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Coop upkeep

April 1, 2018

Coop upkeep
 
It’s spring cleaning time!
Pick a nice sunny day and thoroughly clean your coop. Scrub the roosts, remove all bedding, sweep the floor, and disinfect the hen house. Scrub and disinfect all feeders and waterers.
 
Cleaning your coop on a regular basis is key to the health of your flock. It is also important for you and your family’s health. Dirty, uncared for coops can lead to disease and death of your birds, possible rodent infestation - not to mention flies!
Providing them good food and fresh water is another key component of their well-being.
Below is what we do to keep our small flock of 7 hens happy and healthy.
How often you will do each of the tasks depends on the number of chickens you have and the size of your coop (the more chickens and the smaller the coop, the more frequent).

Daily

  • Make sure the feeders and waterers aren’t empty.

  • The water should be fresh and clean at all times (don’t let slimy greenish stuff grow in it).

  • Remove the big poops under the roosts and any broken eggs.

  • Have a look at your chickens, they must be active and healthy. If not, separate the sick one and see your veterinarian.

  • Collect and refrigerate the eggs (don’t wash them!).

  • If you let the chickens out during the day, make sure they are all back in their coop at dusk and close the door.

Weekly

  • Refill the feeders.

  • Empty, rinse, and refill the waterers.

  • Refill the bowls of calcium and grit.

  • Clean the hen house: remove dirty bedding (put into the compost pile) and add fresh one.

  • Rake the run: remove poop, leftover vegetables...

Twice a year

  • Deep cleaning of the hen house:

    • Remove all bedding, scrub and disinfect roosts, disinfect floor.

    • Add new fresh bedding.

  • Scrub and disinfect all feeders and waterers.

Disinfecting means using a disinfectant to kill all bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Some examples of chemical disinfectants are: ordinary household bleach, professional grade Lysol, and Virkon S (always follow the instructions on the label).

Use common sense when interacting with your chickens who naturally carry all sorts of bacteria:

  • Always wash your hands after handling chickens, eggs, and bedding.

  • Have a dedicated pair of shoes to visit your chickens. Use shoes covers for your guests.

  • Keep other animals out of the coop. Make sure your cats and dogs don’t go in the chicken area so they don’t track chicken poop all around the house.

  • Also dogs shouldn’t eat chicken poop – although most find it to be a delicacy!

Happy spring cleaning!

Did you know?

Clipping the wings of your chicken may be needed if she is a good flyer and a 6ft fence doesn’t deter her from exploring the neighborhood. You should not clip her wings as a workaround for fixing the fence or if she doesn’t show the desire to fly away.
Clipping her wings actually consists of cutting part of the primary flying feathers. There is no surgery involved. The primary feathers have no blood in them. It’s a painless procedure similar to clipping your nails.
This video shows how to identify the feathers to cut and how to cut them. It’s helpful to have another person to hold the chicken while you inspect and then cut the feathers. The key is to take your time to identify the feathers to cut, and have a very sharp pair of scissors.

Before starting the procedure, have some gauze pads and styptic powder (alternatively corn starch would do) nearby. In case you clip another feather by accident and it bleeds, stop the bleeding immediately with the styptic powder.
Always clip both wings. The goal is to prevent her from taking off, not to have her fly in circle. If you clip just one wing, she can lose her balance, injure herself, and be confused when trying to fly.
Note that the feathers will regrow after her next molt, so you may have to clip her wings every year if she still shows the desire to fly away. But in my experience, they don’t try flying after having their wings clipped once.

 

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