Three Secrets to a Clean Chicken Coop

March 27, 2018


I get lots of questions from readers on a wide variety of topics ranging from health issues, questions about hatching and raising chicks, to questions about egg laying and chicken behavior. But one question I've started getting more and more frequently is "How do you keep your coop so clean?" The question has come in the wake of my shiplapping the entire inside of my coop and painting every visible surface white. 

I admit that as I was nailing up the shiplap last summer and stirring the gallon of white chalk paint, as I was hanging curtains and adding various decor to the walls, I had a moment where even I questioned the folly of my decision. I mean we all know that chickens, like all animals, have a propensity to be ...well, dirty. And white isn't usually the color of choice when you're dealing with puppies, children or ...chickens. 

So to back up a bit, I am not ashamed to say that I'm addicted to the popular HGTV television show Fixer Upper. But when I broached the subject with my husband that I wanted to paint our entire kitchen white, encase the kitchen in subway tile and shiplap all the walls in the house, he put his foot down. We did end putting white subway tile in the kitchen, but as for the rest of it, he said, "if you want to do all that, do it in the coop." And it was game on. So shiplap in the coop it was. 

In the ensuing months since I finished the coop interior, I've been mocked a bit by "real" homesteaders who apparently think that a lack of dirt means I'm not showing my real life on social media. That having a cute coop indicates that I'm not a chicken keeper to be taken seriously. I get that. I agree that having dirt under your fingernails or on your muck boots is a badge of honor, but I just personally love having a nice clean coop. And I don't think they have to be mutually exclusive.

I've even been questioned by some who don't think my chickens actually live in the coop - I guess they think it's just a set I use for photos??? (Um, I promise you, they do live there!) Seriously. It's my coop. And in fact not only do my chickens really live in the coop you see in my photos, I spend a fair amount of time in there too with them, and I happen to enjoy that time much more with the coop being clean and cute.
Then there are those who ask if I clean the coop every day, how long it takes, etc.  (No, I don't clean my coop every day....seriously? Who has time for that?)

I've been doing this chicken thing for a long time and I have come to realize that it's entirely possible to keep your coop clean, with very little effort. So in case you also are tempted to shiplap your coop (or even if you're not), here are some tips to help you keep your coop clean. 

Straw


Over the years, I've tried several different types of bedding for my coop and just keep coming back to straw. It's nice and warm in the winter, soft for the ducks to sleep on and smells so nice. It's also not dusty like shavings are. But you need to use actual straw - the type you buy in bales - not the chopped straw product you might see at your feed store in those square plastic bags. That stuff is crazy dusty! But real straw bedding is the cleanest bedding I've found. And if you can keep the dust down, you've just won half the battle.

Feed and Water Outside


The second important way to keep your coop clean is to never put feed or water inside the coop. Never. For any reason. All it does is attract flies in the summer, rodents in the winter, and make a huge wet mess year round. We live in Maine. It gets cold, really cold. And it stays cold for a very long time. And my chickens have to go outside every day in order to eat.  And they do. I have a covered area in the run that I wrap in tarps in the winter to block the wind and snow which is where I put the feed and water. I set it up on a pallet to keep it out of the mud. And that keeps all the water and food mess outside where it belongs.

Outdoor Activities


That leads me to my third tip for keeping your coop clean - outdoor activities. The easiest way to keep your coop clean is to keep your chickens out if it as much as possible. In reality, they should only be inside while they're sleeping or laying eggs. Period. The rest of the time, sunup to sundown, they should be outside. So the more things you can do to lure them out the better. Things like a swing, outdoor perches, logs, stumps, treats, piles of leaves or pine needles to go through, a dust bath ... anything to make them want to spend their time outside. And to poop outside.
I do keep a feather duster in the coop to brush away any cobwebs and to periodically dust the rafters, windowsills and top of the nesting boxes. I also keep an old paint scraper in the coop to scrape any poop off the roosts, but other than that, I only do a full coop cleaning a couple of times a year. That means raking out all the bedding, scrubbing down the walls and roosts, washing the floor and maybe even some minor paint touch-ups. The rest of the year I just rake out the dirty bedding and replace it as needed and refresh the nesting material in the boxes from time to time.
I promise you, keeping your coop clean - even if your coop is white - isn't hard nor is it time-consuming. And trust me, even if you have a pristine, clean, cute coop, you're still a "real" chicken keeper! 
Orange Peel Vinegar Coop Cleaner Recipe
Natural Aspen Nesting Pads
Coop Confetti® Dried Herbs for Hens

What you Need:



Royal Ostrich Feather Duster | White Pine Shiplap | Putty/Paint Scraper | White Chalk Paint  
Aspen Nesting Pads | Womens Edgewater Muck Boots

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