Guide written by:
Jean-Marie, Jardinier passionné & auteur, Auvergne
Caring for your chicken coop is an important part of ensuring good hygiene, health and overall well-being for your chickens. It'll also help to make your structure last longer. From changing the straw to cleaning out the coop, follow our guide for tips on how often to clean and which products to use.
Clean your chicken coop, keep your chickens safe
Chickens are fragile creatures. They are easy prey for a number of different predators including foxes, martens, weasels, rats or even dogs.
Poor weather is another risk factor for chickens as they are not good at handling wind, draughts, humidity or very warm conditions.
Keeping your chicken coop in good condition will help to protect your chickens from these threats. Solid mesh will limit the risk of predator attacks, treated wood will insulate the structure from the cold and wind, and good hygiene will help to ward off parasites.
Chicken parasites and disease
Fleas are the most common parasite among chickens. However, other pests will set in if the floors of your chicken coop are not kept clean. Among these pests are knemidocoptes mutans, also known as 'scaly leg mite'. These mites invade the feathers causing thick scales on the legs and severe cases may lead to malformed feet or claws.
The most common diseases affecting chickens are:
- avian influenza;
- fowl typhoid;
- Marek's disease.
To check your chickens for signs of parasites or disease, you must inspect them carefully one by one. The best time to do so is while you are giving them their daily feed or topping up their water.
How often to clean a chicken coop
As a general rule, the smaller your chicken coop (or the more chickens you keep) the more you'll have to clean it. If you have a small flock of chickens, weekly cleaning combined with a few deep cleans a year will do the job. Chicken coop cleaning can be split into three categories:
- weekly cleaning;
- monthly cleaning;
- yearly cleaning.
Once a week, it's important to change the bedding in your chicken coop, especially beneath the perch where your chickens sleep. Remember to clean your perch at the same time.
Most ready-built chicken coops are equipped with a drawers to make this task easier. Once you are finished cleaning, lay down around 3 cm of new bedding on the floor. Bedding is important both for the well-being of your chickens and their overall hygiene. What's more, it is insulating and makes it easier to keep the coop clean.
A variety of materials can be used: sawdust, wood chippings, flax or hemp straw, old newspapers, and so on. Wheat or barley straw are commonly used, but are not very absorbent. Don't forget to change the straw inside your nest boxes.
When cleaning your chicken coop accessories, remember to take care of the dust or sand bath. These baths are used by chickens to clean... by getting dirty. In actual fact, the process helps to get rid of certain parasites. Be sure to place the tray far from the feeder and water dispenser.
You can also use this time to make sure that there are no holes in the mesh and that predators haven't buried under the chicken coop in the hopes of breaking in.
Quick tip: the bedding from your chicken coop is full of nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphate. Throw it on your compost heap and it will turn into a fantastic green fertiliser for your garden.
Feeder and water dispenser
Clean and disinfect all feeders, water dispensers and nest boxes. Don't forget to remove all droppings from the floor using a scraping tool.
White vinegar is a great cleaning product. Vinegar and hot water has long been a favourite cleaning solution among chicken owners. Black soap is another organic product that works well.
Now is the time to do a deep clean. The best time to do so is at the start of winter as your chickens will soon be spending more time indoors. After emptying your chicken coop entirely, proceed to the same steps you carry out monthly. Then, use a pressure washer to hose down everything, paying special attention to corners, hinges, and so on.
After everything is dry, apply a specialist disinfectant product all over the inside of the chicken coop then wipe down the walls, floor and roof. Use a spray gun or machine to ensure the liquid reaches every corner of the chicken coop.
You can also use this opportunity to disinfect all accessories. Carrying out a deep clean once a year allows you to rid the chicken coop of all parasites (such as fleas), bacteria and any harmful insects that may be lurking inside.It is also recommended to use a bactericide. After everything is dry, replace all accessories and lay down clean bedding. Your chickens will appreciate your efforts!
Chicken coops: cleaning and caring for wood
Ideally, you should use an organic cleaning and disinfecting product. You'll find a range of organic bactericide, fungicide or insecticides designed especially for use in chicken coops.
Start early so when your chickens are out for the day so that your equipment will have time to dry before your feathery friends make their way home for the night. When cared for on a regular basis, chicken coops won't take long to clean and you will hopefully avoid any serious health issues.
Chicken coop structures are usually made of wood (this tends to be the most attractive option). Heat-treated pine is a commonly used material which is both relatively long-lasting and affordable.
This type of wood is weather-resistant, but if you want it to keep looking its best, it is a good idea to apply a penetrating or natural oil (such as flax) about once a year. This will also prevent your wood from cracking over time as the weather changes.
Guide written by:
Jean-Marie, Jardinier passionné & auteur, Auvergne, 203 guides
Haut comme trois pommes, je travaillais déjà au jardin familial. C'est peut-être de là qu'est né mon intérêt pour les plantes et le jardinage. Il était donc logique pour moi de suivre des études à la fois en biologie végétale et en agronomie. Accédant à la demande de divers éditeurs, j'ai écrit en 25 ans de nombreux livres sur la thématique des plantes, des champignons (un sujet qui me tient à cœur), essentiellement des guides d'identification dans un premier temps, mais très vite aussi par la suite, sur le jardinage, renouant ainsi avec la première passion de mon enfance. J'ai aussi collaboré régulièrement à plusieurs magazines spécialisés dans le domaine du jardinage ou plus généralement de la nature. Comme il n'y a pas de jardinier sans jardin, c'est dans un petit coin de l'Auvergne que je cultive le mien depuis 30 ans et où je mets en pratique les méthodes de culture que je vous conseille.