The Number One Priority in Chicken Coop Maintenance is Ensuring the Health, Welfare, and Safety of Your Flock.
Chicken coop maintenance plays a huge part in caring for chickens. Here are some great tips to guide you.
First, let's talk about food. They say that we are what we eat, well if you’re raising chickens for meat and harvesting them and/or eating their eggs then you are what your chickens eat.
Maintenance starts with meeting their nutritional needs.
Chickens waste a huge amount of feed through pecking at it and scattering it as well as contaminating it with their droppings etc., as you’ll soon find out.
But you don’t want to skimp on the chicken feed that you use just to save a few pennies.
We suggest that you use hanging chicken feeders to cut down on waste.
This won’t completely eliminate all waste. But it will make a huge difference.
By buying a well balanced, high quality feed, you’re providing the complete feeding diet that your flock needs to stay happy, healthy and produce lots of those high quality eggs we all want.
I can’t stress enough the importance of fresh clean drinking water for your flock.
Chickens drink a lot of water and they drink more during the hot months of summer and when they’re laying more.
Chickens will play in their water, drop stuff in it and even poop in their water if it’s in a place where they can do so.
We strongly suggest that you use a hanging waterer for your flock.
Chickens will NOT drink their water if it is too warm, dirty, or has turned green from algae so always check to make sure that their water is clean and fresh.
Cleaning Feeders and Waterers
If you need to clean your feeder or waterer due algae formation, droppings or whatever, you can safely do so with a “food safe soap” and water or you can use bleach and water as a good all around disinfectant.
If you use bleach and water, the ratio should be 1:10. This means 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.
A good amount that we usually use is ¼ cup bleach to 2¼ cups of water.
This should be plenty to clean your feeder and waterer.
Make sure you mix it in a well ventilated area (preferably outdoors) and wear gloves and eye protection since bleach is caustic and can cause burns.
Always use appropriate caution when working with chemicals.
Cleaning the Coop
Occasionally cleaning your coop is a big part of chicken coop maintenance because your chickens will poop in the coop.
This is just a fact of life that you’re going to have to get used to. In a well ventilated coop, it shouldn't smell too bad.
If it smells strongly like ammonia, you either have a ventilation problem or you need to clean your coop.
Small coops usually need to be cleaned of droppings weekly and a thorough cleaning as needed.
With the larger walk in coops, you may not need to clean it thoroughly more than every two months, but do a visual inspection weekly just to be certain.
Any shavings and manure taken out can be added to your compost pile to make excellent and free fertilizer for your plants and garden.
For those of you with larger coops that don’t want to clean your coops even 6 times a year, there is a method known as the Deep Litter Method (DLM) that you can check out.
This method will allow you to go 6 months or more between cleanings.
This is where you basically just keep adding the litter of your choice (pine shavings work well) to the existing litter and manure and mix it in or let your flock mix it in for you until it gets about 12” deep or if it gets too damp and begins to have an ammonia smell to it.
At that time you can remove some, but not all of it to your compost pile and add fresh litter.
You do need a well ventilated coop for this method since it does raise the humidity as well as providing additional insulation to trap the heat.
Using this method may even reduce the risk of your flock acquiring coccidiosis possibly through the higher concentration of ammonia in the litter.
When cleaning your coop, it's a good idea to wear gloves and use some type of dust mask so you're not inhaling anything that gets stirred up.
It's also a good idea to get into the habit of washing your hands whenever you've been handling your chickens or working around their coop.
Chicken Coop Maintenance and Repair
During your weekly inspection, it is a good idea to physically inspect the coop itself to make sure that everything is maintained in good repair and working order.
Do this with an eye toward any areas that may be a hazard to you, your family, or your flock as well as ensuring that there are no areas where your chickens can get out or predators can get in.
Chicken Coop Security
If you have a larger coop or a coop shape that will accommodate it, an automatic chicken coop door closer is a nice feature and they're relatively inexpensive for the added convenience and security they offer. To learn more about automatic door closers you can click on the link above. These guys have a pretty good product (actually 2 models) that are priced well in our opinion.
Collect Your Eggs
This is probably the most enjoyable part of chicken coop maintenance. Going around every day and collecting your payment for all of your hard work in the form of an ongoing supply of fresh, delicious eggs.
You've worked hard taking care of your flock and providing them a safe and secure home, now it's time to collect your reward, enjoy!