Get Out the Lime & Salt…It’s Time to Paint the Coop!

No, we’re not making margaritas (although that might be interesting)…We’re going to Whitewash the coop! When someone mentions whitewashing, a long wooden fence and kids toiling away at painting under the direction of the infamous Tom Sawyer is what usually comes to mind. However, traditional whitewashing has long been a standard for maintaining wooden structures…and fencing. Now, you may be asking, “What exactly is traditional whitewashing?” Unlike the modern trends of diluting white latex paint with water to get that “whitewash look” for furniture or interior surfaces, traditionally, whitewashing is done with a mixture of lime, salt, and water – specifically a combination of hydrated lime, a powder derived from limestone, and salt to improve adhesion mixed into water for application.

Lime is used in many applications from kitchen uses like pickling and preserving eggs to industrial & agricultural uses like mortar additive and soil amendment. For 100’s, if not 1,000’s of years, people have used a whitewash mixture to preserve, sanitize, and brighten up wood structures – especially on the farm. We have whitewashed several of our smaller chicken coop/hutches for a few years now, and we have been pleased with the results. Whitewashing provides antibacterial properties along with repellent properties.

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In this case, with a small hutch, it is easier to lay it on its side while whitewashing the inside. It’s so nice knowing that these nosey girls are perfectly safe getting all in the middle of it!

The best part? Whitewash is completely non-toxic for your animals – they can even lick it off the wall with no harm…Of course, there may be reason for concern with a chicken licking the wall, but that’s another issue…Plus, no heavy, fumes or off-gases to worry about – the chickens can come right back in the coop. Or, if they’re like ours, get right in the middle of it while you’re trying to paint.

There are a few downsides to using whitewash. The biggest problem is that it is water-soluble, so it will not work well for outside or an area that may get wet frequently. Another small problem is that it does rub or flake off over time. If you rub against a whitewashed wall, you’re likely to have white on your clothes or skin, but it does not stain and washes out easily. Unfortunately, this means that it has to be redone every year or so. However, it doesn’t take long to do during an annual “spring cleaning” of the coops and is really worth the little bit of extra work.

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Whitewashed Rooster Hutches: Here is a freshly whitewashed hutch drying in the sun. The white streaks are where the whitewash is mostly dry while the other areas are still wet. When it is fully dry, it will look like the temporarily-removed sides in the background.

There are lots of “recipes” online, and most call for 3:1 or 4:1 lime salt ratio mixed with approximately 1 gallon of water. You can review several links below for additional information about whitewashing, as well as the recipes used. Mama Mo frequently wings it on many things with “according to preference” directions; so for our first small projects of the spring (the small extra rooster hutches) we just dumped a cup or two of old pickling lime in a bucket, added water until it was a good consistency, and got to work. When we whitewash the large coops, we will add the salt and be a little more conscientious with amounts used.
We have ordered a large bag of hydrated lime in preparation for more spring cleaning as soon as the weather gets nice again…crazy Alabama weather.

Below is a photo of the dried whitewash interior of the Rooster Hutch. It dries much darker than it looks when it is being applied, so don’t let that discourage you from painting the whole thing!

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Here are several links to great resources regarding whitewashing:

We recommend a quality hydrated lime like First Saturday Lime: A Monthly Organic Pest Barrier – safe for kids, pets, and organic farming.

Wishing you all great spring cleaning success!



Some of the links on Mo’s Mini Farm pages are affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase a product through them we will receive a small commission. There is no extra cost to you! This helps us to keep the information on the website free of charge and to support our farm adventure. Because we value our integrity in recommending products, we only recommend products we have purchased and used. We may occasionally provide links to a product we are considering or planning to purchase, but we will always be sure to clearly state this fact. For more information about our affiliate relationships please see our Affiliates Disclosure Document.


Almost time for Spring Cleaning!

It’s proving slow to arrive, but spring is surely just around the corner. Here at Mo’s Mini Farm in north-central Alabama, we’ve already noticed buds on a few early bloomers. Wonderful thoughts considering it has either rained or been extremely overcast nearly every day for the whole month of February.

Chicken Coop & Brooder Bedding

20151006_172759On our last trip to the farm/feed store, we stocked up on large flake pine shavings in anticipation of cleaning winter out of all the coops. We have found that the large flake pine shavings are the most economical and functional for our needs. We have too many coops and pens to “scoop” often enough for other types of bedding to work well. Straw tends to get too wet here and not dry out fast enough to avoid a moldy mess. Likewise, it seems with our humidity that sand is also not a good option. We tried it several years ago, and it just stayed too wet inside the coop. It does work well for a sandy area in the run where the sun can shine on it, but not inside the coops. Because we have read various opinions and discussed this with other chicken owners in various areas of the country, we feel there are several important factors in choosing the best bedding for your coops:

    1. consider your climate/environment – humid, dry, extreme temperatures, excess rain – when selecting the bedding material that will work best in your area
    2. availability – choose something that you can both acquire and afford regularly
    3. evaluate time requirements – straw or sand may work well if you are able and willing to “scoop” and replace several times a week, but pine may be better if you are more interested in monthly cleanings or even the deep litter method
    4. health of your chickens – always evaluate how your chickens are doing with your bedding choice. Respiratory issues? Impacted crops? Bumble foot?

     

    While we used cedar shavings in our dogs’ houses in the past, we have never used cedar with our chickens since most sources strongly recommend against using it due to the oils that can irritate the skin and respiratory system. Some people say that it smells better, but that aromatic cedar odor can damage a chicken’s more sensitive respiratory system, especially younger birds.

    More recently, we tried aspen shavings in our dogs’ houses because they were having some mild skin irritation, and we had it on hand for using with our rabbits. It worked so much better that we only use it now, and we didn’t hesitate to use it in the brooder when we ran out of pine shavings. 20170517_073442_HDRSimilarly, we now only use aspen in our brooders for at least the first month. It’s much more expensive than pine, but it is the best brooder bedding we have found since it is much drier, has less dust, and absorbs much better than the pine shavings – maybe because the aspen is kiln dried which is nearly impossible to find around here in pine shavings. We feel it’s worth the extra money because we have much cleaner brooders and thus healthier chicks. You can find aspen at most pet stores since it is used with small pets like rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, etc., but we usually buy our aspen at Tractor Supply (better price there).

    Waterfowl Pen and House Bedding

    Since we are in a generally mild climate, our ducks and geese have little housing. We have a few sheds and houses for them to get in, but they typically prefer staying out in the weather – even when we get a little snow. They free range daily, but during winter, when the overnight pen gets more muddy and cold, we spread wheat straw around the principle sleeping areas to provide a little extra warmth. We have always used the same wheat straw in their shed/houses and nesting houses until this year when we couldn’t readily find it at a reasonable price. This year we opted to use mixed “cow” hay in the houses where it doesn’t get very wet. Hay tends to clump & mold much easier and faster than straw which is why wheat straw has always been our choice. We still used wheat straw in the open pen areas, and the hay worked fairly well in the houses, until the recent deluge of rainy weather…nothing has fared well in this current state of mud.20160606_234852

    For the record, we do not use any bedding material in our duckling or gosling brooders. We use the mesh non-slip liners that can be sprayed off and reused since those babies are so messy! But that’s a post for another day…



Some of the links on Mo’s Mini Farm pages are affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase a product through them we will receive a small commission. There is no extra cost to you! This helps us to keep the information on the website free of charge and to support our farm adventure. Because we value our integrity in recommending products, we only recommend products we have purchased and used. We may occasionally provide links to a product we are considering or planning to purchase, but we will always be sure to clearly state this fact. For more information about our affiliate relationships please see our Affiliates Disclosure Document.