Now is the perfect time for spring cleaning in the chicken coop. It’s also time to check for needed repairs and check for chicken parasites that may have taken up housekeeping.
Check For Chicken Parasites
It’s a good idea to check your flocks throughout the year but especially in spring when they are more active and more subject to parasites, such as chicken mites, or injury. If you find any evidence of chicken parasites (internal or external) in one you must treat all with the appropriate application. Some may require more than one application and may require that you not eat the eggs until after the final application, so be sure to read your labels carefully for proper dose and usage. Even if you cannot eat those eggs, there’s no need to waste them. If they’re fertile, you can incubate them or set them under a broody hen.
Time To Clean The Coop
It’s important to know how to clean a chicken coop right. Spring is the ideal time to give the coop a complete cleaning from top to bottom and to compost the debris for the garden. There are natural cleaning agents such as a solution of apple cider vinegar, or lemon and other citrus fruits, which not only cleans but adds a nice fragrance. If there has been an infestation of chicken parasites, however, you will need to use stronger measures with a bleach solution and insecticide to completely get rid of those parasites. This will need to be repeated to fully kill the parasites.
Cut Down on Odors and Chicken Parasites
Agriculture lime is a tried and true method of keeping down odors and chicken parasite infestation. Applying it to the floor, under the bedding, will help keep things under control. This is not intended to spread throughout the coop, run area or in the dusting bowls; it’s intended for use under the bedding materials. The agriculture lime or hydrated lime is compostable. Just make sure you are using the proper product. This is something you would find in your garden center or farm store.
Check the entire perimeter of your chicken run for any gaps under the fence or bent wires that could allow chicken predators an easy entry point. Check posts and fence boards and replace if those are leaning or rotting. If your coop is a wooden structure, check the roof for winter damage and repair those now to prevent leakage. Check your doors, boards, and latches to make certain those are secure, and if you have a raccoon population, add another latch that operates differently from the existing latch to make it more difficult for them to figure it out. They may be able to open one, but with an added latch they are more easily discouraged.
Make Sure There Are No Burrowing Critters
Check the coop floor if it is dirt to make sure there are no burrowing holes from mice, rats or other critters. If you do have a mice or rat infestation, now is the time to get that under control before they begin their breeding routines. Do not use any poisonous preventions anywhere around your chickens or pets. There are live traps available that are effective, and if you intend to do away with the captured culprits, those traps will easily slip into a bucket of water to drown them. If drowning does not suit your sensibilities, then use a method that does, but do not think you can catch and release. Those critters will infest other areas or find their way back to your property. It’s obvious that anywhere there is grain, there will be an attraction of grain-eating critters, so it’s wise to keep your grains in metal bins that cannot be breached. Keep all pet foods picked up after those animals have eaten and use feeders that close after use to deter pests.
Make Sure Dust Baths Don’t Fill With Water
If there are a lot of dusting bowls in the chicken runs, fill those in so they are not just puddles in the spring rains. If you cannot fill in all those dusting areas, then cover with pallets or buckets. Those puddles create a scenario for disease as the weather begins to warm. Make sure you repair any hoses that you may use for watering your chickens so they are not leaking in and around where your chickens gather. If there are water leaks in the watering reservoirs, replace or repair those. Prevent water gathering around the feed and water station. Set your station higher and place a pallet or other object beneath to keep the chickens out of that standing water. Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes that also spread disease to your flocks.
Put Away And Inspect Winter Tools
If you have used heated waterers, heaters or lighting during the winter months, check those thoroughly. Check for frayed wires, bent prongs, and efficient operation before storing. Replace any and all that are showing signs of age or damage. If you do it now, while fresh on your mind, it will be less worry when those are needed again.
Make Sure Insulation Is In Good Repair
If you have insulated coops, thoroughly check the insulation to make sure it is still secure and has not drawn moisture, chicken parasites or varmints. If you detect any of those mentioned, remove that insulation and destroy it. We do not recommend insulating coops because it sets up a scenario for illness, parasite and varmint infestation.
We know there are a lot of chores in spring, but the repairs and improvements you make now will prevent other larger issues in the future. It is always wise to keep things repaired as needed, rather than setting them aside to become larger problems that may be more costly the longer they go without repair and maintenance.
What spring cleaning steps do you use to avoid chicken parasites or predators?