Every chicken owner asks the same question. What’s the best way to clean my chicken coop and how often should I do it? I’m going to show you the best way I’ve ever discovered to keep my coops clean, without odor and with less work. So let’s get down to business and check out “How to Clean a Chicken Coop”, using the Deep Litter method.
How Often Should I Clean My Chicken Coop?
This is a great question and one asked by every chicken keeper.
I spent far too much time cleaning out my chicken coop every week when I first got my chickens, what a waste of time.
Using the Deep Litter Method, you can actually clean your coop just a few times a year!
Yes, with the Deep Litter method, done properly, you will have no smell!
Once your shavings inside the coop are soiled, rather than removing them, you simply add 3-4″ of new shaving over top.
As the chickens scratch in the new shavings, oxygen is added and will begin composting process. This process should be odorless, especially when you open a window and allow circulation to the coop.
But first, let’s discuss the best way to clean your chicken coop.
How to Clean a Chicken Coop
Tools and Supplies:
- A good pitchfork
- A scraping tool
- N-95 masks
- Front loader or wheel barrow
- Hose with jet nozzle setting or a power washer
- Mild environmentally friendly dish soap
- Herbs (optional)
- Diatomaceous earth
You’ll need to remove everything, including all straw and shavings, from your coop.
Put everything in a wheel barrel or front loader to haul elsewhere.
Once your straw/shavings is out of the way, scrape any and all chicken poop from the floor of your coop.
You will also want to remove spider webs that may have developed, in the upper corners of your coop.
Be sure to step out of the coop every few minutes so that you can inhale fresh air! (Histoplasmosis)
Here’s the “gold” that the Deep Litter method produces, beautiful, aged compost, ready to use!
That’s why I love the “Deep Litter Method“!
How Does the Deep Litter Method Work?
Essentially, you spread 4-5 inches of wood shavings or straw in your clean coop to begin this process.
But instead of cleaning it all out each time it’s dirty, turn the soiled litter well.
Then add another couple of inches of litter on the top.
The soiled litter is full of microbes, that will help the decomposition process.
Let the Chickens Earn their Keep
By tossing some scratch feed on top of your fresh shavings, your chickens will scratch around and break down the shavings, without you having to lift a finger!
Chickens LOVE to scratch around for bugs and worms!
My free-range chickens absolutely LOVE to scratch around in my other compost pile, and help to break it down to a useable state so much faster than just letting it rot on it’s own.
Back to cleaning.
Once you shovel all of the compost out of your hen house and scrape off any stuck on “poo”, we are ready to blast it with water!
Use the most jet like setting on your hose nozzle, or even better to use a power washer, if you have one or can borrow one.
Disinfect Your Chicken Coop with Vinegar
After a really good spraying out using some environmentally safe dish soap (I only use when things are super dirty!), I like to pour a good bit of vinegar over all the clean wood and let it dry in the sun, with the doors all open.
Vinegar will disinfect your coop, safely. No need to rinse.
Please NEVER USE BLEACH! It’s wrong on so many levels…..
Once it’s dry, (this can take several hours), then it’s time to bring in fresh shavings!
I just LOVE the smell of wood shavings, don’t you?
Spread a thick layer of your shavings in the coop, about 4-5 inches, including your nesting boxes.
I like to sprinkle some dried herbs in my nesting boxes, like lavender or lemon balm. The girls relax and lay more eggs!
You could sprinkle some diatomaceous earth over your shavings, if flies and mites are a problem for you. Totally optional. Don’t breath it!!!
By now, hopefully you’ve cleaned up all of your waterers and feeders! I have a little rack that I use to keep the water off the floor.
As your chickens excrete their waste into the shavings, simply turn the shavings with a pitchfork, once every couple of weeks or so.
Do NOT remove!
As the shavings begin to disintegrate, add another few inches of shavings directly on top of the old ones.
Microbes created from the previous manure will do their work to break down the chicken manure into a usable compound called compost.
Look for ways to encourage your chickens to scratch through the shavings in their coop by sprinkling stratch grain or small bits of leftover human food for them to enjoy!
Using the Deep Litter Method will save you precious time and energy that you can spend on other homesteading projects!