A Question of Cleanliness

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ArtsyMama, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. ArtsyMama

    ArtsyMama New Egg

    Sep 8, 2008
    Eugene, OR
    We have a flock that we share with a couple of friends and we are at odds over how often to clean the yard/coop/feeder & waterer. I would love to hear from some other chicken owners about how often they clean (or feel it is necessary to clean) their chickens' areas.

    The details:
    7 chickens (all girls) in a coop designed for 9 chickens. They have a large run - probably 15'x15'. Mostly they are Minorcas. We live in the Pacific Northwest and this is a young flock - the girls were just chicks this spring. We have never had any health issues with any of them.

    The opposing parties:

    My husband and I favor the 'deep litter' method, allowing our girls to scratch around in a deep bed of litter that gets forked out every few months. Clean their food and water supplies every week or two, and tidy up their coop every two weeks or so - as it needs it. Then do a yearly deep clean of the yard and coop with scrubbing and so on. We are not sure how we feel about bleach. ((This is a method that many of our area chicken keeping friends employ with great success)

    Our chicken sharing friends (they have big dogs and a small yard so we decided to share a chicken yard in our space) - I would describe them as 'Neat Freaks'. They want to clean out all the straw in the coop once a week, sweep the yard bare and clean every 2 weeks, and clean & bleach the food and water things every week. They fear foot injuries, and all forms of chicken maladies.

    I'm sure that neither of us is absolutely right nor absolutely wrong and I would love to hear other people's experience of various programs of chicken-area-cleanliness.

  2. ScottK

    ScottK Out Of The Brooder

    May 1, 2008
    Redmond, WA
    If they want to do the work, let them. I'm with you though. It's not necessary.

    Redmond, WA
  3. Poler

    Poler Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 1, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    Here here. If they want to clean out the coop every two weeks, let em!
  4. eggchel

    eggchel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Dec 26, 2006
    Both Coasts
    They can keep their chickens at my place if they will do all that cleaning, LOL.

    Either method is perfectly acceptable so do what works for you.

    Where I live, we cant really do the deep litter method because it is so dry here that the litter wont compost. However, that also means that the poo just dries out in the shavings and so it never stinks.

  5. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    Clean their food and water supplies every week or two

    Personally I do this daily. I use the deep litter method and clean the coops out twice a year. I rake the individual yards weekly.

    I've been keeping chickens this way for over 30 years and they've always been healthy.

  6. Ladysonja

    Ladysonja Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2008
    Porter, Texas
    Depending on how big your run/coop is would determine how often you should clean it.

    I clean my water every time I put fresh water in it. It is 2 gallons and I use a spray bottle deluded with bleach to spray the pan and inside... rinse off and fill up. It takes about 10 minutes total.

    Since I live in a high humity area, I've only cleaned the hanging feeder once in a month, but I keep an eye on it to make sure the feed is not moldy.

    As for the coop and run, I use the deep litter method and rake up the heavy pooped area like under the roosts and at the chicken door. Since my birds only use about half of the coop, I add shavings as needed and move the rest around adding more shavings about once a month.

    I also rake the run every two weeks. I have a sand area so it is pretty easy to do and takes about an hour from start to finish. The only thing I do every couple of days is scrap the poop off the roosts and chicken plank.

    I consider myself a neat freak, but I'm not a neat freak to point of being picky about the coop.

    With time they will figure out that the birds will be fine and everything will settle down and everyone will figure out a more time friendly cleaning program. Good Luck!
  7. mgibbzzz

    mgibbzzz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Somerset, OH
    I have pine shaving in my coop that we change every week as well as sweeping off shelves and nesting boxes. I clean the waterer every day. the food trough holds 50 lbs, about enough for a week, which I let go empty and then clean before putting new in. I have half concrete and half yard run so it varies there. We spray off the concrete every couple of days and rake up the yard every other week...they aren't in there much cause they fly out. The concrete gets icky cause it is right by their door. I think just about everyone does it a little different, but basically the same. If they want to do it, them them to do it. If they think you are doing it wrong, let them look at our post and they will see that it is okay. If they bleach too much it can make your chicks sick and too clean can actually cause anyone or animal to get sick; it lowers your immune system. Tell them that![​IMG]


    DMK Ranch
  8. DawnSuiter

    DawnSuiter Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have it setup so that the waterer in each coop/area lasts about 2 days. At which time I clean them & refill. I use sand in my coop & rake it bi-weekly or so when it needs it... in my brooders where I use deep litter, I stir the litter myself every few days & replace at the end of brooding.

    I PERSONALLY THINK.. If I would not eat or drink out of it, neither should they. After all it is their main source of nourishment. The floor can be filfthy IMHO but the food & waterers should be clean as a whistle.
  9. Subirdban Farm

    Subirdban Farm Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 17, 2007
    Hanover PA
    If you want to use the deep littler method than straw is NOT the way to go.
    1)It mats too easily and once it's combined with the manure it creates a tightly packed heap. This will make coop cleaning miserable.

    2)Straw also will not absorb any moisture from the droppings and can cause ammonia to build up in your coop causing lung diseased in you flock.

    3)Straw is also hallow and provides a great hiding place for your lice and mites.

    The best bedding material to use is wood shavings. It stays loose, absorbs moisture and makes a great insulation for in the winter and the chickens will dig down into it in the summer to keep cool.
    Many flock owners use the deep litter method. I myself use it in the winter time. You want to build your litter up to about 8 inches. To keep the litter loose throw a handful of grain over the bedding once a day and let the chickens scratch for it. This will churn your bedding and keep it loose.
    I combine some cedar chips in with my pine bedding to keep out any lice or mites that may find there way into the coop. It also helps the coop keep a fresher scent. Some people will swear up and down that cedar is not good for your birds but I have never had a problem and I know many people who use it. My coops are even made of cedar.

    I would rake the run out every other week. If you let the poo build up you are going to attract flies and other little nasties. (pathogens and parasites) Not to mention the smell when it rains. [​IMG]

    For food and water.....I use large plastic containers that I purchased at the Dollar Store. I rinse them off and throw them in the dish washer once a week to clean them. Your feed and water bowls can never be too clean.

    Just remember that your chickens can only be as healthy as their environment allows them to be. [​IMG]
  10. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    Quote:I clean their waterers and feeders regularly, but when I think back to when I free-ranged them I wonder why I bother. Their favorite place to go eat was in the cow lot scratching through the cow pies looking for bugs and grain that had passed through the cows' system. They're not nearly as picky as we humans are!!

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