by Lisa Steele You wouldn’t spray chemicals in your baby’s crib to clean it, would you? Of course not. Nor do you want to use chemicals when you clean your chicken coop, no matter how dirty it gets.
Products such as Sevin Dust, household bleach, aerosols sprays, creosote and other potentially hazardous products have no place in or around your chickens, who are extremely susceptible to respiratory illness.
Fortunately, there are plenty of natural products you can use to keep your coop clean, smelling fresh and free of mites and other parasites.
My coop cleaning doesn’t really happen on a strict schedule. Instead I use my nose and eyes to decide when the bedding needs to be changed. Any slight whiff of ammonia triggers an immediate cleaning. Ammonia fumes can be dangerous to the chickens and cause eye and lung problems.
Although extremely messy bedding does get removed each morning and the nesting boxes are refreshed as necessary, after awhile the straw doesn’t look fresh anymore and I know its time for a full coop cleaning. I end up doing a thorough cleaning probably every two weeks or so. Here’s what I do.
Bucket or Pail
Long-handled scrub brush
Dawn Dish Detergent
Orange Peel & White Vinegar Coop Cleaner
New bedding (I use straw)
Fresh Cut Herbs
Lavender Coop Refresher [recipe courtesy of 1840 Farm HERE]
Rake or shovel out all the old bedding, including that in the nesting boxes. Using a broom, sweep out any stray remnants.
Pour some white vinegar and Dawn detergent into warm water in a bucket and scrub the floor, walls, boxes and roosts with the solution. I use a long-handled scrub brush for the floor and walls and a smaller one for the roosts and nesting boxes.
Spray the roosts as well as any stubborn spots on the walls and floor. The orange peel, cinnamon and vanilla all work as a natural insecticides, so spray liberally. Let dry completely.
Sprinkle food-grade Diatomaceous Earth on the floor, in the nesting boxes and over the roosts. Avoid breathing the airborne dust and take care to keep the chickens out while you are sprinkling the DE because the dust can be a lung irritant.Take this opportunity to run your hands along the roosts to check for splinters and mites (black spots or blood smears indicate the presence of mites so an extra sprinkle of DE is in order).
Replace the straw on the coop floor and in the nesting boxes. Add a generous helping of fresh herbs in the nesting boxes and on the floor.
In the winter I use The Deep Litter Method which is an economical and easy way to get through the cold months without trudging down to the barn with buckets of water.