Twice yearly, in spring and in fall, we do our semi-annual chicken coop cleaning.
We use the “Deep-Litter” method for managing coop sanitation, which basically means putting down a 6” layer of pine shavings (the “litter”), adding more pine shavings (or other bedding material like straw) as the ratio of chicken droppings to shavings gets too large, and cleaning it all out in the spring and fall (see Deep Litter & Healthy Chickens).
Dressing appropriately for an event like chicken coop cleaning is important; so we put on our Carhartts, muck boots, and gloves prior to wading in. Sometimes a dust mask is a good idea too.
To clean the coop, we open all the doors and windows, shoo the chickens out, remove all the roosts, feeders, & waterers, sweep all the cobwebs and dust from the coop, and use a pitchfork & shovel to clean out all the built-up litter.
Once everything has been cleaned out and dusted off, it’s also a good time to make sure that everything is in good working order (no loose screws, etc.)
We compost all the used bedding for the garden and transport it to the compost piles with the Cushman Hauler Pro-X (see New Electric Farm Utility Vehicle) – it’s a lot easier than the wheelbarrow.
After removing the litter, we’re always pleased to see that the Spar Urethane we applied to the interior of the coop for protection is holding up well (see New Chicken Coop Protection). We then scrub everything (roosts, waterers, feeders, etc.) with a mixture of bleach, dishwashing detergent, and water (1/2 c. bleach & ¼ c. detergent in a bucket of warm water), and let it all dry in the sunshine.
Our chickens are very social, so they help throughout the process – popping in and out to inspect the proceedings. After everything is dry from scrubbing, we put down another 6” of pine shavings and put the roosts, feeders, and waterers back in place.
This chicken coop is now over 10 years old and we are very pleased with the way it’s held up. And using the Deep Litter method for managing coop sanitation has really worked well for us. The chickens seem pleased and healthy too!
Judi Castille says
HI, Just subscribing with you via recommendation of Home and Harrow. HI. We are moving our chickens soon after a year as a novice and having learnt so much, time to re-design the coop. We are happy cleaning our daily/weekly, but will be using straw in the egg and perch area, and sand across the opening to the free-ranging part. Like yours, our girls like to help with digging over the run, in case a worm turns up [very unlikely], and drinking the bicard of soda in my cleaning bucket [Colette is chief supervisor in all cleaning matters]. Its not easy designing coops, but with all these great forums and blogs, its becoming much easier to tailor what we need going forward. Looking forward to all your chicken articles. And goats – we have just bought a hectare of land and want to get a couple of goats to be our lawn mowers…any recommendations. Need to be able to get on with chickens and three grumpy spoiled Toulouse geese.
Hi Judi, thank you for subscribing! I hope you come up with the perfect coop for your situation. As far as goats, I’m very partial to the Nigerian Dwarf, they take up less room, eat less, are easy to handle, produce the best-tasting milk, and are very friendly if well socialized from an early age. Folks are always shocked by how good the milk tastes and how cute and friendly they are.
Judi Castille says
Thanks. I will have a look. We currently get our goats milk from a farm nearby, but maybe with a push we could look at milking our own goats.
Of Goats and Greens says
Nice work. I am planning on moving to such a system once fall truly settles in. Mucking out a thin layer of pine every ten days isn’t going to be great in the winter! Thanks!!
PS how many birds do you have?
I think we have 22 chickens right now. The number is always fluctuating a bit. Good luck with the new system, and yes it beats mucking out the coop in cold weather!
Veronica V. says
I wish it were that easy to clean my coop!