The time of year has come to clean out and winterize the chicken coop! Most often when I speak of the coop, I’m speaking metaphorically, but today I’m talking about our actual chicken coop. Here at the Hall Heritage Homestead, we use a deep litter method. That means we have a dirt floor and basically allow nature to takes its course composting and enhancing the floor of the coop.
7 Steps to clean out and winterize the coop consists of a few steps.
First, the Rooster and I clean out the nesting boxes tossing all pine shavings onto the floor. We move the nesting boxes, roosting bars and feed dishes out of the coop. The chickens stay close by watching our every move.
Next, we rake out the floor of the coop bringing any pine shavings, leaves, hay and poo into the garden cart I hook up to the mower. We then haul this to the garden. It makes great compost for the bed and enhances our soil for next year. I am constantly fascinated at the way God made everything to work together!
Then, we take a broom and extricate spider webs that have collected in the crevice of the roof line. We patch any holes or weak areas in the fencing and make sure it is still safe from predators.
At this point, we spread diatomaceous earth on the remaining floor of the coop and in the dust bathing area. This keeps mites, fleas and any creature with an exoskeleton at bay and away from my chickens.
Now Arkansas winters are not that harsh (unless we get ice) so we don’t need heat lamps or heated water, but we do put hay down. My girls love it and it’s inexpensive. If we don’t have a wet winter, it can last all season. We spread the hay down in patches and let birds do the rest. They LOVE to forage through hay!
Finally, we move everything back in exactly as it was and the birds fill the coop making sure all is as it should be. We add fresh pine shavings to the nesting boxes (don’t use cedar it is toxic to chickens) along with some herbs. Before we call it quits we do one last thing.
We put a wind barrier up in place.
Our coop is open on all four sides so the only protection the birds have from weather is the nesting boxes. With one broody hen and 7 layers, those boxes fill up fast! We buy plastic painters drop cloth. Hang it from the roof line of the coop stapling it in place and cutting it about one foot shy of the ground. This still protects the birds from wind, rain, and snow while giving them the ventilation needed to breathe well.
On a side note: we don’t cover the door, so that’s open ventilation as well.
It’s a hard job, but one that gives this SpoonieChick good exercise. And while I may use a day’s worth of spoons on this job, I’ve got the rest of the season to conserve them until the spring cleaning!
Question: What ways do you winterize your chicken coop?