Winter Chicken Coop Care Series, Part 1: Clean your coop.

Cold weather tips for backyard chickens and coopsWhether it’s your first winter keeping chickens or your fiftieth, it’s helpful to have a checklist for preparing your backyard coop for the change of seasons. Of course, what’s on your list will depend on a lot of things including your particular climate, coop design, chicken breeds, routines, and more.

In this four-part series, I’ll share what has worked for us to get our backyard chickens and coops ready for the cold. I’ll also include several ideas offered by The Garden Coop Facebook community and others on how to keep your flock healthy all winter long. So here we go. . .

Clean your coop before the cold weather sets in.

How to clean out your chicken coopIn the Pacific Northwest, winter brings constant rain and occasional snow, so we’ve found it a lot easier to do a good cleaning while there are still some dry days in the fall. Even if your winters are mild, a good seasonal coop cleaning in the fall is never a bad idea.

  • Remove all the old bedding and litter from the nesting boxes, henhouse, and run and replace it with a few inches of fresh wood shavings or straw. (See Kate’s comment and my reply below about the benefits of keeping deep litter going in the run into the winter.)
  • Dust everything down with food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) to prevent mites from settling in. Remember to wear a dust mask for this part.
  • Scrub the waterer and feeder. Might as well do this while the water from your backyard hose isn’t bitter cold.
  • Clear the roof of leaves and debris. On the corrugated polycarbonate roof of The Garden Coop, The Garden Ark, and The Basic Coop chicken coops, wipe off any muck that’s built up near the drip end so that rain and snowmelt can run off easily. This is also a good time to tighten any screws and patch any leaks that may have developed over time.
  • Plan to clean the henhouse regularly throughout the winter. Your chickens will be spending more time inside. So remove their droppings often to keep moisture from building up in the air, which can irritate your chickens’ lungs and cause frostbite on feet and combs.

What steps do you take to clean your chicken coop for the season? We encourage you to share your ideas and tips in the comments below.

Next up, Part 2: How chickens keep themselves warm — and how you can help them.

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