I have to admit, deep cleaning the hen house is not my favorite chore to do on the farm. For this reason, I only do it a few times a year. This is my process on how I can get away with cleaning it only a few times a year and what I do in between cleanings.
The materials i use:
- Pine shavings (NEVER CEDAR)
- Horse stall pine pellets
- Diatomaceous Earth
- Sweet PDZ
- A flat end shove and a wheel barrow
- Face Mask
dEEP CLEAING THE HEN HOUSE
The first thing I do is either let my chickens out to free range or I block off the nesting area so they cannot get in the way. Chickens are naturally curious and like to get under my feet to see what kind of goodies I can dig up for them. You will save a lot of time if they stay out of your way. I have a small board that I use to block off the entrance and throw a snack for them to keep them busy for a bit.
Before you start digging around in the dirty hen house, I recommend wearing a face mask. The dust can get into your lungs and make you sick.
Before I start removing the used bedding, I take a broom and wipe down the walls and get all of the cob webs off and it helps to keep it some what clean. Chickens are dirty little things and get dirt everywhere! In the spring, when the temperature is a lot warmer, I do a deep clean on the walls and windows. That way the warmer weather helps dry out the inside of the coop and prevents moisture.
I take my flat end shovel and scrap out all of the old shavings, manure and straw. This goes into the wheel barrow and straight out to the compost pile. I make sure to get out as much as I can without being too picky.
adding the fresh materials
After I get out as much of the used shavings and straw as possible, I take my diatomaceous earth and sprinkle it all over the floor. This helps keep the bugs under control. Now DE can be quite controversial and I encourage you to do your own research and see if it is something you feel comfortable using. I am comfortable using it on the floor of our hen house.
After DE, I add a nice layer of Sweet PDZ on top. Sweet PDZ helps keep down odors that is produced by the droppings of the chickens. I get mine at tractor supply and one bags last me through multiple cleanings.
After deep cleaning the hen house, adding the powders, it is time to add the bedding
After the powders are applied to the bare floor, I usually add horse stall pine pellets. These are great for keeping moisture under control. They absorb moisture an turn into sawdust after they get wet. I did not add them to the clean floor this time, as I was out. They are an optional addition. If you do not have them, you do not have to add them. Anything I can add, to keep the ladies safe and dry, I will.
On top of the pellets, I then add a thick layer of pine shavings. I add between 6 to 8 inches of shavings, you want a thick layer. After pine shavings, I add a thick layer of straw. And I spread a layer of DE on top and mix it in.
Throughout the next few months
Each week, I will add a few inches of pine shavings on top of the existing shavings. I then sprinkle a snack for the chickens on top. As they are eating their snack, they scratch up the shavings and mix everything together. This helps keep the betting fresh and turned over.
Since I have implemented this system, it has saved my sanity. I recommend finding a system that works for you and your chickens.
Caution: wet bedding
If your bedding gets really wet, say during a storm, you may need to clean it out and start over again. This happens to me every once in awhile. The ladies sometimes bring in a bunch of water on their feathers and shake off inside the coop. For their safety and comfort, I cleaned it out and started over.