When I first started keeping chickens over 6 years ago, I was very vigilant about maintaining a healthy and clean coop environment in an all-natural way. Since we are consuming their eggs and the occasional stew-hen, I don’t want any harsh or toxic chemicals coming into contact with them while they are in my care unless absolutely necessary.
Fast-forward to the present day, as a busy homemaker, our flock doesn’t get quite the attention they once did. That being said, I have been able to adapt and streamline my coop cleaning duties with the help of a few of my favorite natural cleaning ingredients, and fast cleaning tricks all while upholding holistic health for our chickens.
The bedding I utilize for the coop is Pine Shavings.
Pine Shavings are absorbent and have a nice neutral smell to them. I buy them by the bales at our local Tractor Supply Store for under $5. Another perk of using pine shavings is that they are compostable and work great to build up the soil in the chicken lot. If you decide to use Pine shavings, I recommend the large flakes with no dust. The dust can be irritating to the bird’s respiratory tracts.
I change the bedding as needed. This works very well. If I let the chickens out during the day – they will not be using the potty in the coop, but if I leave the chicken in their coop for an extended period of time – it’s going to need some cleaning.
When I clean the coop – I take out all of the pine shavings and throw them around the coop, onto the ground. It breaks down and makes a wonderful soil-builder for our poor woodland soil. We have little to no topsoil, so the breakdown of the pine shavings mixed with the chicken manure goodness – is proving to be a recipe that is adored by beautiful native grasses, plants, and trees.
This soil will feed the vegetation, which will provide food for our goats and a place for bugs to live, which will feed the chickens, and one day is food for us (in our eggs and elderly spent layers).
Once the pine shavings are removed – I spray the coop spray with vinegar if it’s in need of deodorizing. It acts as a deodorant, anti-bactericide, and pest deterrent.
I also like to utilize Diatomaceous Earth before putting the pine shavings in to help with lice, parasites and other crawling critters. It will not bother the birds if it’s under dense cover but can be problematic if airborne. You can also do a Lime Wash inside the coop which would act in the same way but limit possible airborne DE if your birds stay in their coop or run. Since our free range, they aren’t in the coop but at night.