! I learned it from the old FoxFire books: Once you are dressed in your worst clothes and have all your supplies together, have a stiff shot of your favorite disease-killing beverage (in other words, high in that wonderful disease killer, ethanol) 🙂
I’m very interested in painting the inside of my coop. It’s very hard to see inside at dusk, when I lock up the girls. I was not sure what VOC paint stands for. Could you explain a little more on the type of paint that would be safe? Thanks for all the good ideas.
Low VOC has less odor and chemical drying agents than other paints so it’s less likely to cause respiratory distress for your chickens. VOC stand for Volatile Organic Compounds.
VOC’s are basically chemicals in paint that could be hazardous to your health. I believe nost if not all paint in Canada is low in VOC’s as its regulated here.
Some great tips! Thank you.
Some great tips! Thank you.
I like to put Stall Dry or PDZ on the floor of my coop before I add new shavings. I also sprinkle DE in the shavings. Right now the bedding is frozen. I think the water heater causes moisture to enter the air and condense on the bedding. Looking forward to cleaning it out.
I would like to know where you get the mats you used in the nest boxes, my chickens keep kicking out the straw and then sometimes the eggs get cracked. I put it back in and they kick it out. I would love to get something like that for my nest boxes and also I love all these coop cleaning tips I will have to try some of them. Like keeping them out when I’m cleaning since they like to ‘help’ and vacuuming the dust and then painting the inside and putting down some linoleum on the floor. thank you for the great tips!
we use pine shavings, hens snuggle into them. we order a bale at a time from our hardware store. never use cedar–our chickens dislike them and were very clear about it.
Hi Helen, I would advise you to do a Google search for “nesting pad”. A number of suppliers should pop up for you.
I got some at Farmtek.com but my chickens hate them and toss them out of the nest boxes onto the floor. Wonder why??
Karen, thanks for the info. I hope mine like them because I ordered 3 of them yesterday from Toolfetch.