In a little less than 2 weeks, we will be getting a brand new batch of baby chicks! Our old hens are gone, and I am determined to be better educated and prepared this time around. We purchased our last flock of hens and brought them home without anything being ready. Yes, some girls might impulse buy shoes, but I impulse bought chickens!
Everything worked out fine in the end, but this time, I want to avoid the stress and hurry of bringing home chickens and not being fully prepared.
For the last several weeks, I have been working on preparing our coop. I want to give our new chicks the best start possible.
In doing some research, I’ve found that it is highly recommended to sanitize and disinfect your chicken coop, before bringing in a new flock, especially if they are chicks. Baby chicks are more susceptible to diseases or bugs that your old flock may have been carrying.
UPDATE: I have to say that I’m not as “disinfectant happy” as I used to be. I mean, if you’ve been dealing with a chicken disease or illness, then by all means, disinfect that coop! But for just every-day-run-of-the-mill dirt? I’m not so sure that you need to “disinfect.” But, I’ll leave that up to you.
Even if you don’t get a new flock of birds this year, it’s a good idea to thoroughly clean out your coop at least once per year anyway. Just add it to your spring cleaning list!
Unfortunately, many sources suggest using bleach as a disinfectant. I don’t know about you, but I really hate bleach. I don’t like using it around our homestead, especially when it comes in contact with our animals. I just can’t imagine that bleach fumes will do the little chicks any favors…
So I was excited to discover that many people suggest using vinegar as a substitute for bleach. That’s right, plain old white vinegar! You can also add several drops of melaleuca essential oil, if you would like. Melaleuca is a powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal oil. (Find out more about my favorite type of essential oils here.)
We have had some unseasonably warm days, so I took advantage of the weather and attacked our coop!
First, shovel and scrape all of the manure, dirt, shavings, cobwebs, and feathers out. It’s important to be thorough in this step, since the vinegar won’t disinfect the actual particles of manure, etc. I found a square shovel to be incredibly handy in scraping the floor. Old, dried chicken manure can be like cement…
Next, take a hose to it! Give the walls, floors, roosts, and nesting boxes a good spray down to remove the fine dust and soften any stuck-on manure or dirt.
Do a final sweeping/scraping of any remaining, softened manure or dirt, then allow the water to drain, or sweep it out the door.
Next, mix up equal parts white vinegar and water in a bucket OR just slosh straight vinegar onto your wet floor. I preferred the sloshing method personally. Then take your broom or brush and give everything a vigorous scrubbing, making sure to distribute the vinegar solution as thoroughly as possible.
Perform a final rinse, then allow water to drain or sweep it out the door.
Open up the doors and windows and allow everything to dry and air out. Sunlight also acts as a disinfectant, plus, fresh air is always beneficial. I have left my coop open for about a week now.
While you have the hose hooked up, be sure to scrub your feeders and waterers and set them in the sun to dry.
This is the cleanest that our coop has ever been. It’s quite a novelty to be able to see the floor, actually. I may or may not be taking a few extra minutes during chores to stand there and admire my shiny chicken coop.
Leaving the doors open has also helped immensely. The air smells fresh and clean. I have a few more things to prepare, and then I think we will be ready. Bring on the chicks!