Cleaning your Chicken Coop
Keeping your Coop clean means healthy and happy chickens!
One of the things which sorts the men out from the boys with keeping chickens is the cleaning (although reading the Forums, it is apparent that this jobs is usually done by the lady of the House!!). It can be quite demanding especially through Winter when the rain turns to mud, it's cold and because the Chickens are spending more time in their Hen House because of the longer hours of darkness, there is a lot more poo around!
Although Chickens are pretty hard creatures and will adapt to almost any situation, it cannot be stated enough that owners should ensure their Chicken Coops are kept clean.
Cleaning inside the Chicken House
This is a all year round job. In the warmer and milder month's, Sheds, especially wooden one's, are prone to getting Red Mite and other bugs.
Because Rats and Mice are rather led to where there's Chicken Feed, underneath the Chicken Shed can be an ideal nesting place and invariably, they tend to use the Shed as a short cut. One of the worse sights is opening the Shed door to find a Rat jumping out beside your feet! You will see you have Rats and Mice going around by spotting their poo on the floor amongst the wood shavings, so make sure this is replaced on a regular basis.
For general cleaning and prevention of Mites and other bugs, you can clean your house out with specialized Treatments such as Stalosan, Netlex Viratec, Poultry Shield and other such products. These can all be brought from all good Stores such as Wells Poultry (see lower left).
For cleaning, plastic is best, so if you have an Eglu system or use an adapted Plastic Bunker, there's nothing like a good hose down and spraying with Disinfectant when finished.
Although it sounds a bit on the big side, not a corner, nook or cranny should be left uncleaned, these are the places which become havens for parasites you don't need, certainly the Chickens don't!
A lot of cleaning work time can be saved by putting bins / baskets below the perches as in the picture top right.
Cleaning the Chicken Run
This obviously depends upon your set up. If you have a moveable Ark, you are moving it around on a regular basis, so you can tend to the somewhat spoilt area after they're in some other part of the garden.
If you have a Static system, you will need to ensure that the ground is kept relatively free from their waste. Chickens will go to the toilet where they want and if you're scattering food to them through the Wire, the chances are some of it's going to land on a nasty!
Concrete based Runs are obviously good and be hosed down and Larger Runs, as in 40 x 40 feet etc., will pretty much self clean with the weather, but may still need a raking through in Summer.
I tend to clean as I go, that's to say, when I'm feeding them or collecting eggs, if I see anything obvious, I'll pick it up etc. Maybe a bit basic, but if you have an old pair of gloves, you can pick up those 'harder ones' and dispose of quickly before the flies start getting a tad hungry!
I then tend to have a big cleaning day where I will change all the wood shavings, get a soft broom to take any Spiders webs off, clear out the toilets for the Compost Heap and spray around with appropriate cleaners and / or treatments.
If there are reasons for some people giving up on their Chickens after a few month's, the cleaning chores has to be one of them. When you first get Hens, it's the old 'We'll clean them out Mum' from the Kids and the OH usually avoids it at all costs! It's better to know now that it can be a bit gutty, but just think of the fun you get out of having Chickens in the Garden and those lovely eggs you eat all year round!