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Spring clean your chicken coop

6 steps for safely and effectively cleaning your coop to keep your chickens healthy and comfortable

Spring is a great time to give your chicken coop a good, solid muck-out. Chickens can be especially susceptible to airborne illnesses from moldy or bug-ridden bedding, so the best way to support your flock is to give them a safe, warm, and comfortable space. After months of messy weather, a proper coop cleaning will help keep your chickens healthy all spring and summer long. [

Prepare for the Big Chicken Coop Clean-Up 

Choose a warm, sunny day. Not only will the sun make for a more pleasant experience, but it’s a natural disinfectant: The sun’s ultraviolet rays help kill pathogens. However, since ultraviolet light can only kill germs that it contacts directly, it’s important that you scour cracks and crevices to make sure no dirt or dust is hiding. Begin by making sure every chicken is safely out of the coop. Since the weather is sunny and warm, it's a great time to let your flock roam in an enclosed area on your land while you clean. 

Tools, Gear, and Supplies You Need for Spring Coop Cleaning

•    Rubber gloves and dust mask to wear as you clean 

•    An aluminum scoop and a shovel 

•    A large disposal or compost bin 

•    A broom and a dustpan

 •    A hose 

•    Natural cleaner 

•    Long- and short-handled scrub brushes 

•    Fresh bedding 

Step 1: Get Air Circulating in the Coop 

Open the coop windows and door all the way. Your coop has likely been closed up all winter, so it will need ample ventilation. Plus, allowing air to flow through will get the coop to dry faster after a thorough washing. [

Step 2: Scrape and Sweep 

With your dust mask on, grab an aluminum scoop and shovel out the manure, dirt, bedding, and feathers from the bottom of the coop and place it all into a compost or disposal bin. Once the sticky stuff has been loosened and removed, switch to a sturdy broom and dustpan. Give everything from the nesting boxes to the roosts a thorough sweeping. If possible, pull the nesting boxes and roosts outside of the coop so you can clean and sanitize them in the fresh air. And don’t forget the rafters: Just as your chickens have found warmth and comfort inside the coop during the colder months, spiders and other insects probably have, too. Their nests and webs can be cleared away with a long-handled broom.     

Step 3: Soak and Spray the Coop 

Using a hose, spray the walls, floors, roosts, and nesting boxes to remove dust and soften any manure or dirt that didn’t get swept up. For gunk that won’t budge, you may have to repeat the shovel, scrape, sweep, and spray process as needed. After everything gets a good soak, you can spray it down with a natural cleaning solution. Going chemical-free is best for your flock’s safety and better for your soil around the coop. Look for a natural cleaner that eliminates ammonia odors, can be sprayed on all surfaces, and is biodegradable. Alternatively, you can use a homemade vinegar and water mixture that’s tough on bacteria, mildew, and dirt. 

Step 4: Scrub Away Dirt, Grime, and Bacteria 

A short- and long-handled scouring brush will allow you to reach all areas, high and low. Start by scrubbing the nesting boxes and roosts and methodically work your way down, taking extra care cleaning the chicken feeders and waterers. Use a vigorous motion when washing the walls and windows. Spray a final water rinse everywhere for good measure. 

Step 5: Dry Out the Coop 

Moisture and dampness spell trouble for your chickens’ health, so be sure to let the coop dry out for at least a couple of hours. Check to make sure all the nooks and crannies and crevices inside are thoroughly and completely dry. If you’re concerned about moisture from rain seepage or mold buildup, consider installing a fan. It’ll get otherwise stagnant air moving inside the coop and keep surfaces dry. 

Step 6: Add Fresh Chicken Bedding 

Add a generous layer of fresh pine shavings or chopped straw to the ground. If odor is a problem in your coop, you can mix rose petals or fresh-picked herbs into the bedding. Once the coop is thoroughly dry and refreshed, invite your chickens back to explore their newly cleaned space.

Regular Coop Maintenance 

After you’ve successfully spring-cleaned your coop, mark your calendar to do the whole thing again in the fall before winter sets in. Until then, rake the chicken run and stir up shavings in the coop every couple of days to keep feces—and its scent—from accumulating. The more chickens you have and the more humid the weather, the more often you may need to do this.