Why Does My Chicken Coop Smell So Bad?

Why Does My Chicken Coop Smell So Bad

Which measures do you take when the chicken coop starts stinking? Let’s face it. Every coop will start producing a foul odor at some point. After some time, you will smell the bird’s poop.

Although you cannot get rid of the unpleasant smell completely, you can use several tricks to reduce it significantly. You cannot stop them from pooping, but it’s possible to control the foul odor.

There are several possible causes of the problem. However, the most common culprit is ammonia, which is a by-product of chicken droppings.

When in vapor form, ammonia produces a strong and foul smell. The gas is formed when bacteria break down the nitrogen in chicken poop.

This affects the beddings, litter, and air quality in a chicken house. Some environmental conditions can increase the concentration of ammonia in a coop.

The inspection of a coop for ammonia should be done regularly throughout the year. The heavy gas tends to concentrate more near the floor than in the air.

However, you can easily detect it early enough before it causes serious health issues for your birds. One way of checking the level of ammonia is bending until the head is about one foot from the droppings. Breathe normally for about a minute. If the eyes, throat, or nose burn, the level can harm your chicken.

Possible Reasons Why a Chicken Coop Can Smell So Bad Than Others

In some cases, you will notice that the bad odor is stronger in some chicken houses than in others. Here are some of the possible causes:

1. Inadequate Ventilation

One of the most effective ways of controlling ammonia is ensuring there is proper ventilation to get rid of ammonia-filled air in a coop and replace it with fresh air. If the windows are not enough, install slow-moving ceiling fans. 

Alternatively, install them on the walls. The devices help to ensure proper air circulation. Fans will also keep away the flies and lower the temperature in a chicken house. Usually, chicken farmers prefer keeping their birds indoors during cold weather.

However, this is not an ideal situation for them. When you keep the flock indoors, the droppings will accumulate faster. Also, their warmth facilitates the multiplication of ammonia-producing bacteria. Their activities stir up the litter and increase the amount of ammonia that is released into the air.

2. Poor Coop Maintenance

Another common reason a chicken house may smell more than others is a failure to get rid of poop that accumulates beneath the perches. Also, make sure you replace any wet litter around drinkers and doorways.

3. Water and Moisture

It’s normal for water to spill when filling water bowls. The moisture can mix with chicken poop and produce an unpleasant ammonia smell. One way of avoiding this problem is by cleaning up any water spills as soon as they happen.

Which type of watering system are you using in your chicken coop? Leakages or incorrectly set water dispensers will cause more moisture. If you opt for trough systems, ensure the lip’s edge is at the level of the chicken’s back. By doing so, you will reduce the chances of splashing and staining.

You can also avoid water leaks by installing nipple watering systems. Cleaner water and dryer bedding are some of the benefits of this system. Your birds should be able to access the nipple without jumping.

The roof should also be watertight. A coop should have enough roof to prevent the entry of rainwater through the windows. If the rainwater reaches the bedding, you will notice an unpleasant odor. Proper roof installation will keep the litter dry even when it’s raining.

4. Bugs Infestation

Some climatic conditions attract bugs. Flies are some of the most common types of bugs in many chicken coops. For example, wet litter during humid months tends to attract flies. One of the effective ways of dealing with this problem is using fly repellants or predator wasps.

5. The Type of Bedding

The choice of bedding and how well you maintain it will affect the smell of your chicken house. Avoid using hay or straw as bedding. Both options usually trap moisture and facilitate the growth of bacteria. 

Some experts recommend using a deep bedding pack of pine shavings, which are readily available in local grain stores. The bedding should be about 12 to 16 inches deep. This helps to absorb moisture into the pack and allows it to escape later. Note that cedar shavings can be toxic and harm your flock.

Check this too: Can Chickens Smell or Taste?

Some farmers prefer using straw or hay. The two options can work perfectly in nest boxes. However, they may attract and lead to the accumulation of moisture.

Depending on the prevailing conditions, they may hold too much moisture on the floor. The ease of maintenance is one of the top reasons for the popularity of the deep litter method. If you build a chicken coop in an urban or small area, consider cleaning down the litter regularly.