Keeping your coop and run clean doesn’t have to be such a chore and you can do it the safe and effective way without harsh or toxic chemicals. Many cleaners such as ammonia and bleach just aren’t safe to be used around chickens, but there are alternatives which will accomplish the same job and disinfect your feeders and waterers.
First, at the sign of an ammonia smell in the coop, all bedding should be raked out and replaced and you can sprinkle an ammonia eliminating product on the floor. I myself am not a fan of this since some of the products work against the composting process in the deep litter method. Personally I find just removing the older bedding and replacing fresh dry bedding works. That in itself is key…dry bedding. I’ve only had bedding get damp once when we found there was a leak in the roof causing a little water to run down a wall but since then that problem has been solved. I haven’t had issues with ammonia smell in our coops. However, with a duck also sharing the coop with the chickens, there can be a little more moisture. Just make sure you have good ventilation…not drafts!
For cleaning feeders and waters the best is white vinegar and baking soda. Mix 1 part white vinegar with 1 part water. With a brush, scrub the inside of the feeders with the mixture then sprinkle with baking soda, keep scrubbing and rinse with a hose thoroughly. Sunlight does an amazing job of drying and killing mold and bacteria so let everything bask in the sun for a while. The same solution may be used inside the coop as well. Follow up with a homemade orange peel spray, or this one which I saw from Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily. Quart size mason jar (gotta love mason jars!) Peels from 1 lemon, few sprigs of fresh thyme and add white vinegar to cover contents. Screw on cover and ring and let the jar sit for a few weeks, shaking every few days until mixture is fragrant and vinegar smell is gone. Strain into a spray bottle and spray on roosting bars, nest boxes and all around the coop.
Nesting boxes should be regularly cleaned. I routinely remove any soiled bedding (I use straw) or Nesting Pads. Not only is it healthier for the chicken to have a clean nesting box but your eggs will stay clean as well. I use a metal paint scraper daily to remove poop on the roosts and check them over to make sure there’s no bugs or anything out of the ordinary. What I like to do is add some fresh cut up lavender which I grow in the house all winter to their nesting boxes. Lavender is calming and well the girls really like it (even though their sense of smell is not like ours).
It’s easy to keep coops and runs clean especially if you keep up on it but it really need not be a big deal. The heavy cleaning is usually done twice a year in the spring and fall. Although I do remove all bedding and add it to the compost pile and garden beds in between at least once or twice especially in the winter when the coops are closed up more. As soon as our weather breaks and spring finally decides to show it’s face, it’ll be time for the deep cleaning on our coops and runs.
As always smile…it makes people wonder what you’re up to and have an Outstanding Day. Cindy