Cleaning the Coop, Do’s and Don’ts: Chicken Coop Series

Cleaning the coop is defiantly a time-consuming chore that normally isn’t much fun. You get all sweaty raking out old bedding and putting down the new, but it’s all worth it, right? I think that cleaning out your coop often is important for the overall health of your flock, as it prevents the buildup of ammonia from chicken poop. There’s also plenty of products out there that will make the cleaning of your coop easier, and make the end result much better. So, let’s head down to the coop and get cleaning!

How often should I clean and what are the basics?

For the basics of cleaning out bedding, all you need is a rake, broom, or dust pan depending on what size and style your coop is. For deep cleaning your coop and scrubbing it down, white vinegar and dawn dish soap will do the job, but there’s plenty of recipes for herbal cleaners that smell amazing and do a great job at cleaning! I try to deep clean my coop at least 2-3 times a year, during the spring, fall, and winter, making sure that it stays fresh all year-long. I also try to clean out the bedding 3-4 times a month. I know, I may sound like a complete clean-freak, but I’m willing to do whatever to keep my flock clean and healthy. Not only that, but I also try to keep everything tidy for the public eye to see. Me and the chickens are benefiting from that!

Bedding to use?

I would suggest straw and pine shavings. They’re non-toxic, and perfectly safe for chickens. For more, check out my Nesting Box 101, as that’s where I describe bedding in detail.

Depending on the season will help to influence what bedding choice you make, along with where you live. If you live around pine trees, then the pine needles that fall on the ground would be a good option. They’re non-toxic to chickens, and can be free if you live by a pine tree, just make sure they’re dry. If you don’t have enough pine trees, then pine shavings and straw is the way to go. Straw is great for winter time, as it’s hollow and can hold heat. If you live in a southern climate, that’s most likely not a concern until January, but for northern climates it works great! Pine shavings are available at Tractor Supply and most of the time any feed store, making them easy to access. Pine shavings are good to use in the brooder when you have chicks, and are good to use on the coop floor. Depending on how big your coop is, you may have to use a good amount of pine shavings, and they can be a little pricey for a bag or two.IMG_7372

Coop Cleaner Recipes

Not saying any of these are my originals, if you google either one of them there’s so many variations, this is just what I’ve decided on. These are super easy to make, and you most likely already have the ingredients, which is why I love them. Of course, the white vinegar makes it smell like vinegar, but it doesn’t last. Vinegar is much better to use in coop cleaning as bleach and chicken poop never ends well, especially if there’s ammonia involved. When mixed, it can create toxic fumes, which are very harmful to chickens, so stick with the white vinegar to be on the safe side.

Ingredients and Supplies:

  • 1 spray bottle
  • White Vinegar
  • Dawn Dish Soap

Instructions:

  • Pour white vinegar into the spray bottle until half full or slightly more than half full (depends on how much space you’re cleaning. If you have a small coop, half full will be plenty, but for a bigger coop you may need to fill it all the way)
  • Squirt in roughly a tablespoon of dish soap, but I always eyeball it to see how much I think is the right amount. It’s all about experimenting!
  • Shake everything together in the bottle and set off to work!

For the Orange Peel Coop Cleaner:

This is all over the internet, and it makes a perfect coop cleaner. Here’s my recipe that I’ve decided on, but feel free to change it up however you want!

  • 2 oranges, 1 grapefruit and a lime or lemon (or just four or five oranges)
  • White Vinegar
  • Large jar
  • Mint or lavender (optional)
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • Spray Bottle

Instructions:

  • Peel the oranges and put the peels in the jar
  • Put the cinnamon sticks in the jar (you can break them in half if you’d like)
  • Fill the jar with vinegar, or enough to cover the peels
  • After screwing on the lid or snapping it shut, give it a shake and let it sit for a week or two, shaking it every few days. Once that vinegar smell is gone, it should be done sitting. You can dilute it with water or use it full strength

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Don’ts when Cleaning the Coop

As I mentioned earlier, don’t use bleach when cleaning. I never do, and don’t suggest it either. White vinegar, not ACV (it attracts fruit flies) will do the job much better. Another don’t would be only scooping out the dirty parts of the bedding and leaving the rest in for months. Your chickens need clean bedding, just like you need clean bed sheets and blankets, otherwise ammonia can build up, mites can be attracted, and the bedding may get too thick and dirty. Clean out all the bedding at least 2-3 times a month, and I clean out the dirty bedding from when they sleep every day. Better to be safe than sorry! I clean out the bedding where they sleep every day to get rid of the big clumps of poop, and let the First Saturday Lime take care of the really small ones I couldn’t catch. It keeps it smelling nice in there and prevents the buildup of ammonia. The next don’t would be using the wrong kind of bedding. Certain types of bedding are toxic to chickens such as cedar shavings, so keep in mind what you’re using! The last don’t would be leaving wet bedding in the coop. It’s so important to have dry bedding, because chickens can get sick from having wet bedding, just like you can get sick from standing in the rain!

Products I Use to Help Keep My Coop Clean

There are many products out there that can help your coop’s bedding stay fresher longer, so here’ s a couple that I’ve just recently begun to try and love!JNWG6887VTCF6264

  • First Saturday Lime: This stuff is amazing, let me tell you. It’s perfectly safe for chickens to eat if they felt like it, and has a nice, fresh scent to it. I like to sprinkle a good amount under my chickens bedding on the coop floor and nesting boxes to keep away mites and bugs, keep down the smell of chicken poop, and help control its natural ammonia. Click here to buy your own bag!
  • Diatomaceous Earth: This will also help keep away bugs, as when sprinkled on bugs, it dries out their natural fats and oils, causing them to die of dehydration. It is also good if the chickens to fluff in as it protects them from getting mites, and I also put it in their feed.
  • Coop Cleaner: You could use my recipe, make your own recipe, or use someone else’s, but they all do the same thing! It’s important to deep scrub your coop at least twice a year to get rid of any smells and bugs that may be in there. It’s like when you clean your bathroom! Smells fresh, right?
  • Shovels and Rakes: I keep these on hand to stir up the dirt and to rake out nasty dirt every once and a while. It’s good to clean out the run as well, to give your chickens a fresh start.
  • Herbs: I use rosemary especially after cleaning a coop and year-round. It makes the coop smell amazing, and keep it smelling fresh longer. I also use mints, lavender, and any other culinary herb.

This is defiantly a lot of stuff, but it’s all worth it! I’d rather spend a little money on DE and Lime versus buying medicines and vet visits for sick chickens or having to work twice as hard cleaning the coop when I deep clean it because there’s poop stuck everywhere… Trust me, I know chickens are messy! But isn’t it always more pleasing to look at a clean, fresh smelling coop than a poopy, stinky one?

Dancing with Chickens

© Dancing with Chickens, 2018.

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