Sep 22

The Best Way to Keep a Chicken Coop Clean

Urban Chicken Coop

Urban Chicken Coop

A clean chicken coop is essential for the health of your flock. Dirty coops not only encourage disease and pests, they also stink and become a potential health hazard to humans (as well as making your neighbors unhappy). Keeping a clean coop doesn’t have to take a lot of work. Here are some of the best ways to keep your chicken coop clean:

Removable Floor

Install a removable floor under the chicken roost. As chickens love to spend most of their time outside, the majority of their inside time is spent on the chicken roost. The roost is also where they sleep at night. Because of this, almost all their waste builds up in one spot: Under the roost.

Some people design their chicken coops to be ‘floorless’ under the roost. Where the floor would have been, instead there is chicken wire. The wire allows their waste to pass through, keeping it from building up inside the coop. Once deposited outside the coop, it’s easily shoveled out into a compost pile.

Others design a floor (or even a back wall where the roost is located) that can easily be removed for cleaning.

Deep Litter Method

Use a deep litter method. For this method, you simply keep adding fresh bedding to the chicken coop floor. The chickens, as they walk around, naturally ‘compost’ the waste for you, but because you’re consistently adding new, clean bedding to the top of the pile, conditions stay surprisingly sanitary.

Once or twice a year, shovel out the coop really well when using this method. The waste you shovel out can be added directly to your garden and it won’t need composting first, as the chickens did the work for you.

Bedding for the Coop

The kind of bedding you use in your coop makes a big difference. There are all sorts of things you can use. Some bedding is made specifically for chicken coops and other animal cages, while other bedding can be as simple as used newspapers.

One thing to keep in mind when picking out the bedding you’ll use is that it needs to be something that absorbs moisture. The more moisture it absorbs, the cleaner (and cleaner smelling) the coop will be. One good bedding to use is straw (not hay). My personal favorites are wood shavings (use pine or plain wood but not cedar) and wood pellets. I use a combination of the two of these together.

I add extra bedding to the floor of my coop during cold spells to help keep my chickens warmer. I also add a nice thick layer of wood shavings to the nest boxes to make them comfortable and clean.

An added benefit to having a clean coop is that you’ll also get clean eggs. My egg customers ask me if I wash my eggs. I don’t. They’re clean because their environment stays clean.

Chicken coop cleaning is a necessary part of chicken keeping. Once you get a system down, it will become second nature and won’t even seem like a hassle. And keeping a clean coop will keep everyone happy…you, your flock, and your neighbors!


Kerrie Hubbard lives in Portland, Oregon with 10 chickens, 1 cat and several small raised bed gardens. Her website, City Girl Farming ( ) is an urban guide to raising chickens in the city and other small spaces.

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