from Jennifer Sartell
Photos by author
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 disinfectant. 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.
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!