Coop Refresher: All Natural & Organic

Coop Refresher: All Natural & Organic

Yes, it’s true. You can make your own organic, all natural coop refresher, and it won’t even cost you a million dollars.

 

While I love the commercial coop refresher products you can buy, there came a day on the farm when we NEEDED something to squelch the stench in the rabbit coop and the chicken coop.

 

And by squelch, I mean eliminate completely. We needed a coop refresher and we needed it NOW.

 

(Want more chicken keeping goodness? Grab The Backyard Chicken Bundle (TM) – it’s 3 full-length e-books, plus checklists and recipe books. All for the price of one. Yes, a 90% discount. You can’t beat that. Get it here while it’s on sale.)

 

It was one of those hot fall days when you never know what to expect – it can be 80 degrees during the day (yeah!) and a kit-and-chick-killing 42 degrees at night. (Here’s how to prepare your chicken coop for winter).

 

We keep the coop very clean, but at those temperature swings, it doesn’t take much to make me worry.

 

After we cleaned out all the straw, I wasn’t satisfied – something was needed to make the coop extra clean.

 

Now, here’s the thing. We live 45 minutes from ANY sort of store that might sell a commercial chicken coop refresher.

 

And it was Sunday evening. Running to town in order to buy something like a chicken coop refresher just wasn’t going to happen.

 

But something needed to happen – fast.

 

So, I improvised. And it worked so well, that we now ONLY use my favorite organic all-natural coop refresher recipe on the farm.

 

And the best part?

 

It costs less than a few dollars, and last a good long time. And your chickens will be happier and healthier for it.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

Organic all-natural coop refresher is easy to make at home. If you need a quick chicken coop refresher spray recipe, this is perfect for backyard chicken beginners!

Making Your Own All-Natural Coop Refresher

So, the purpose of a chicken coop refresher is to soak up any animal waste and neutralize the odors so your chicken flock doesn’t breathe in ammonia or other fumes that can harm them.

 

Now, I don’t have anything against commercial chicken coop refresher products.

 

But I don’t think they’re always necessary. I think – no, I KNOW – you can achieve the same results for a coop refresher with basic ingredients you probably have in your home right now.

 

That day that one fall evening when I was in a panic, it dawned on me that two simple ingredients – flour and baking soda – could produce the same effect we might spend a lot of money to solve.

 

Think about it – flour is extremely absorbent. We all know that from making bread.

 

If you use organic flour to make your own coop refresher…well, you’ve got an organic solution to your smelly chicken coop.

 

(Want more chicken keeping goodness? Grab The Backyard Chicken Bundle (TM) – it’s 3 full-length e-books, plus checklists and recipe books. All for the price of one. Yes, a 90% discount. You can’t beat that. Get it here while it’s on sale.)

 

Baking soda is the gold standard for neutralizing odors – that’s why we’ve kept it in our refrigerator since our childhood.

 

Why couldn’t it also be used in a homemade coop refresher to neutralize odors from chicken waste?

 

Well, it can. And it costs less than $1.

 

SHAZAM.

 

Particularly if you’re worried about using diatomaceous earth or something like lime, this combination can be a good solution while not sacrificing a clean chicken coop.

 

While the flour and baking soda particulates won’t hurt your flock, it’s still a good idea to allow the dust from your all natural coop refresher to settle (so to speak) before allowing your hens back into the coop.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

 

The ratio of flour to baking soda in your chicken coop refresher

Now, I’m kind of making a production out of this all-natural coop refresher idea, but the truth is the ratio of baking soda to flour is not as precise as, say, the ratio if you were baking.

 

Typically, I go for a 5-pound bag of flour and mix in 1 small box of baking soda in a 5-gallon or painter’s bucket.

 

Brands don’t matter, just make sure it’s fairly high quality and not the bottom shelf who-the-hell-knows-what’s-in-it brand (I’m looking at you, Dollar General Clover Valley brand of flour. You can literally smell all the chemicals in that “flour.”)

 

Mixing baking soda with flour, I found, makes it easier to sprinkle the chicken coop and sweep out than if it were either ingredient alone. (Check out these awesome FREE chicken coop plans!)

 

Once you’ve put both ingredients into the bucket, thoroughly mix (I use a feed scoop, you can use a big spoon if you don’t have a scoop), and get to sprinkling.

 

You’ll notice the smell start to neutralize fairly quickly, assuming you’ve done a good job cleaning your coop as thoroughly as possible. Learn how to clean your chicken coop like a pro!

 

(If you have puddles of urine everywhere, then you might need just a tad more coop refresher. Or a few bucketfuls.) And if you’re having problems with flies in the chicken coop, click here to read how to keep flies out of the coop.

 

Sweep out, resprinkle the coop refresher, and sweep out as necessary. I personally resprinkle a final layer of my homemade coop refresher and put straw on top. You can do whatever you feel is best for your flock.

 

It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s cheap. I guess for once, you really can have all three. Happy sprinkling!

 

herbs for backyard chickens

More Chicken Raising Resources:

 

Learn More about Types of Chickens with the Backyard Chicken Bundle!

The Backyard Chicken Bundle is a unique ebook bundle with every resource you need to start raising a flock of healthy hens! (Total value $250)

Included in the bundle are:

  • 5 individual ebooks with over 40 gorgeous full color photographs, charts, and recipes for all-natural coop cleaners, layer feeds, herbal first aid salves, and more.
  • 34 page Herbal Encyclopedia to growing 30 different herbs for your hens right in your own backyard
    E-books naturally complement each other so you have information at your fingertips.
  • 3 downloadable checklists to save your flock from bad weather & predators, and to keep them healthy while molting.
  • 1 Apple Cider Vinegar for Backyard Chickens video that shows you step-by-step how to make organic apple cider vinegar in your own kitchen.
  • Information you can TRUST by a recognized backyard chicken expert featured in Reader’s Digest, Glamour, and on major news networks like ABC, CBS, & NBC. And START spending every possible minute playing with & enjoying your pets (without the worry)!

Click here to learn more about the Backyard Chicken Bundle!

Backyard Chicken Bundle

 

Bugs Bugging Your Pets? Here’s 3 All Natural Essential Oils You Can Use To Keep Bugs At Bay!

Bugs Bugging Your Pets? Here’s 3 All Natural Essential Oils You Can Use To Keep Bugs At Bay!

Today, I’m going to show you how you can use essential oils to prevent and deter insects that can bother your pets.

 

With some notable exceptions (which we’ll talk about below), essential oils are safe to use on and around your pets when diluted with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil (on large animals, I’ve been able to put them directly on depending on the situation.)

 

Naturally, when using oils, you want to remember safety first – when in doubt, dilute. Oils are powerful stuff!

 

In this article, we’re going to talk about keeping pet-annoying insects at bay, including:

 

  • Fleas
  • Mites
  • Ticks

 

We’ll cover using oils with dogs, chickens, and large animals.

 

A word about cats: Certain oils, when used in large quantities, can harm our feline friends, so we won’t be including cats in our discussion today. Citrus oils, in particular, are known to cause problems with feline livers, preventing them from functioning correctly.

 

We’ve diffused citrus oils (bergamot, orange) around our two cats a couple times a week, and always give the kitties a chance to leave the room. Our cats have been fine, but I would hesitate to diffuse oils consistently in a closed room with our cats, and I would not personally use citrus oils directly on them either.

 

I recommend you speak to a knowledgeable vet before using any essential oils on your cats.

 

Now, on to the bugs we’ll eliminate today!

 

Get Rid Of Bugs That Bother Your Pets

 

When it comes to fighting bugs and getting rid of bug itchies, lavender essential oil is your best bet. It counters all the insects we’ll discuss, and it’s soothing enough to use. Lavender also promotes healthy skin, so you can use it topically on your pets (diluted with coconut oil).

 

To prevent insects like fleas in your home, you can diffuse lavender as well – and as a bonus, it’ll make your house smell nice (and help you destress….or help your kids stop climbing the walls).

 

Fleas

When someone asks me about preventing insects on their pets with oils, they’re usually thinking of fleas.

 

One summer, we had a TERRIBLE flea infestation in our home. I cannot say how it started….but it started.

 

Lavender was my go to – and after I constantly started diffusing it, lo and behold our infestation stopped. Immediately. What a relief!

 

Preventative Spray

If you want to an all-natural preventative spray you can use regularly on your pets (particularly dogs), then go grab your favorite spray bottle, and fill it with water.

 

Add 2-3 drops of your favorite lavender essential oil (keeping purity in mind  – DON’T buy these on Amazon. Go with an established brand so you know you’re putting only lavender oil on your pet).

 

Shake before using and carefully spray your pet. Avoid eyes, nose, and ears.

 

You can also use this spray on pet beds and blankets. Allow bedding to air dry so your pet doesn’t get the oils in their eyes or noses.

 

Homemade Flea Collar

Commercial flea collars are full of chemicals….so you might not be so crazy about using them on your pets. You CAN make your own all-natural flea collars with oils, though!

 

To make an all-natural flea collar, grab a clean bandana and add 5 drops of oil evenly spread throughout the cloth. Tie the bandana around your dog to prevent fleas. Re-apply the lavender oil every couple of days as needed.

 

Flea Dip

If things have gotten bad enough, you’ll probably want to give your pet a good old fashioned flea dip.  To make a homemade flea dip, you’ll need:

  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon castile soap
  • 2 drops lavender oil

 

Fill your tub with water (I go for “just barely warm” water so I don’t accidentally scald my pets). Add in 2 drops of oil, making sure to keep your pet’s face out of the water. If you don’t think this is possible, then leave the oil out, and use the all-natural preventative bandana after your pet is dry.

 

Rub in the castile soap, making sure to thoroughly coat your pet. Let sit for a couple minutes, if your pet will allow it. You will probably start to see fleas emerging. It’s a slightly-disgusting-but-satisfying feeling.

 

Hose off the castile soap/lavender water mixture. Dry your pet, and use the all-natural flea collar bandana above to prevent fleas from returning.

 

You can also use cedarwood essential oil in addition to or instead of lavender.

 

Mites

Mites are no good for any animal. We once were given a rabbit with such a bad mite infestation in his ears, he could not walk properly (the infection was giving him vertigo). Since then, I try to stay up-to-date on preventing mites. On our farm, we’ve used oils to prevent fleas on dogs, rabbits, and chickens.

 

Dogs

For dogs, lavender oil is a good option (see fleas above).

 

Backyard chickens

To prevent mites in your chicken coop, a peppermint oil coop spray is ideal. To make the peppermint oil coop spray, grab your favorite spray bottle and fill it with 8 oz WHITE vinegar.

 

Add 5-10 drops of peppermint essential oil, and spray liberally around the coop (making sure to get all nooks and crannies). Make sure your flock is out of the area (the oils are safe, but better safe than sorry). You can read more about using peppermint oil in your coop here.

 

For mites ON your chickens, diatomaceous earth is my go-to. You can read about it here. If you want to use oils instead of DE, 1 drop of peppermint diluted in 4 tablespoons coconut oil is my go-to to promote healthy skin. Apply to the area of concern 2-3 times a day, or as needed.

 

Rabbits

For our rabbits that have mite infestations in their ears, we carefully clean the ears so they’re free of build up. We then follow up with 1 drop of lavender diluted in 4 tablespoons of coconut oil (melt the oil then add the drop of lavender).

 

Rub it on the flesh inside the ear, but only the upper portion – NOT inside the ear. Keep the ears clean regularly, and reapply the coconut/lavender oil.

 

Ticks

Once your pets have ticks, you just have to pull them out. To clean the wound, you can use 1 drop oregano oil mixed with 1 tablespoon coconut oil and apply after washing the wound well.

 

To make an all-natural repellent spray, mix 3 drops of lavender in 8 oz of water. Spray liberally before your pet goes outside, making sure to avoid the face, eyes, ears, and nose. You can also use cedarwood.

 

The CDC has even said that these oils are safe essential oils to repel certain insects, ticks included.

Grow Free Food For Rabbits & Chickens! Here’s How We Did it!

Grow Free Food For Rabbits & Chickens! Here’s How We Did it!

Buying grain for your livestock can add up – ask me how I know.

 

This year, we decided to do something different – we planted a garden to grow greens for our rabbits and chickens.

 

It’s been a success and now we have enough free food for everyone to have an extra bite every day – and it’s lowered our overall feed bill.

 

(Want some help with growing a garden? Grab my #1 Amazon best-selling book about organic gardening, Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening – now available in paperback!)

 

 

We even have one rabbit who is picky about his feed – if it’s not exactly the right brand, he won’t eat it.

 

With the help of all the greens he’s been getting, his weight has picked up – and even on his snootiest “it’s not perfect so I won’t eat it” day, he’ll still chow down on fresh greens.

 

We’ve been using 5-foot by 10-foot raised beds similar to this one, which allows for 50 square feet of space devoted to growing. You can easily replicate this amount of space in your own backyard.

 

What should I grow for free food?

Glad you asked! We’ve had the best luck growing greens – they don’t take that long to mature (30-60 days, depending on variety), and you can grow a lot in a small space.

 

This year, we’ve been growing:

 

 

Some other options include arugula, carrots, and chard. Since rabbits can’t digest cabbage that well, avoid feeding it to them – use it for sauerkraut instead.

 

Bear in mind that you can’t necessarily replace ALL of your rabbits’ or chickens’ diet with greens, unless you can grow a large quantity. You will still likely need to supplement their diet with pellets and hay.

 

For your chickens, you can just bunch the leaves together and allow your hens to peck at the treat as a form of entertainment.

 

For ducks, your best bet is to tear the leaves up and toss them into a clean pool water for your flock to dig out – they’ll love it! Ours look forward to their “treat” every day (shhh….don’t tell them it’s good for them!)

How much space do I need?

 

In a 1-foot by 5-foot area, we’ve grown enough turnip greens to feed our 30 rabbits a healthy supplemental meal every day.

 

The amount of space you will need depends on what species of animal you’re feeding as well as how many – it’s best to start small and build up from there. You can experiment, weigh your harvests, see how your animals do with it, and scale up from there.

 

This fall, we will be devoting about 200 square feet to growing and overwintering greens for our rabbits.

 

Even if you have just a small space, for example, a table like this, you can still grow something – and anything is better than nothing! It adds up after a while.

 

Trust me when I say that getting their greens is the highlight of our rabbits’ day – they look forward to it, and it provides some excitement during an otherwise dull afternoon.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you grow greens to feed your rabbits and chickens? What are your best tips? Leave a comment below!

 

 

3 Ways To Use Rabbit Manure To Improve Your Garden!

3 Ways To Use Rabbit Manure To Improve Your Garden!

As you probably know, we raise rabbits on our homestead, which means we have a LOT of rabbit manure.

 

What you may not know is that rabbit manure is one of the easiest to use, yet super healthy, fertilizers for your garden. In this article, I’m going to show you how to use rabbit poop to improve your harvest.

 

Garden compost made from animal manure does two amazing things for your garden. First, it’s a free byproduct of your animals, so it’ll save money on topsoil and fertilizer. Second, it is a nutrient rich way to help your garden grow and thrive.

 

Why Rabbit Manure?

 

Great question! Unlike other manures which have to be well composted before you can even think of using it in your garden, rabbit poop can be immediately applied to your soil. It won’t burn crops, and can be used as a stand-alone planting medium or mixed with topsoil (although your best bet is to mix it with soil.)

 

As rabbit manure decomposes, it helps build up the structure of the soil, and injects valuable nutrients and organisms into your garden that will promote strong, speedy plant growth.

 

Rabbit manure, in particular, is rich in potassium, nitrogen, zinc, and calcium, and it’s one of the most nitrogen-rich manures out there – so you’ll get lush, green, well-fertilized growth. The potassium will also improve the quality of the fruit your vegetable plant sets.

 

Finally, unlike cow, horse, or pig poop, rabbit manure is odorless – so as you collect it and incorporate it into your garden, your nose (and your neighbors!) will thank you.


Want more awesome gardening tips? Check out my book, Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening.

Organic by Choice


How to Use Rabbit Manure In Your Garden

 

First decide on the source of your rabbit manure. If your kids have pet rabbits, have them collect the rabbit’s waste each day. If you already raise bunnies on your homestead, then what are you waiting for? Go start collecting rabbit manure for the garden!

 

Collecting it is relatively easy, and everyone has their own “system.” One of the simplest methods is to place plastic tubs under your rabbits’ cages and dump them out every day (don’t wait on this – flies WILL lay eggs which will hatch into maggots – GROSS.)

 

You can dump them into a compost pile, or directly into your garden. If you haven’t planted anything in your garden yet, then till the rabbit manure to a 2-inch depth.

 

If your garden is already established, then side dress your plants with the manure – it’s usually best to do this as your plants are flowering and setting fruit. They’ll need all the nutrients they can get during that time!

 

If you just got your rabbits, or don’t want to raise any but definitely want to use bunny poop in your garden, then you might also be able to find rabbit manure to buy. Check with neighbors or even Craigslist in your area.

 

How to Make Rabbit Manure Compost

Not everyone is enchanted with the idea of directly applying manure to their garden. That’s ok – you can compost the rabbit poop.

 

To make rabbit manure compost, mix the poop with other compost ingredients that will decompose, such as fruit peelings (like bananas), bits of leftover food, coffee grounds, and grass clippings, and leaves.

 

Add equal parts of wood shavings and straw, then blend all these things (and other kitchen waste) thoroughly, then add enough water to moisten. Be very careful not to completely saturate the compost pile.

 

Cover with a protective tarp and turn every two weeks. If you’re hot composting (which is unlikely with rabbit poop but, hey, stranger things have happened!), then water regularly to maintain heat and humidity levels. Keep adding to the pile and turning and blending it until it fully composts.

 

If you’re cold composting, then simply turn the pile until the manure and other ingredients have turned to sweet-smelling soil.

 

Making Rabbit Manure Tea for A Larger Garden Harvest

 

A third option, other than putting rabbit manure on your garden directly or composting it, is to make a tea fertilizer. Luckily, this is pretty simple.

 

In a 5 gallon bucket, place a burlap bag. Fill the bag about half way with rabbit manure (or however much manure you have on hand), and close it tight with string.

 

Add water to the bucket until the burlap bag is full submerged. Allow your tea to “brew” for 5-7 days, stirring daily. Once the allotted time has passed, simply remove the bag of manure from the bucket.

 

You can use the tea directly on your garden, and compost the rabbit manure, or use it on your garden as well.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you use rabbit manure in your garden? Leave a comment below!

Check Out My Other Rabbit Articles:


Do you love gardening, herbs, natural remedies, self sufficiency, and/or homesteading? Learn how to grow 30 different herbs in this encyclopedia! Herbs In Your Backyard is a digital book, delivered to you INSTANTLY!

Herbs in Your Backyard


 

Real Homesteader Stories Episode 3: They Call It A Bird Brain For A Reason + Baby Bunny Update!

Real Homesteader Stories Episode 3: They Call It A Bird Brain For A Reason + Baby Bunny Update!

This week on Real Homesteader Stories, I tell you about our duckling drama & an update on the baby bunnies!

 

It’s been a couple weeks since my last Real Homesteader Stories (TM), and that’s because I’ve finally got the cough that wouldn’t die to go away. BUT I’m back now, with more stories about our farm!

 

Things were interesting as we tried helping a renegade duckling that broke free of the brooder and swallowed a string. You also get to see the baby bunnies (including the fosterlings) up close & personal!

 

(BTW, if you’re wondering, after three weeks of misery, I applied Eucalyptus + Melaleuca daily for 4 days using a roller bottle. Neat, no dilution. Learn more here.)