Chicken Chores & Whitewash

Over the weekend, we accomplished a pile of chicken chores.  I finished our Ussery Shelter, adding a front door, wire reinforcement and a bunch of latches and accessories to make it more functional and, I dare-say, attractive.  I’m going to wait on that post because there are a few more details I’d like to add that I’m hoping to acquire within the next few days (after a much needed trip south to civilization).

We also relocated our compost pile from the side of the chicken coop to the back field, where the winter’s droppings can compost down to something we can use in the garden this fall.  I was astounded by just how much decomposition had taken place in the chicken coop over the winter!  As soon as we finished cleaning out the coop, we left the floors to dry overnight because this afternoon, I’ll be doing a full whitewash of all surfaces.

Interested in whitewash?  It’s a process farmers have used for years to coat the inside of structures where animals are kept or, more often, milked.  It has mild antibacterial and I’ve noticed that it brightens up our otherwise dark chicken coop, particularly in the winter.

To prepare the coop for whitewashing, we cleared everything out of it, scraped and swept the floors, nest boxes and perches.

Preparing the Space

To make whitewash, you mix the following in a bucket:


12 c. Hydrated Lime
1 lb. of Table Salt (I used un-iodized)
1 or 2 Gallons of Warm Water (roughly – just mix until it forms a thick paint-like consistency)

I always work with a mask and heavy gloves when I’m dealing with hydrated lime, as it is caustic in its powdered form.  When mixing, work with a long piece of scrap wood to avoid any splatter.


Using a brush, apply a thick coat of whitewash, then let dry.  One thing I didn’t realize when we did this last year was just how long it can take to set.  And old farming book suggests as many as two or three days to harden, so please give yourself plenty of time before you have to return your birds to their home!  Note that it will spread with a greyish tint, but once it dries it turns a brilliant white.

Wet Whitewash

Dry & Truly White Whitewash

Happy whitewashing!


15 thoughts on “Chicken Chores & Whitewash

    • My grandfather was a dairy inspector for YEARS and insists that it’s the only way to go with livestock. :o) Glad there’s another whitewash enthusiast out there.

    • Beth — We wait to whitewash until they can be moved into their summer tractor (we have a plethora of chicken housing, given that we are hoping to raise two separate flocks this year (meat & eggs).

  1. I’ve heard of whitewashing, but never knew why, or what! I have been debating what to do with our goat/chicken barn. I hate the mess can it get into. We clean it out thoroughly, but it doesn’t stay clean for long 🙂 Will whitewashing help with the cleaning? Since chicken poo tends to cake on the wood and needs scraping off I would think that the whitewash would be scraped away with it? Also, would whitewashing our goat milking stand be a good idea? Goats don’t exactly mind where they do their duty, and so the milking stand needs sanitizing as well on a regular basis. With the amount of work we already have to do, would adding this be beneficial?

    Thanks for the tutorial,

    • Kerri,

      I like whitewash because it’s simple and fairly natural. I find that it works best on walls and nesting boxes (places that don’t get too poo-coated. Some would probably get scraped away, but it would be no worse than paint and at least you don’t have to worry about the toxins in paint.

      I’m not sure I would put it on your milking stand, as water over time will slowly wash it away. For example, I whitewashed our coop floor last year and it was basically gone by the time I removed all of the shavings this spring.

      Maybe David (another commenter) might have some advice, too?

  2. Thanks so much for letting us know about the longevity of whitewash on wet surfaces since I was wondering that myself! We have considered doing it in our coop and possibly goat barn instead of just repainting. Does this rub off on anything, like hairy goat bodies or farm overalls? 🙂 And would any critters lick or bite it? And where do we get the lime? Sorry for all the questions – I just really want to make this happen! Very timely post now that the weather is getting better. Thanks again!

    • At our local hardware store. It comes in a big bag that we just store in the garage – we’ve used the same bag now for three years.

      • All the local hardware stores I’ve been to have no idea what I’m talking about when I ask for the lime used for whitewashing. They only have gardening lime which many sites say NOT to use for whitewashing. Even Amazon only adds to my confusion about which lime to buy. Could you please give a brand name and maybe a link? Thanks so much. I can’t wait to whitewash the inside of my garden shed.

      • We use hydrated lime – the brand was Lee’s Double Strength. We’re still using the same bag we bought for this post, but our ACE Hardware has gone out of business. So – basically, you’re looking for hydrated lime. I have it on good authority that the Quikrete Hydrated Lime works well and is available at most commercial hardware stores.

  3. Do you know if whitewashing would help a basement that smells damp? I am thinking that if it has antibacterial properties it would help with any mold that would try to form.

    • I would be careful with a basement – moisture tends to wash it away over time… And if you brush against it while damp, it does come away on one’s clothing.

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