spring cleaning the coop…

Our little flock of hens have been more than generous with their eggs, and certainly kept us well supplied during the short days of winter (when we were told they would hardly lay an egg at all). The least we were gifted with was 4, the most 12…but that’s a story for another day!

With the recent beautiful blue-skied, sunny days, we found it was time to spruce up the coop and dust off the cobwebs of winter. With so many of our friends now welcoming chickens to their farms and backyards, I’ve been asked how we clean our coop and what our daily routine is like.

And so, in this post, I’ll share how we tidy up the coop, then follow-up in my next post on what we do each day, as well as what needs doing just a few times a year.

I’m sure there are many different ways to clean a coop, this is simply what we’ve found works best for us as we care for our little flock on Windy Meadows Farm. Tweak the ideas to work for you and feel free to share some of your own ideas…we can all learn something new!

Spring Coop Cleaning:

  • let the girls out of the coop, then close the run door to keep them outside.
  • open all windows to let in fresh air, remove feeders, waterers, and gather eggs.
  • lay a tarp outside the coop door or you can use a wheelbarrow. Because we used the deep litter method (bedding up to 10 inches deep) and had a lot of shavings and straw to remove, laying down a tarp was our best choice.
  • using a rake, remove all bedding material, empty nest boxes, and clean the roost with a wire brush.
  • once bedding is removed, broom out any cobwebs, dust, or remaining shavings from the corners. Haul used bedding to a compost bin or till into your garden.
  • disinfect coop surfaces with a mixture of 1:10 bleach and water (one cup of bleach for every 10 cups of water.) A spray bottle makes it easy to apply this mixture to all surfaces. Wipe the interior down, and let dry completely.
  • examine coop for any roof leaks or drafts, then double-check all D-clamps and square lock pins on nest boxes and doors to make sure they are secure.
  • see that the windows in working order, and if the roost needs repaired.
  • remove vinyl flooring for cleaning. We placed a vinyl flooring remnant over our coop’s wooden floor…it keeps the wood underneath dry and makes cleaning much easier. I simply pull out the flooring, scrub and mop it, rinse with a hose, then let it dry completely. (Note: vinyl flooring is for adult hens only and not a good choice for chicks as they can easily slip on it.)
  • once everything is thoroughly dry, replace the vinyl flooring, top with fresh bedding, and fill nest boxes.
  • feeders and waterers are then scrubbed clean, then reattached to S-hooks on chains that are hanging from the ceiling (both should hang level to the hens’ backs).
  • give the run a once-over and look for any signs of outside digging, bent or broken wire, and general wear & tear. Make repairs where needed.

And if you’re still on the fence about getting chickens, I can’t say enough how much fun our family has had this past year. And going to the backyard to gather eggs for a family meal…what could be fresher? 

Mary is a Midwest farmgirl who enjoys the simple pleasures of living in the country. “For us, living where there is plenty of room for gardens, animals, and for kids to play and explore is the best kind of life.” You can visit Windy Meadows Farm at www.windymeadowsfarm.blogspot.com.

Published on Apr 18, 2012

Grit Magazine

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