Chickens are a ton of fun, but there are a few not-so-fun jobs that need to be done if you own chickens, and one of those would be cleaning the coop. I'm no expert, but I would like to share my family's method of keeping the coop clean as well as including some helpful tips I've found on the internet.
Before we start the actual cleaning the coop part, it's important to have the correct tools. If we don't, well, the job could be made a lot worse! There's only a few tools needed, so don't worry.
The "scooper" is used to pick up the dirty bedding. We use a dog poop scooper and it works great! All you have to do is rake the dirty bedding into the metal tray and then dump the bedding into your "transporter" which I will talk about later. These scoopers can be found at pet stores such as Petco or PetSmart. In the winter when we have straw for bedding, we use a plastic (or metal) pitch fork. This easily picks up the straw and dumps it into your "transporter". Pitch forks can be found at farm stores such as TSC or your local co-op.
A "transporter" is simply what you use to transport the dirty bedding from the coop to your compost pile or dirty bedding pile. You could use a wheelbarrow, wagon, or really anything you can put shavings in and then move it to a different location with.
Bedding is an important part of keeping the coop clean and your chickens comfortable. My family uses pine wood shavings, which can be found at farm stores like TSC or Family Farm and Home. Never confuse pine wood shavings with cedar shavings or pine chips, these things can be dangerous to your chickens. Other common types of bedding people use are mortar sand, hay, and straw.
A "scrubber" is commonly a brush that you use to scrub the poop off the walls in your chicken coop. While this is a good thing to have, you don't need it. We got to Walmart to get our "scrubbers", but you could go nearly anywhere to get them.
When Should I Clean?
Now you know the tools needed to clean the coop, but you don't know when to clean the coop. My family gives the whole coop a cleaning one day a week, every week. In order to keep the coop smelling fresh between weekly cleanings we go out every other day and scoop out just the poop.
Once a year we give the coop a "spring cleaning" (we recommend doing the cleaning in the spring). During this cleaning we clean out all the shavings and poop, then spray the floor, nest boxes, coop walls, feeders, and waterers with the hose. After spraying the coop down, we take our "scrubber" and scrub the walls and the floor to get all the poop off. Lastly we put in all new shavings.
Steps to a Weekly Cleaning
Now you know when to clean the coop, but we still need to know how to clean the coop. Here are the steps we use for weekly cleanings:
1. Use the "scooper" and scoop out all the dirty bedding and poop and put it in the "transporter".
2. Don't forget to scoop out the nest boxes too!
3. Wheel the "transporter" to your compost pile or dirty bedding pile and dump all the dirty bedding and poop out.
4. Before putting bedding in, take a look around the coop and make sure there is nothing potentially dangerous to the chickens in there. (Potentially dangerous things might be sharp things, large things chickens could choke on, malfunctions in waterers/feeders, etc.) If you find something that is potentially dangerous fix it or dispose of it in the proper way.
5. Put new bedding in the coop and nest boxes and spread it around. It is recommended to have 2 or more inches of bedding.
6. Don't forget to clean up! Put all materials away where they are supposed to be.
Other Helpful Tips
~When scrubbing the coop, use a vinegar and water mix, but never use bleach.
~Use hay (not straw, hay) as a layer over bedding. Hay is easy to manage, clean, and dust free.
~Place a plastic tray underneath the roosting poles. Chickens poop a lot form the roosting poles so if you place a plastic tray under the roosting poles it will catch the poop. Then in the morning you can pull the tray out and dump the poop off of it.
~Place a tarp on the bottom of the floor then cover it with bedding. When you need to clean the coop, pull the tarp out with all the bedding and dump it into your compost pile or dirty bedding pile. Before placing the tarp back in the coop, disinfect it with vinegar or Oxine.
~Have removable roosts in the coop so that when you want to clean them you can just pull them out, instead of getting in the coop to clean them.
~Have a duster for your chicken coop. Once or every other day go out with a duster and take about five minutes to dust the walls, roosting poles, and nesting boxes.
I hope that this article has helped you and you have learned from it!
Thanks for reading,