Cleaning Out The Chicken Coop

“I am a first time chicken owner. I would like to know about cleaning out the chicken coop. How often do you replace the shavings and scrub out the boards / nests / roosting areas for your chickens. They seem to poop on everything all the time! Thanks,” ~ Lisa

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for the question and I’ll go into some detail for the benefit of those who are brand new to keeping chickens. You’re right, chickens poop everywhere and they do most of it at night. If possible build a droppings pit under their roost so that you can easily rid the coop of the majority of the mess.

Any type of removable surface, preferably something water proof, placed under the roost to catch the droppings will make sanitation easier for you. To keep the flock out of the mess you can place netting or some such thing around the pit.

Of course, you’re still going to need liter material on the floor of the coop. It will keep the actual floor cleaner, dilute the smell from the manure and give the chickens something to scratch at. You can either;

~ Put in a lot to start with and remove only what is necessary as it gets soiled.

~ Put in a little and remove and replace all of it once every week to two weeks.

~ Put in a little and add a fresh layer as needed to all be cleaned out once or twice a year.

Many shredded organic materials can be used.

We use straw because it’s easy for us, choose what works best for you. Do not use sawdust because it’s hard on the chicken’s respiratory system and do not use oak shavings because they are toxic. Also, do not let the litter get moldy; mold is dangerous for your birds.

On the subject of mold, this is where in-depth cleaning is absolutely necessary. It is much better to never let anything in the coop get moldy, prevention is imperative here.

To kill the mold you’ll have to use a mild bleach solution and then rinse everything very thoroughly with water. The problem is that the flock cannot tolerate the fumes so they would have to be out of the coop for up to a week. Unless you have two coops, be vigilant that mold never has a chance to grow anywhere within the coop.

As for cleaning the walls, boards and the like, do it as necessary. Use a solution of mild detergent and water. Again, rinse with plain water thoroughly. Regular sanitation should keep everything relatively clean so this should only need to be done occasionally. A few times a year should be sufficient.

Thanks for the question Michelle, best of luck with your flock.