Chickens can be stinky, smelly creatures. There, I said it. I love my chickens, but they can smell bad if not properly cared for. If you have chickens, you might be wondering how to keep their coop clean and odor-free. Well, I have some good, cheap solutions for you to help in controlling odors in the chicken coop!
While chickens poop…a lot…their coop and run doesn’t have to be a stinky mess. You just need a few simple tools, and a little – teeny – bit of work!
I’ve had chickens for 3 years. So I’m not an expert, by any means. But I have found a few easy solutions for controlling their odor. Let’s talk about those today!
Use the Deep Litter method
Using the deep litter method in my chicken coop has been the smartest thing I’ve ever done with my chickens. It has gone such a long ways in controlling odors in the chicken coop! If you’re not familiar with the deep litter method, you should definitely learn more about it.
The deep litter method is simple, cheap, and produces a lot of wonderful compost for your garden. And it is one of the best ways of controlling odors in the chicken coop.
The deep litter method involves simply piling up a lot of bedding in the chicken coop. We’re talking 8-12 inches deep! I like using pine shavings the best. Every couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to turn it over, fluff it up, and add a little more bedding. You can even throw some scratch grains on top of the litter, and the chickens will turn it themselves.
If you use the deep litter method properly, you will only have to clean out the coop twice a year. Talk about low-maintenance! When you do clean out the deep litter, put it in a pile, wet it thoroughly, and turn it a few times a week. Within about a month, you’ll have beautiful compost for your garden.
Keep it dry
Excess moisture in the coop is what causes the most odor. If you keep their coop bedding and their run pretty dry, it will significantly help in controlling odors in the chicken coop.
Don’t keep waterers in your chicken coop. Putting them in the run is better. Waterers often leak, and can cause too much moisture to build up in the coop. And make sure the coop is free of leaks, so you don’t end up with a soggy mess.
Cover your run, if possible. I know this might be difficult if you have a very large run, but it can be done if you get creative. A slanted roof is best, as it will allow rain and snow to run off better. This is especially important if you’re using a tarp or plastic. If it’s not slanted, the snow and rain will accumulate and make it sag and leak.
If you can’t cover your run, consider putting sand down in the run. Sand will help rain run away and drain from the run, and is easier to clean. Another good option I’ve found is using wood bark mulch in the run. It breaks down much slower than other organic options, and won’t exacerbate the muddy mess.
I tried using leaves last year, and that made my run a stinky, muddy mess! I strongly suggest you stay away from using anything that breaks down easily with the rains.
Use a drying and deodorizing agent
There are a few drying agents that you can safely use in your chicken coop. Barn lime and Sweet PDZ are wonderful options. In fact, if your chickens do ingest either of these, it will give them some extra calcium.
Remember, the key to controlling odors in the chicken coop is to keep everything dry. So if you do get some excess moisture in the coop, try mixing in some barn lime or Sweet PDZ (AKA stall refresher). They helps remove wetness, and won’t harm your chickens. They also absorb and eliminate ammonia.
Wood ash and charcoal can be helpful in removing odors as well, as long as the area you’re using it isn’t wet. It’s also great for dust baths! If you heat your home with wood, consider sprinkling some ash and the small bits of charcoal into your chicken bedding. The chickens might eat some of the charcoal, but that’s totally fine. It can actually help them remove toxins from their systems.
Chick Fresh is another good option for deodorizing if you need additional help. You may also want to check into making your own Lactobacillus Serum. It’s full of probiotics, is easy to make, very cheap, and helps destroy odors wherever you use it.
Use herbs in and around the chicken coop
Herbs can be wonderful to use in and around the chicken coop. Grow some strong-smelling herbs like mint or lemon balm around the coop. And put some dried herbs in the chicken coop, especially in the nesting areas.
Herbs can gently scent the chicken coop, and many have other benefits for your chickens as well. Lavender and lemon balm can be soothing to stressed chickens. Many people use these in the nest boxes to help encourage their hens to lay.
Herbs can also have other benefits for the coop, too. Lavender and mint help repel mosquitoes and flies.
Even tossing rose petals in the coop will help leave a pleasant odor.
Keep in mind, you most likely won’t be able to grow anything in the chicken run. But planting them along the outside will keep those pleasant aromas close by.
Don’t house too many chickens in one area
The biggest culprit of a stinky coop is having too many chickens in too small an area. Make sure your chicken coop has 2 feet of space for each chicken, and your run has at least 8 feet of space for each. More room is always better!
If there are too many chickens in one area, it can lead to unsanitary conditions in the coop and run. Which, of course, makes it smell bad. It will also contribute to more chicken diseases, and compound any lice and mite issues.
It’s truly best if your chickens are in a big enough area that the grass can keep up with them. However, this is similar to free-ranging, and isn’t right for every flock. If you have that big of an area, you will probably not be able to have it all secured from predators. You can, however, still have the coop predator-proof, which will keep them safe at night.
Consider a moveable coop
Another good way of controlling odors in the chicken coop is to move your chickens’ area frequently. This is done with the use of chicken tractors. Chicken tractors are usually on wheels, and can be easily moved from one are to another.
By moving the chickens’ area frequently, it will help the soil better take care of the bacteria that causes chicken coop odor. If their area always has grass in it, and doesn’t have an overload of poop, it won’t smell. Grass and soil are excellent at controlling odors, and absorbing the goodness of the manure.
Having a moveable coop also has the benefit of improving your soil wherever the chickens have been.
How do you deal with a stinky coop?
Now it’s your turn! How do you deal with a stinky coop? Do you have any other tips in controlling odors in the chicken coop? Please share in the comments. I love to hear from my readers!
And if you’d like ALL of our best advice in keeping healthy, happy chickens, you’ve got to check out our e-book, Raising Chickens For a Natural, Self-Sufficient Lifestyle. This is book 1 in our new Feathered Friends Basics Series. It’s jam-packed with almost 70 pages of info, all at a super-low price of just $3.99!
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