One of the most important factors in helping your hens stay healthy is cleanliness. A build-up of litter in the coop is a breeding ground for bacteria and disease. Having a freshly cleaned and disinfected coop going into winter will help keep your hens healthy. Here is a basic list of areas in your coop that may need special attention while cleaning:
- Feeders and waterers
When cleaning your coop, you should follow a basic cleaning process to make your efforts worthwhile. Make sure to wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment: dust mask, eye protection, and rubber gloves.) Start the process by removing anything that can be removed: feeders, waterers, nest boxes, perches.
Next, remove all bedding material and sweep from the top of the coop to the floor removing any cobwebs and other debris. You may find that a scraper or putty knife will help get debris out of the corners. Use the scraper to loosen any caked-on droppings. Sweep again to remove any additional debris.
Using a garden hose spray down the entire coop (again from top to bottom) to remove any dust and small particle debris. Using an all-natural cleaning agent (one that is safe to use with animals), scrub the entire coop top to bottom paying close attention to corners and areas where your perches and nesting boxes attach to walls. You may need to have the scraper handy in case there are hidden dried droppings. If you find extra stuck on droppings make sure you get them scrapped off and re-scrub with the cleaning agent. When you are certain that all debris has been cleaned off the surfaces you can rinse the structure, again top to bottom. Squeegee or sweep out any standing water and let the structure air dry completely.
Now it is time to focus on the equipment that was previously inside your coop. Using the same method as previously stated, scrap and scrub all nesting boxes, perches, feeders, and waterers thoroughly. Rinse well and let them air dry completely. You may like to use boiling water to help sanitize the corners of nesting boxes and any area where equipment attaches to the coop. Let all equipment air dry completely.
Now is a good time to inspect your equipment. Are there any cracks in the waterers? Are the feeders a bit rusted? Is there any rotten wood or holes in the coop? Are the vent coverings intact? This is the perfect time to replace any worn equipment and repair any holes in the coop that might allow a predator or cold draft to enter.
It is finally time to put your coop back together. After making certain that the equipment is completely dry, replace nesting boxes and perches. Place fresh bedding in the coop. Knowing that the temperatures will be dropping, now is the perfect time to add additional bedding (approximately 2 extra inches) to act as additional insulation on the floor.