I currently own 9 chickens – which makes keeping the odor under control an important task. I keep my birds on a dirt floor which requires regular maintenance. A clean coop will not only keep odors down, but it will help ensure your chickens stay healthy.
Before I begin to tell you step by step how I clean my chicken coop, let’s talk for a second about square footage. When it comes to how much room you give them, the bigger the better. If your animals are going to live their entire lives in a cage, the least we could do is make their home as big as possible for them. Having a large space will also allow you to have more time between your cleaning routines.
Cleaning The Coop
I do this entire process with my chickens still in their pen. There’s no need to move them. In fact, they actually help me throughout the process by spreading out what I lay down.
The first thing I do is look for areas of excess moisture. This is usually around where their water is kept. Sometimes, one of the holes they’ve dug is filled with rainwater. Moisture is not a good thing to have in a dirt coop. It’s a gathering place for flies and other irritating flying insects. Wetness around poop and food can cause maggots too – which is gross.
For areas of excess moisture, I use a product called Sweet PDA Horse Stall Refresher. I get this product, in fact, I get all my products, from Tractor Supply. This stuff works great and instantly absorbs the moisture. I just keep throwing it on until I can see that the liquid is fully absorbed.
The next product I use is Barn Lime. As you can see if you click on the link this is a very cheap solution for a messy home. According to the manufacturer, it’s safe to use in chicken coops. What I do here is sprinkle it throughout the entire floor space.
Waukesha Barn Lime neutralizes the soil’s acid, helping to eliminate odors. This product also kills parasites and its eggs. It helps make for a cleaner, healthier coop.
After I’ve laid out all the Barn Lime I cover the entire floor of the coop with Pine Shavings. I like to use the flakes rather than the fine shavings. This is where the girls love to help out. While I use my Shrub Rake to spread the pine out, the birds are expertly using their feet and nails to distribute it along with me. The shavings can also be spread with a cultivator if you prefer.
I like to use pine shavings because it’s a great absorber. Their coop doesn’t have a roof on it so when it rains, the ground obviously gets wet. The pine shavings help absorb all moisture and keeps the place from turning into a smelly mud hole.
DE is a coop lifesaver. It’s safe for them to ingest. In fact, quite often, I’ll mix it in with their scratch grains so they can ingest it and it’s contained in their poop. DE is great for keeping flying insects away.
I did an experiment when I first started using diatomaceous earth. I was having a lot of trouble keep flies out of my rabbit pens. Flying insects were having a field day in their poop catching bin – and I couldn’t stand the sight. I simply sprinkled DE over their poop bins and the bugs went away!
Chickens also love taking a diatomaceous earth bath. I fill one of their holes with it and they love sitting and rolling around in it. It helps coat their feathers and keeps them free of flies too.
That’s all that I do to keep the place clean. Usually, this is done about once a month. It can be slightly time-consuming but it works wonders for keeping the flying insects away and the smell down.
After I’m done with the floor, I work on their sleeping quarters – which is pretty easy. They have a base that slides out. I grab it and dump the contents into my wheel barrel. I access their nesting box through the outside door and use a garden hoe to clean out the nasties and have them fall directly into the wheel barrel. Once that’s done I dump the contents of the wheel barrel in the woods.
If needed, I hose the tray down – but the great part of my technique for their bedroom – is that their poop doesn’t stick to everything. I make them a cozy bed of pine shavings. Between that and a heat lamp, the poop stays dry and is easy to clean up.
So, after the tray is cleaned out, I simply lay fresh pine shavings over it and their nesting boxes.
The Chickens Appreciate It
There’s nothing nicer than going to bed with fresh sheets. Seeing the birds play around in their dry, fresh smelling floor is satisfying to me. I like to make sure all my animals are happy animals.
Check out this photo of their freshly laid dirt coop floor. Don’t they look so happy? Yes, those are some of my rabbits in the raised cages. Why do I keep my rabbits in my chicken coop you ask? Read my next blog post to find out!