Amonia smell - deep litter method in Iowa

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by stephhassler, Feb 14, 2009.

  1. stephhassler

    stephhassler Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 30, 2009
    Eastern Iowa
    I am using the deep litter method with a mix of wood shaving/chips and a little straw. It was working well until we had a recent warm up. The coop now smells of amonia in the morning - I free range during the day and it airs out during the day, but has smell again by morning. I raked the litter during the recent warm up - was that a no no? I can't rake anymore because it has gotten cold again and snowed also. The coop floor is concrete and the very bottom layer freezes when it is cold - like it is now. I do have more wood chips that I can add, but they have been outside all winter and are wet from the snow. I worry about adding wet stuff to the coop. I do have some dry straw that I could add as well, but I don't like to use too much straw. Any advice? Oh, by the way, I have 8 white leghorns and 2 banties. Thanks.
  2. Jolyn

    Jolyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2008
    Northern California
    This recently happened to me too and unfortunetly the only way to get the smell out was to clean out the entire coop and put all new bedding in. I'm realizing here where it rains alot that the deep litter method doesn't work as well in the winter!!

    I would not add wet bedding.....can you go get new bedding to add?
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I realize it is now sort of a cliche for me to say this [​IMG] but can you just open up more ventilation at night. That would help a lot. Cold is not so much a problem as damp-and-ammonia. You just don't want an breeze *on* the chickens, you know?

    Adding a droppings board that you scrape off (and remove the poo from coop) first thing every morning will help remove about 50% of the ammonia input into the coop, so that might do some good if the problem is 'new' poo more than the stuff already in the bedding.

    I agree that adding damp woodchips would not be so great. What about just getting a five dollar bag of shavings from the feedstore, it will be nice and dry and you can mix that in and it may give you enough margin of error.

    Good luck,

  4. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    You may be able to save things if you get Hydrated Lime. Make SURE it's HYDRATED lime, NOT quick lime or anything else... rake or loosen the top layer of whats there a bit, then scatter the hydrated lime over the floor, I use about 10 lbs over a 8x10 foot area, but if you have a wet smelly situation now, you can add a bit more.

    I think it's supposed to be about 10 to 15 pounds per 100 square feet of floor space, about once a month or so... but you can do this about every other week for a bit... OK, THEN, rake it in a bit more right away... and add some dry bedding on top of that, and if you can increase any air vents, even though it's cold.. that's best. Cold is better than amonia for your hens. The amonia can build up over night and cause resperatory problems if you don't keep it vented.

    If it wasn't already wet or damp, you wouldn't necessarily have to add more bedding, but since it is, I suggest that.

    [edit] yes, go buy a bale or so of some dry stuff, at least for now. yeah, I'd hate to do it too if I had a pile of wood shavings there, but at least for now it's really best. mix in some straw too so you can cut down on that, but yeah... after a couple weeks of doing this you should be good and it'll save a LOT of trouble.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2009
  5. dirtfishing1

    dirtfishing1 Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 5, 2007
    Blue Ridge Mtns VA
    If it is freezing on the bottom that tells me that it is wet. You should remove the littler asap to prevent disease and start over and keep adding fresh layers of shavings as needed to keep it dry. Any wet should be removed as discovered.

  6. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ahh, found my source... I'd just posted it in another thread then lost it, *doh*!!! Have a look at this, it's my bible for deep litter info!! Make sure it's all reallllly DEEP.
  7. meezermom

    meezermom Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 23, 2009
    Roy WA
    I totally agree with Pat - buy a bag of shavings at the feed store to add to your bedding. Depending on the size of your coop, & how deep your bedding is now, you may even want 2 bags....

    My coop is about 8" deep in shavings, and I shovel out the area under the roosts on a regular basis. [​IMG]
  8. stephhassler

    stephhassler Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 30, 2009
    Eastern Iowa
    Thank you so much for all your replies. From reading them I think I may have figured out at least part of the problem - or problems. First, I don't have a roof vent, so I leave a window open just a little bit. I think I should open it a little more or open another window to add more ventilation. Second, there is also a huge pile of poo under the perch - my son likes to call it the great wall of poop. The suggestion of putting a board under there is a good idea - then i can clean out the great wall of poop on a regular basis. I don't want to clean out the entire coop because I don't have enough dry stuff to put back in and I don't want the girls on bare floor. My coop is about 12 x 8, so that would take a lot of bags from the feed store to get back to the depth I have now. I'll get rid of the wall and add some dry bedding plus more ventilation. I think we are past the below zero weather for the year, so more ventilation should be fine. Thanks again for all your responses!
  9. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    Tractor Supply has a product called PDZ, it is a stall dryer, ammonia inhibiting compound. It will help on a short term basis. It will not hurt your hens and it is good for the garden too.

    Breathing ammonia at night can cause pneumonia in your birds.

    Good luck.
  10. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Another product that works is called Stable Boy, designed for the wet situation generated by a horse stall. I use it with food-grade DE. My floor is concrete with thick planks from a former horse stall on top. Keeps bone dry, I thik because the moisture never condenses on the concrete. We also use 2 indoor platforms in addition to the roost. On the coldest nights the hens like one of the platforms, depositing manure behind them when they take a step back, then repositioning at the front edge. Each day I use a paint scraper and a catch bucket, thus getting over 80% of all the manure daily.

    You may have to buy some dry bales of shavings and use some Stall Dri or Stable Boy to sort this out- I agree that putting frozen or damp stuff in at spring thaw would create huge problems- such as mold and respiratory distress, in addition to the ammonia irritation. Your son is right about disposing of the roost manure regularly- check here for lots of dropping boards and pit ideas-

    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009

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