Knowing How to Clean Your Chicken House, and When

Part of the Keeping Chickens For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

Looking after your chicken housing is important for the health and well being of your birds. At the very least, your chickens need the following conditions to stay clean and healthy:

  • A dry space.

    Avoid using water for cleaning unless the floor drains well, the day is warm and sunny and you can use ventilation to dry the house quickly. Try to avoid getting anything wet that won’t dry before nightfall.

  • Clean litter and nest boxes.

    Keep nest boxes clean at all times as well, and frequently replace any dirty or lost bedding. Clean nests make clean eggs and happy hens, and clean eggs are healthier for both eating and hatching.

    Don’t clean the nest of a hen you’ve left to sit on eggs. If you notice smashed or leaking eggs, remove them and any soiled nest material. If the area around the nest becomes filled with droppings, you may want to pick them up. After the eggs have hatched, immediately clean out that nest box completely.

  • Clean food and water dishes.

    Brush out any caked feed, wash and rinse them and then spray them with an anti-bacterial spray, or use a commercial poultry-safe disinfectant, following the directions on the packaging. Rinse and dry in the sun if possible, and ensure that the feed containers are totally dry before refilling them.

    Keep algae, slime and scum from accumulating in water dishes. You may need a bottlebrush to clean these items. Check the nipples of automatic water devices for rust or hard-water scale build-up; if needed, soak them in a lime and scale remover liquid. An old toothbrush is handy for cleaning nipples and other small surfaces.

A general purpose cleaner and a cleaner for windows are fine for cleaning chicken houses. Most of the common human household cleaners available at feed stores and your local shop are safe for general use. Steer clear of ammonia, though, which isn’t good for the lungs.

Unless you’ve had a disease problem, don’t worry about disinfecting the general quarters. If you have had this problem, ask a veterinarian what products you need to use to eradicate traces of disease, and always read and follow the label directions exactly.

If you have a problem with lice or mites, use specialist products stocked by animal feed suppliers to deal with them. To get rid of any mite eggs that are lodged in cracks and crevices, run a lighted blowtorch over them.

Deep clean everything once or twice a year, when it smells or gets wet or when the bedding gets too high. Start your cleaning by shooing out the chickens. Then take the following steps:

  1. Scrape off the roosts.

  2. Dust out the cobwebs.

  3. Brush down the walls.

  4. Remove all the dirty litter.

    Some people lightly dampen the litter to lessen the amount of dust that gets stirred up, but don’t overdo the wetting. Removing litter is easiest when the litter is dry, and so wear your dust mask.

  5. Sweep the floor with a damp broom.

  6. Wipe light bulbs carefully after they’ve had a chance to cool.

    The bulbs get coated with dust, which reduces light.

  7. Clean any windows.

  8. Wipe off any screening that protects windows or ventilation flaps.

  9. Place fresh litter in the house.

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Keeping Chickens For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

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