“A place for everything and everything in its place.” — Unknown
Does this sound familiar? It is a quote that says that everything should have a place to be stored and when not in use it should be returned to that place.
Are you a believer in this type of cleanliness? Well, if so, then this is going to be a good read for you. If you have chickens, then you’ll be curious to know how to clean their coop I’m sure.
Now, if this seems like common sense to you, great! However, keeping your birds’ coop clean is of great importance if you want a healthy flock and lots of eggs.
Before we begin, if you prefer to watch a video about the cleaning process, here’s one for you:
1. A Clean Place to Roost
My chickens like to roost just like most chickens. However, the thing to remember is that a sleeping chicken is a pooping chicken.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone that roosting bars get really nasty. And with that, I’d like to introduce you to my cleaning tool of a choice: a garden hoe.
Yes, a garden hoe. It works wonders. I’m able to scrape everything clean and not have to get nasty in the process. I do this by simply running the garden hoe over the roosting bars repeatedly until I get all of the poop knocked loose and off of the roosting bar.
If necessary, you can spray the roosting bars down with a water hose. Depending upon how nasty they are, I will often take a sponge soaked in white vinegar and run them over the bars as well. This does help to sanitize and deter bugs.
2. A Clean Place to Lay
Can you recall how great it feels to get into bed when you’ve put clean sheets on it? I love that feeling.
Well, so do your chickens. In fact, if their nesting boxes aren’t clean it can actually deter them from laying.
So if you want to up your egg production then be sure to clean your hens’ nesting boxes regularly. When doing this, again, I use my trusty garden hoe. I just pull out all of the bedding and scoop it onto the ground.
The great thing about this is it doesn’t take very long at all. Then, I place fresh material back inside their nesting boxes.
Now, you can use many different materials. I usually use shredded paper, hay, straw, or mulch. A lot of people use cedar pine shavings and that is fine. I don’t because I like to use what I have on hand.
After this, you’re ready to move on to the next area of the coop.
3. A Clean Place to Walk
How gross is it when the inside of your home has a dirty floor? Believe me, I sweep my floors every day (sometimes multiple times a day) but with 3 boys I always seem to have dirt in my house waiting to be swept again the next day.
It is kind of the same with your chicken coop. The difference is chickens poop everywhere.
How you clean their floor will depend upon your method. I use the deep litter method. This is to add more material to the coop floor so the waste can compost inside the coop.
Then I’ll come back a few times a year and scoop it all out as great compost for my garden. If you use this method, then you’ll need to let all of the waste you’ve scooped from the roosting bars and nesting boxes remain on the floor of the coop.
Next, you’ll go over the coop floor and level everything out. If there are bare spaces or particularly gross spaces, then add some more litter to the floor of the coop.
Again, I use wood chips for this. My chickens love it because they can scratch around, and I’m happy because it makes my coop look and also smell fresh.
However, if you have a concrete floor or any other type of floor in your coop then you’ll need to clean it.
Begin by gathering all old material or waste that is on the floor and scoop it out. You can still use the material in your compost bin so you don’t waste anything.
Then you’ll need to either add more material back to the coop floor or if you have a concrete (or other washable floors) then you’ll need to hose the floor down.
Once your floors are clean, you’re ready to move on to the final stages of coop maintenance.
4. Sprinkle Some Fairy Dust
I love diatomaceous earth. The stuff works wonders on a lot of different things. It can be used to keep fleas off of your dog. A lot of people in my area sprinkle it on their yard to kill ticks and other unwanted critters.
However, you can also use it to help keep mites out of your chicken coop and it is totally natural to boot. Which is why I sprinkle it in the nesting boxes and on the coop floor. This way when my chickens dust themselves, they are putting diatomaceous earth all over them and deterring pests from climbing on them.
Also, I worm my chickens with diatomaceous earth a few times a year. When you begin to see poop on your eggs a lot, then you know it is time to worm them.
A lot of times when I am cleaning out their coop, I will sprinkle diatomaceous earth inside their food as well. Then they eat it and naturally worm themselves.
As you can tell, sprinkling diatomaceous earth is something that has a lot of benefits, is very natural, and should be included when cleaning out your coop because it helps keep everything and everyone maintained and healthy.
5. A Clean Buffet
Have I mentioned that chickens poop everywhere? I thought so.
Well, they do! That is why it’s important to keep their food and water away from nesting bars or nesting boxes because (you guessed it!) they’ll poop right in or on them.
So our feeder is hanging right in the middle of the coop for this reason so they can’t possibly poop anywhere close to or on it.
Plus, their water system is right next to it. I’m going to share a frugal tip about watering chickens. When we first got chickens we invested in this fancy watering system because we thought it would be the best for them.
Ummm…no. Chickens actually like to gulp water instead of having to peck to get it out.
After realizing this, we tossed the fancy watering system and put a bucket in its place. It is a smaller bucket so the chickens can drink from it, but they are so happy because they can easily stick their head in it and guzzle water.
Now, if you have a smaller number of chickens you can probably get away with one of the smaller poultry waterers. We have enough chickens that we’d have to have multiple of those and to be honest, I’m frugal and don’t really want to make that investment when a bucket works just as well.
Whatever you use to feed and water your chickens, you’ll need to clean them. Take them out of the coop and hose them down. That way any dirt can be hosed off and then allow them to air dry. This keeps everything clean and that way nothing gross can begin to grow inside of them.
And ultimately, it is just one more step to keep everyone healthy which is the ultimate goal.
Now, I will offer an added tip. When I put the food and water containers back inside the coop and refill them, I will sometimes add some ACV and garlic to their water. It supports their immune system, and I especially do this during the winter months.
6. A Clean Place to Run
If your chickens don’t free-range then they most likely have a run or a chicken yard of some sort. My chickens are allowed to free-range in our fenced backyard during the fall because they help clean up our garden beds.
However, the rest of the year they have to be put up because we grow a lot of items in garden beds inside our fenced backyard. This means that they have a fenced-off chicken yard so they can still get out and peck in their own area.
Well, you can’t forget about these areas when cleaning. So you’ll need to use a rake (or hoe) to level out the litter material that covers these spaces. Add some more material if needed as well.
Basically, you just want to clean up any mess that might be lying around. It isn’t a hard job. It just needs to be maintained so as not to become unsanitary.
Honestly, I don’t have to scoop this area out but a few times a year when I need compost. However, if you don’t practice the deep litter method, then you’ll need to empty it when cleaning for sanitation purposes.
7. Give Your Chickens a Mani/Pedi
When cleaning your chicken coop, it is also a good time to check on the health of your birds. Illnesses occur in chickens from time to time. Being proactive can be the difference between life and death for your flock.
When cleaning out the coop, try to remember to check their feet for bumblefoot and look at the overall health of each bird. This way if one of them is breathing funny or has any other abnormality, it shouldn’t go on for a very long time without you noticing it.
As you can tell, this step is pretty easy. It shouldn’t take you very long, but it could be the difference between having a healthy productive flock or a sickly flock.
8. Mend the Broken Places
Coops need repairs every now and then. It is important to keep them well maintained for the safety of your flock.
When you are cleaning, pay attention if there are any damaged areas. If so, then fix it. Most repairs to a chicken coop don’t take more than a few minutes (unless it is something major.)
One of the most common repairs I see in our coop is that the chicken wire is becoming loose and beginning to sag. A few whacks with a slap stapler and we are back in business.
Just keep an eye out for any repairs that need to be made and try to make them as you are cleaning the coop so you don’t forget about them.
9. How Often I Clean
Well, all of this advice is great and all but how often should you actually do these steps? For me, I clean my birds’ coop once a week and do it in between cleanings every other day.
The reason is that my birds are super picky. I guess I’ve spoiled them. We have plenty of roosting space but for whatever reason, certain birds want to sleep in nesting boxes.
And do you remember how I mentioned that a sleeping bird is a pooping bird? Well, you can imagine that my nesting boxes get pretty gross.
So I clean them out almost daily. Then I do my big overall cleaning every Monday morning. If I do it on a weekly basis (and move quickly) it doesn’t take more than 15 minutes or so from start to finish. Staying on top of things really saves you time in the long run.
Well, these are my 9 tips on keeping a clean chicken coop. I hope that you find them helpful and that it will help you to maintain a healthy flock.