Reading up on cleaning I have discovered that a minimum of once or twice a year the chicken keeper should conduct a deep clean of the chicken coop. This is on top of a more regular routine clean of the chickens environment which should also occur on a daily to weekly occurrence. It sounds like I will be spending a large amount of time with my marigolds on; however my wife (the darling that she is) assures me that as with all housework and cleaning, these chores can be conducted in a relatively short amount of time if cleanliness is kept on top of.
If your aim is to learn how to juggle chickens while bouncing a beach ball on your nose then the word on the street is to try keeping your chickens in the coop while conducting the spring clean. If you have more modest ambitions like me then I would recommend shooing the chickens out of the coop before starting. Just make sure the back gate is shut!
Once the chickens are safely out of the coop, then the spring clean may begin. The following tasks should be part of this routine (This is definitely a dampener to getting my chickens ):
• Sweep the floor and walls of the coop
• Remove all the dirty litter and waste
• Dust out the cobwebs and clean any windows
• Clear all ventilation screens and flaps
• Replace chicken bedding and litter
Cleanliness in the chicken coop is my main concern and my research has shown that some chicken keepers have also used air fresheners (maybe a meadow fresh fragrance!) within the coop. It has been popular for flower baskets and containers to be hung around the chicken coop too, this will keep the wife out of mischief and stop her from telling me I have missed a bit! While I reside closer to the spotless coop crowd, the use of automatic air fresheners appears a step too far even for me. Be careful in your pursuit of the immaculate chicken coop to ensure that the hygiene products that you are using are chicken friendly.
Your chickens should then be ready to return to the coop.
Now that all of the chicken housing essentials have been identified and thoroughly researched I can begin to look at how to maintain a good healthy environment for my chickens. This leads me to the chicken coop housekeeping; when considering this, the behaviour of the chickens needs to be taken in to account. Chickens can be considered as the typical teenager, by this I don’t mean the typical stereotype of a moody teenager, but the teenager that is content to leave empty food containers around the house and scatter clothing from the basement to the attic.
While chickens and teenagers can be content within this environment, these conditions can begin to attract pests and can present health hazards for both myself and the chickens. For chickens to remain healthy, they need clean and dry bedding, clean nesting material, clean and hygienic feeders and drinkers, along with fresh air to breath. Unfortunately I cannot throw the chicken bedding and nesting material into the washing machine (I think the wife might be having words with me) and reused, these need to be replaced as part of a regular routine. This routine requires some tools, and luckily for me these tools are already available around the house (I just need to find them first). These include:
• A brush
• A shovel
• A rake
• A pair of gardening or work gloves
• A bucket or wheelbarrow (this is to carry away the chicken manure and other waste)
There are a few additional items that may assist with improving the speed and reducing the health hazards of the chicken coop housekeeping. These include:
• A housekeeper
• A dust mask
• A hose (where the coop has a solid surface floor – i.e. cement)
• A vacuum cleaner (in dry areas only)
We have an old vacuum cleaner that we previously used cleaning up following various DIY projects that could be used for getting into the corners in the coop much easier. This is perfect for the big spring clean days. I would not recommend using the same vacuum cleaner as you use for your daily chores around the house, as moisture from the coop cleaning can spoil the vacuum filters which then require regular replacement.