I actually don’t mind cleaning the coop, especially now that it has sand. It’s like zen gardening. Except with poop.
I’ve found once a week is sufficient, unless I know someone will be coming to see the chickens. Then I do a fresh scoop-out under the roost that morning. The thing about chickens a lot of people don’t realize is that they create way more poop than seems possible, and they seem to produce the most while they’re sleeping. So to someone not acquainted with the avian digestive system, two days worth of poop under the roost will look like two months of neglect. I’ll spare you the photos of that though (if you’re wanting chickens but would like to get a better idea of the kind of mess they make, you can click here to see what three bantams produce in one week). While I clean I set up the exercise pen so the d’Anvers can forage and so I can clean without them, uh, “helping” me.
I start with the roost, since that’s the the area that requires the bulk of the cleaning. Aside from sleeping, they usually don’t spend enough time upstairs to make much mess so I just spot clean the rest of the coop floor as needed. Once everything has been scooped out I wipe down the walls with white vinegar and water to prevent mold growth and sweep any cobwebs out of the corners. Please note the walls are clean. Unfortunately I hadn’t gotten the walls as clean as I thought before we painted, and it stained the paint. I’ll probably end up adding another coat when we renovate the run, but for now I just have to live with it.
I also check the nesting boxes and change the shavings out periodically. They don’t need changing every week though because my guys are really good at keeping their eggs and nests clean. The shavings just need a light fluffing and the boxes are good to go. That’s it for the interior!
Next I move on to the run. For three tiny chickens they sure can make a big mess. Despite keeping the feeder at a low setting there’s always a huge amount of scattered seeds in the sand, and they’ll have created little sand piles everywhere.
The first thing I do is take everything out and lay it in the grass. If it’s raining, or seems like it might start, I put the feeder inside the coop. If there’s any poop on anything I’ll scrub it down, but otherwise I just dust them off. Once a month I’ll scrub everything down with vinegar water though. I also check the food and water levels, and refill them if they’re close to empty. I scoop the dish area of the waterer out as best I can, but the chickens are good at getting it as full of food as possible and I’ve had to learn to live with their water being a bit cloudy.
Then, as you can see in the first picture, I just climb right into the run. The first time I cleaned out the run I leaned in through the doorway and it nearly killed my back. I start at one end and work my way through, sifting through the sand with a kitty litter scoop.
Then I smooth the sand out and put everything back in its place. I’m still battling the shavings in the sand from when I used shavings in the coop, but every time I clean I get a few more out so hopefully those will be gone soon.
That’s it! From start to finish it takes me about an hour and a half, which really isn’t bad.