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 eight years old (see New Chicken Coop) 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!