If you own a flock of chickens, then naturally you are going to want to know how often their coop will require cleaning. This information is good to know as it can set your expectations and help you to prepare and acquire all the supplies that you will need in advanced. With chickens to care for, I decided to do some research. I’d like to present what I have been able to find here today.
So, how often should you clean a chicken coop? Cleaning a coop requires daily, weekly, and yearly maintenance. Every night, you must dispose of any leftover food and water. Once a week, dispose of the old droppings and replace the bedding with fresh good quality material. 1-2x per year you will need to conduct a thorough deep clean.
With all this being said, some coops are dirtier than others and require a thorough scrubbing more frequently.
The size of your flock will mostly determine how often you should clean your coop.
If you own a large flock of chickens, expect to clean the coop more regularly as it will naturally get messier.
Chickens are relatively low maintenance with what some may say as having basic needs.
But it is necessary to clean their coop regularly, at least to keep pests like rodents and insects at bay.
Keeping chickens can attract rats and mice to your property, but only if you neglect to clear away leftover water and food scraps at nighttime.
If you frequently clean out the enclosure, your birds will enjoy better sleep and will have lots of energy to run, play, forage, and engaged in all the activities healthy chickens do.
Deep cleaning, on the other hand, can be done once or twice a year.
Let’s now examine more in-depth how you should clean the chicken coop and how often in the sections to follow.
How Often Should You Change The Bedding In A Chicken Coop?
It is recommended to change the bedding in a chicken coop at least once a week.
This is important as a build-up of chicken poop can cause a build-up of ammonia, which can lead to numerous health complications for your flock – it can harm your bird’s respiratory system as well as their eyes.
Plus, soiled bedding will also carry a lot of bacteria and germs; which again is not good for your birds to be around. Equally, it is not something that you will want to expose yourself to when you do later clean it out.
It is possible to get sick from cleaning out your chicken coop, so it is important that you stay on top of regular cleaning and taking all of the necessary safety precautions when doing so (wearing gloves, masks, wearing a different pair of shoes and clothes to clean etc).
You must consider the type of bedding you use in the coop; many owners make the mistake of opting for cheap bedding, thinking it is more cost-effective.
However, sub-standard bedding can also lead to health issues for your birds leading to further expenses in the long run.
It is best to buy good quality bedding to ensure the well-being of your chickens.
You must acquire dust-free bedding for your chickens as poop and dust are a dangerous combination.
You want absorbent bedding, which will help your coop stay cleaner for longer.
Hemp is an example of excellent material because it is porous and acts as a natural pesticide, keeping your coop free of bugs.
This is an excellent, cost-effective hemp bedding to purchase on Amazon. This bedding can absorb up to 4x its weight – making it 2x more absorbent than pine shavings, animal wood chip bedding, and/or straw.
Your birds will appreciate good bedding as this will help them sleep better at night.
From a keepers perspective, it is also easier to clean.
You’ll notice it clusters together when soiled, making it easy to observe what bedding requires changing.
Equally, when it comes to the physical act of removing the bedding – it is easier to scoop out and take away.
What Do You Clean A Chicken Coop With?
When it comes to cleaning your chicken coop and nesting boxes, you want to use natural cleaning agents.
Never use bleach or products you may use within your household as these will be toxic for your chickens.
Vinegar is just as effective as bleach and many other disinfectants you would find in your local supermarket without the harsh effects.
This is an example of a great vinegar solution on Amazon of the vinegar you want to buy. It is industrial strength so will last you longer – remember that a little goes a long way.
For regular strength white vinegar, to create a cleaning solution you can mix equal parts, water, and vinegar.
For an industrial strength, you can get away with 1/4-1/8 vinegar, with the rest being water.
In the following section, we will look at how to use this natural cleaning solution when washing out your chicken coop.
Beyond just the solution, you will need specific gloves and a mask when cleaning the coop. You should wear these only when you are cleaning, take them off afterward and keep them near the coop for reuse.
Equally, you should have a specific pair of shoes/boots that only are warn inside the coop. this will prevent transfer of germs and bacteria that may be collected on them as you clean.
Other items that you will likely need include a shovel (to remove the bedding) and a wheelbarrow) to take away and transport the soiled bedding.
Brushes and scrapers are also effective at removing caked waste from the coop.
How Do I Clean My Backyard Chicken Coop?
You must approach cleaning your chicken coop in the same way you would clean your own house – regularly and often. You want to avoid dirt building up in the coop.
Cleaning your backyard chicken coop and nesting boxes necessitates exact steps.
You must be thorough and use only natural cleaning solutions such as the equal parts vinegar and water solution referenced above.
When you are cleaning the coop, you must move your birds to a safe location before you begin cleaning. This will keep them safe during the cleaning process and also enable you the room and access you need to thoroughly clean.
Let’s look at the order of your deep-cleaning cleaning routine. This should be done 1-2x per year depending on the size of your flock:
Step #1: Muck Out The Bedding
Put on your gloves and a face mask and take everything outside of the coop. This should include feeders, drinkers, perches and nesting box trays.
From here, you want to remove all the used bedding. You can do this with a shovel, or manually by hand depending on how much you have.
Place this soiled bedding outside of the coop, or inside a wheelbarrow for transportation.
When it comes to what to do with the soiled bedding you have removed, you have a couple of options.
You can compost chicken bedding, so you can add it to your compost bin if you have one. Otherwise, you will need to carefully dispose of it.
Step #2: Remove Waste
Remove any remaining dirt and loose feathers and scrape off as much of the chicken feces from the coop as you can.
Bear in mind that nothing will soften the poop – water and cleansing solutions won’t do the trick; it is a stubborn substance.
You must apply only elbow grease to remove the majority of the poo off floors and walls.
Step #3: Spray Down The Coop
Use a hose to spray down the coop. If there is any dirt remaining, repeat the first step.
Step #4: Disinfect The Coop
Use the vinegar and water solution to disinfect the enclosure and the nesting boxes.
Apply the solution with a cloth and then take a broom or a hand brush and scrub the walls and floors to free any leftover stains, dirt, debris, and chicken poop.
Step #5: Spray Down The Coop Again
Spray the coop down once more with the hose – this will help to remove any remaining waste that was loosened in the prior steps.
Step #6: Sweep Away Stagnant Water
After rinsing the coop down with the hose, sweep away any stagnant water but allow the coop and nest boxes to air dry.
Fresh air will help to lessen the vinegar smell, and the sunlight will further the disinfection process.
Step #7: Lay Fresh Bedding
After the coop dries (after a couple of hours or so), lay down fresh bedding. This helps to keep the floors clean and warm.
Consider getting bedding that is absorbent, such as hemp, as chicken’s droppings consist of 85% water.
Once the bedding is laid down, you can move your chickens back into their home; your birds will really appreciate their freshly cleaned house.
How often you should clean your chicken coop depends on the size of your flock. Generally, it will require daily and weekly maintenance.
All leftover food scraps and water should be removed from the coop each night and containers washed.
You should replace the bedding once a week, with a deep clean once or twice a year.
If you have a larger flock, you may need to deep clean more often. Aside from eating well and getting plenty of exercise, chickens need a clean coop.
Bedding must be dust-free as dust can contribute to your birds having respiratory infections, which is something every chicken keeper will want to prevent.
When deep cleaning your bird’s enclosure, you must use a gentle solution – vinegar is ideal here.
Bleach is always tempting to use, because of its efficiency, but it is toxic to your birds. Elbow grease will get a lot of the hard to remove chicken poop off walls and floors.
Hemp makes ideal bedding because of its absorbency; it is also a natural pesticide.
Having good quality bedding is crucial as it helps keep the coop cleaner for longer.
It is possible to get sick from cleaning a chicken coop. Chickens, like other animals, can carry diseases (the most common being Salmonella, E-Coli, and Listeria) and a dirty coop can fester a lot of germs and bacteria. However, getting sick from cleaning the chicken coop is greatly minimized if the coop is cleaned regularly and you take all the necessary safety precautions (wear gloves and dust masks, change clothes and shoes after cleaning, etc). If you do get sore and achy after cleaning a chicken coop, this could be from the hard labor involved with shifting heavily soiled bedding – it does not necessarily mean you have contracted an illness.
It is advised to wear a mask when cleaning a chicken coop. This is because bedding can be very dusty and many small particles can be released when you are swapping it out. A mask is a good, affordable, and safe way to protect your lungs and respiratory system.
- Can Chickens Stay In The Coop All Day?
- Do Chicken Coops Need Windows?
- What Should Be Inside A Chicken Coop?
- The 2 Best Chicken Coop Plan Books That Anyone Can Follow
- The Best Chicken Coop Plans For 50 Chickens
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.