Otherwise when the straw starts looking dirty, it's time. Although extremely messy bedding does get removed each morning and the nesting boxes are refreshed as necessary, after awhile the straw doesn't look fresh anymore and I know its time for a full coop cleaning.
I clean my coop the natural way. You wouldn't spray chemicals in your baby's crib to clean it, would you? Of course not. Nor do you want to use chemicals when you clean your chicken coop, no matter how dirty it gets.
Products such as Sevin Dust, household bleach, aerosols sprays, creosote and other potentially hazardous products have no place in or around your chickens, who are extremely susceptible to respiratory illness. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural products you can use to keep your coop clean, smelling fresh and free of mites and other parasites.
Orange Peel & White Vinegar Coop Cleaner [recipe HERE]
New bedding (I use straw)
Fresh Cut Herbs (or dried)
Lavender Coop Refresher [recipe HERE]
I always pick a nice warm, sunny day. Here's my down and dirty, quick and easy coop cleaning routine:
In the AM
1. Rake out all the old bedding (I use straw) and spread it in the sun to air out. Sometimes if most of the straw isn't dirty, I'll reuse it since really only the straw under the roosts tends to get pooped on.
Did you know that UV rays (sunlight) are the BEST way to kill pathogens, mold and bacteria? After a day of sitting out in the hot sun, the straw is dry and can be put right back into the coop.
3. Then sweep out the dirt. (Since this is just a interim cleaning, I don't scrub down the whole floor with the white vinegar/water mixture I would use for a deep clean, I just get it 'broom clean').
4. I use a plastic paint scraper and bucket to scrape any poop off the roosts, nesting box area or other flat surfaces. Take this opportunity to run your hands along the roosts to check for splinters or mites (black spots or blood smears indicate the presence of mites so an extra sprinkle of DE is in order).
5. Then I spray the roosts and nesting boxes with Orange Peel White Vinegar Coop Cleaner. [Click here for the recipe...] It's an all natural cleaner/insect repellent. The orange peel, cinnamon and vanilla all work as a natural insecticides, so spray liberally.
6. Open all the doors and windows and leave everything to air out until just before dark. (I set up some nesting baskets in the run and keep the chickens out of the coop for the day so I can air it out well.)
In the PM
1. Generously sprinkle food-grade Diatomaceous Earth on the floor and in the nesting boxes. [Click here for the benefits of DE...] and sprinkle some coop deodorizer if you wish. Wear a mask to avoid breathing the airborne dust and take care to keep the chickens out while you are sprinkling the DE because the dust can be a lung irritant.
2. Replace the straw bedding on the floor either with the aired-out straw or new straw so you have about a 6" layer. Replace the straw in the nesting boxes.
3. Sprinkle fresh (or dried) herbs in the nesting boxes and liberally on the floor. [Read here for the benefits of using herbs in your nesting boxes and coop...]
4. Spritz with Lavender Mint Coop Refresher Spray. [Click here for the recipe...]
5. Let the girls in for the night - and listen to their contented coos over a nice, clean, scented coop. And just maybe, they'll each lay you a beautiful egg the next morning!