Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Maintaining the Coop

Making sure we have happy, healthy hens is a priority around here. I love my chickens and we spend some quality time every day taking care of them but we only clean out the chicken coop once a year. 

Cleaning day arrives. My minion starts by emptying out the storage side of the hen house.
 We use the deep litter method of coop maintenance which means we use a deep layer of an absorbent substance in the coop and add to it over the year. There are all sorts of good ways to take care of your birds and we all have to do whatever works for our situation as long as the hens are healthy. I talked about it in this post and you can read up on it in various web articles and magazines. But, once a year it must be cleaned out and a clean layer added for the health of the birds.

A little privacy please I'm trying to pick out a nest box!
As you can see, over the course of the year the litter in the house has gotten quite high. This lady doesn't see a thing wrong with it, in fact she's quite annoyed with me for taking her picture.

My minion again wheeling out the last barrow, he broke his shovel trying to load too much at one time. :(
Be sure to wear a dust mask when shoveling chicken litter you really don't want to breath in all that nasty dust. 12 wheel barrows full of litter went onto the compost pile. The garden will be amazing next year. (I let this compost for a year just to be sure it's not too hot for the garden.)

Clean as a whistle!
This is where I come in. I scrub, and I do mean scrub with a brush, the whole thing with a solution of vinegar and bleach and then rinse like crazy. We have to wait for a hot day so the coop will dry completely before we go to the next step. We don't want it to be damp at all, that would not be good for the birds.

Next step is a dusting of diatomaceous earth in the nooks and crannies. The idea here is to get any hidden bugs that might have been missed by my scrubbing. There seems to be some recent controversy about using diatomaceous earth with your birds and I'm only telling you what I do not telling you what you should do. I'm certainly not a scientist or chicken expert so do whatever you think is best. I don't use ANY chemicals or pesticides in my gardens or coops/runs so I have to find the best solutions for my situation. I don't feed this to them but they do peck at it when I put it down and it's never hurt them. 
On top of that goes a 6 inch layer of peat moss. I use peat moss because this is eventually going to end up in my garden and because it's super absorbent. The hens love to roll around in it too!

Spreading the peat moss, my minion is almost done for the day.
Fresh hay for the nest boxes and Bob's your uncle, we're done until next year! Over the course of the next year I'll add herb clippings whenever I'm trimming the garden - lavender, rosemary, lemon balm. Clean hay gets dropped when I clean the nest boxes and some clean peat moss to help with absorbancy. There's never any bad smells or flies and I've never had a diseased bird in 15 years (fingers crossed).

How do you handle your hen house litter?

Linking up to Clever Chicks Blog Hop

Until next time,


  1. Thanks for walking us through your process- I feel for your "minion" and am wondering where I can get me one! LOL

    Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  2. great info for me, I am just starting the process of building a coop. It sounds like a great way to go


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