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How To: Disinfect the Chicken Coop (and Why!)

How To: Disinfect the Chicken Coop (and Why!)

How To Disinfect the Chicken Coop 

Between the Avian Influenza outbreak and COVID-19, “biosecurity” has taken on a new meaning. We don't need hazmat suits to clean the chicken coop, but simple precautions like disinfecting the chicken coop regularly can go a long way towards keeping your chickens and your family healthy and safe.

There are 4 simple steps to good chicken coop biosecurity:

  1. Prevent disease coming into the flock
  2. Protect yourself from diseases by practicing good hygiene (and disinfecting!)
  3. Keep your flock healthy
  4. Don’t spread disease to other chickens

You can read about these steps in our articles on Chook Pen Biosecurity and Chicken Coop Hygiene.

Is a disinfectant necessary in the chicken coop?

Chickens pick up diseases from each other and from the environment. Some of these diseases, such as salmonella and avian influenza, can also make humans sick. Using a disinfectant may seem extreme to some chicken keepers, but it goes a long way towards protecting the health of your family and your birds.

It is necessary to:

  1. Disinfect any equipment that is shared between chicken keepers, such as second-hand or borrowed items. This stops diseases being transferred between flocks.
  2. Disinfect any equipment used by sick birds, including feeders, drinkers and hospital cages.
  3. Disinfect the coop as part of the regular cleaning process to prevent disease spreading within the flock.
  4. Disinfect equipment that will come into contact with chicks, as their immune systems are not yet fully developed.

Even if you only disinfect the whole coop a couple times a year, it is important for ensuring diseases don't spread within the flock. And fortunately, disinfecting the chicken coop is a very easy step to add to your coop cleaning routine!

What type of disinfectant to use in the chicken coop

Whatever disinfectant you use in the chicken coop should be safe for chickens and have no withholding period for eggs or meat.

Veterinary disinfectants are the best choice because they are made for use around animals and tested against common animal diseases. Virkon S in one example of a veterinary disinfectant that is safe for use in the chicken coop. Bleach can also be used.

Natural products can also act as disinfectants, including vinegar and citric acid, but may not be effective as veterinary chemicals.

Adding a quick disinfectant spray to your usual cleaning routine is all it takes to kill many potential poultry illnesses.

How to use disinfectant in the chicken coop

Whatever disinfectant your choose, you should always read the instructions and take all necessary safety precautions, such as wearing a mask and gloves.

  1. Remove chickens, Feeders and Drinkers from the coop along with any food items.
  2. Remove all bedding and droppings
  3. Thoroughly clean all surfaces and equipment to be disinfected, including under loose surfaces.
  4. Allow to dry completely.
  5. Spray the dry coop with your disinfectant of choice, following product instructions. Rinse if required by product instructions.
  6. Allow the coop to dry completely.
  7. Replace bedding, Feeders and Drinkers.

Most disinfectants, and especially natural products like vinegar, will be most effective if combined with sunlight, which is also a natural disinfectant. Spraying the coop and letting it dry in the sun is a great way to kill pathogens and other nasties in the coop.


Is disinfectant safe for chickens?

Always read and follow the product instructions for the disinfectant you are using. You can even call the manufacturer to find out if the product is safe for chickens. 

But no matter how safe a disinfectant is, even if it is something edible like vinegar, you should always put chickens out of the coop before disinfecting and should never spray disinfectant onto animals or their food or water. This includes Feeders and Drinkers. The coop should always be fully dry when replacing bedding after disinfecting.

How often should I disinfect the coop?

Disinfect your coop whenever you clean it.

Happy chicken keeping!

Rachael at Dine a Chook

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