Chickens can carry an assortment of bacteria and fungi that can spread throughout a chicken coop to other chickens. If illness occurs among any member of your flock, it can spread quickly between birds and may cause significant health issues or death for some. Sterilizing your chicken coop is important to keeping your birds healthy and stopping the spread of illness.
Sterilizing the Coop
Illness can spread very quickly among poultry, especially if you have young birds. You will need to sterilize your chicken coop any time you bring new chickens into the coop or after chickens have been ill. You should sterilize your chicken coop at least once a year even if you have not had any ill or new chickens. When you sterilize your coop, remove all of the birds from the coop and place them somewhere else secure. Birds who are still ill will need to go in a separate area, a quarantine, away from the healthy birds.
Cleaning the Coop
Before you sterilize your chicken coop, remove all consumable, disposable and waste items. Drain water containers completely. Use a shovel to remove manure as well as the dirt soiled by bodily fluids. Sweep the coop thoroughly to remove as much potentially contaminated material as possible.
Choosing Your Disinfectant
You cannot sterilize your chicken coop without a quality disinfectant. Bleach will work to kill germs and bacteria, but it does contain harsh chemicals. Vinegar will disinfect your chicken coop without potentially exposing your birds to hazardous chemicals. If you have had illness, consult your veterinarian about a proper sterilizing agent. Have him recommend a specific product for you to use based on the exact bacteria or disease you are trying to eliminate from your coop.
Sterilizing Your Coop Accessories
Remove any type of food dish, water container or toy from the coop. Take all of the items you need to disinfect out of the coop and rinse them thoroughly with a water hose to remove as much dirt and disease as possible. Depending on the sizes of items, you may be able to submerge them in a tub of disinfectant; allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes before removing them from the disinfectant and allowing them to dry completely. If your items are too large to soak in a tub, you can also spray items down with disinfectant, making sure to completely cover the items in disinfectant. Allow the disinfectant to sit on the items for at least 30 minutes, then rinse with your hose and allow them to dry. Once they've dried, you can return them to the coop.
Sterilizing the Coop
Spray down the inside of the coop thoroughly using a water hose. Make sure to remove as much of the dirt and debris as you can. Use a scrub brush to remove dirt anywhere it is caked on. After this initial rinse, you're ready to begin sterilizing the coop. Pour your disinfectant of choice into a spray bottle. Spray disinfectant liberally around the inside of the chicken coop, making sure to cover every inch of the floor, walls and ceiling of the coop. Allow the disinfectant to dry naturally. Do not rinse or wipe away the disinfectant before it dries. When the coop is completely dry you can replace bedding and other disposable items with new materials.
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Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.