Top 5 Tips for Keeping Your Chicken Coop Clean
Even the name of it has a dirty connotation, but litter is a necessity in your coop. It provides a comfortable foundation for chickens to walk on, a soft landing for eggs, and the ability to clean your flock’s housing quickly. Whether you use sand, pine shavings, straw, or even lawn clippings, cleaning the coop is the icky part of the job. While we don’t want to cut corners and put our flocks at risk, there are some things we can do to make this task easier. If you are not doing these already, give one or two of them a try!
5 Ways to Keep Chicken Your Coop Clean
Lay a clean tarp down on your coop floor and cover the tarp with your choice of bedding (except for sand). When it is time for a change, fold the tarp and use it as a transporting method to the waste pile. Be sure to disinfect the tarp before laying it back down and Viola! Clean coop and dry flooring!
Deep Litter Method
Okay, so this happens to be my favorite method because it allows me to do the least amount of poop-scooping possible while offering the benefit of extra warmth for the residents of the coop in the process. The deep litter method, as the name implies, is starting with a thick base and allowing your litter to build up and compost right on the floor or the coop. From a couple of months to a whole season in colder states, the litter does not get removed but rather stirred and added to over and over. As the litter and manure composts in the pen, it provides warmth to the chickens. If you want to try this genius way of bedding your flock, start with a clean coop, here’s how to do it.
Spread a thin layer of barn lime (calcium carbonate or crushed limestone, not hydrated lime) to help with odor and fly control, on the floor of the coop. Over the barn lime, you’ll want to add 4-6 inches of fresh bedding; pine shavings work best ( never use cedar). Stir the litter every 21 days or so, adding more barn lime and fresh shavings or hay to the mix. Adding new ash to the mixture once a month will help eliminate Mites and Lice.
Distilled Vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar, Orange Peel Vinegar, or another version. Whether it’s home-made or store-bought, Vinegar is a safe and potent cleaner and disinfectant for your coop. A stiff-bristled brush and a good rag, with a stockpile of this stuff, and your coop will be sparkling clean until the chickens come home! The smell dissipates pretty quickly, too, leaving the whole coop smelling better, too.
Installing dropping boards or something similar under the roosts, along with creating removable perches is another great way to make clean up much easier and less time-consuming.
While Sand has its pros and cons (that’s another article) it dries fast, doesn’t break down, and provides a ready-to-use dust bath for your chickens. We recommend using sand for your run and a safer type of bedding such as straw or pine shavings for inside the coop itself. Dust bathing birds will naturally toss it out, and you can spend a couple of bucks to replace it periodically, therefore keeping the sand clean and stirred. If necessary, use some wire mesh wrapped over a pitchfork or even just the forks themselves to clean large clumps out of your sand.
Using one of these tricks, or even all of them will help you save time and energy on the necessities and make it easier to care for your flock. “Cleaning the Coop” need not be dirty words any longer. Besides, wouldn’t the money be better spent on more chickens?