I've noticed recently that there is an ammonia smell in my coop. I use the deep litter method, everyday I scrap off the poop on the perches, spread a little DE. Every couple of weeks, I turn the litter. But it still smells. Any suggestions?
It is due to some combination of "too much poo", "too little ventilation", and/or "too much dampness".
Ventilation, hygeine, and prevention of dampness (prevent waterer spills/leaks, fix roof leaks, make sure there is no water rising from ground) will solve the problem.
In the short term, one of the stable powders (Stall Dri, Stable Boy, Sweet PDZ) can also help control odor -- BUT this should never be used as a substitute for fixing the root problem(s) of poo, ventilation and/or damp.
I haven't noticed any leaks. The coop was disinfected and fresh little put down in Oct w/a bit more added in January. Ventilation? I guess there really isn't any. We never had a problem in the past couple of years with this though...this was the first winter though where we've had this big of a flock.
Hey, that's a nice sized coop for 19 chickens! That's almost 24 square feet per chicken!!! I'm curious, how big is your run/yard?
Pat has pretty well covered the issues with you. The "cycle" of the coop is out of kilter, there is too much or too little of part of the equation. Here's some questions:
When you go inside the coop does it "feel" damp?
Can you see moisture anywhere...walls, ceiling?
Cement, dirt, or wood floor?
Does the litter seem damp/clumpy or is it pretty dry?
Is there plenty of ventilation?
You said that you scrape the poop off of the roosts...do you then carry it outside to your compost pile or where ever? If you're simply scraping it off onto the floor then it's really not helping anything...it is much better if it goes out of the coop.
Absolutely get some air going through there...up higher than roost level if you can. Open some windows at the end of the coop away from the roosts...when it warms up more open more windows. If you have some windows at the roost end of the coop but higher up than the roosts open some of them. Just be sure the chickens are in a NOT draft. Stagnant, damp air is bad.
ETA: to correctly state that THE CHICKENS SHOULD NOT BE IN A DRAFT.
Absolutely get some air going through there...up higher than roost level if you can. Open some windows at the end of the coop away from the roosts...when it warms up more open more windows. If you have some windows at the roost end of the coop but higher up than the roosts open some of them. Just be sure the chickens are in a draft. Stagnant, damp air is bad.
ETA: With all the winter weather that we've had this year I can understand why you're smelling the ammonia...chickens give off incredible amounts of moisture through their breathing and poop. Without adequate ventilation the moisture has no where to go and creates a moist, unhealthy environment for the birds. Opening those windows/vents will do the smell wonders but most importantly it will help the chickens health greatly!
The run is about the same size but we are planning on doubling it this spring. I am getting 10 more and I want to make sure they all have plenty of room.
I will talk to my DH about ventilation. We have three coop windows up high that we don't use. One, becuase they are painted shut and two, because of coons. The coop is right next to a big tree and we are afraid of coons climbing up the tree onto the roof and getting in the windows. And the other windows near the ground I've kept closed because it's been so cold. But maybe cracking them open would help.
The floor is cement.
The litter isn't clumpy.
The only moisture I've seen has been frost when it was real cold.