Best Guesses on Radius of Chicken Smell and Flies?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by chickylou, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. chickylou

    chickylou Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 29, 2009

    Coming to some final decisions about location. Can you give me your best guesses about the how far and wide and/or pervasive chicken smell and flies might be?

    So, let's say per 10 chickens is the smell something you want 10 feet away from your house and possibly open windows OR 50 feet away?

    Also what about flies? Do you find bad fly problems in your chicken areas? Do you use fly traps?

    Any contributions would be greatly appreciated.

    Just to give you a bit of our thinking...we are building in an old pool 20x20. The deck is right outside the back of our home.

    Our coop pieces are all cut to shape and I've primed and painted them. I've jigsawed out the windows and door and this month, as soon as the snow stops (!), we'll be cleaning out the pool mess and setting up our stuff, but these are last minute considerations.

    Thanks so much! I've learned so much from you all. [​IMG]
  2. Kelly G

    Kelly G It's like herding cats!

    Really...I've had 5 chickens for the last 6 months & there is little detectable odor until my face is inside the coop. I turn the litter over about once per week...and strip the bedding every 3 months. I've since learned that it may not be necessary to do it this frequently - but I'm always doing horse stalls every day, so it's not been a big deal.

    Now, flies. They have me concerned. I had a problem with flies last year due to the horses - not the chickens. This summer I will have 31 chickens & that could change everything! Last year, I treated with chemicals: fly spray & DE (natural product) . This year, I think I'm going to try DE plus fly predators ( ) I understand from my horse network of friends that these are very effective.

    It will be interesting to see other peoples responses.
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Unfortunately there is no one number.

    It depends TOTALLY on how you keep your chickens, and (this is key!) how humid/damp your run in particular, and your climate in general, are.

    If the run is bone-dry and the air is not usually especially humid, you won't have much in the way of flies.

    If you live in a humid climate and furthermore the run is situated/built/maintained such that the footing is often damp, you will have a significant fly and odor issue. Since flies and odor do not stop suddenly, they decline gradually as you get away from the source, I don't know how to put a number even to that particular situation. For this type of situation I would not want such a coop 10 feet from the house, 50 would be better but whether it's enough depends on how particular you are.

    Flypaper won't do all that much good; the 'stinky' fly traps do catch a good number of flies BUT THEY STENCH quite a lot on their own and you wouldn't want one of those traps near your house *either* [​IMG]

    Dryness is your biggest friend. So, keep rain out of the run as much as possible, make sure it is at or above grade and does not catch runoff from elsewhere, and use sand or gravel rather than an organic mulch in there if you have to go to something other than bare earth. Fly predators can be helpful if you are the only fly-breeding source in the neighborhood but not if there are other places that flies will arrive from, and they are not cheap and a bit finicky to use.

    Sorry not to be able to be more specific on distances,

  4. Kelly G

    Kelly G It's like herding cats!

    Quote:LORD have Mercy! This is all very bad news for me!!! I live in HUMIDITY central!

    My coop stays very dry inside - and is well ventilated...but I have not had 30 chickens in it for a summer! I'll keep my fingers crossed!
  5. azelgin

    azelgin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2008
    S.E. AZ
    Quote:We actually had fewer flies with chickens last year, than the year before. Last summer was the first year for the chickens. We have been using fly predators for the past five years and they work quit well, so, they were not the reason for the overall decrease in flies last year. The chickens free range and do an excellent job of spreading the manure piles out to dry and rummaging through them looking for bugs and goodies. I think this really helped to cut the problem down. It has also cut down on our manure gathering schedule. There just isn't as much mule poop piling up anymore. Mules like to use the same spot over and over. If, I'm not out with the loader scooping it up now and then, it gets pretty deep. The chickens really spread it out over a wide area and it kind of goes away. Not sure where it's going. We'll still keep up with the fly predators this summer, as I really don't want to let a fly get problem started. Our fly problem doesn't get going around here until the rains start in July, or August, so timing on the predator release is critical, to get them on the job before the first real rains hit. Before we used the predators, they were really bad. I guess the only way we'll know for sure if the reduction was due to the chickens, or, some other factor, will be determined by this comming summer.[​IMG]
  6. mtnhomechick

    mtnhomechick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 27, 2008
    Mountain Home, AR
    I live in a humid area and last summer had 50 chickens within 20 ft. of my back door.

    I didn't have a fly problem. I kept my coop dry and almost always had a fan on .......not so much to keep it dry but to keep the girls cooler.

    I have droppings boards that catch about 75% of the droppings. I clean them everyday. It's a 5 minute job once you get used to it.

    I use straw on the coop floor and run and wood shavings in the nesting boxes. I clean the straw and replace it about once a month. 2 bales works well for me.

    I like my girls close because I like to observe them and in the winter or inclement weather, it's nice to have it close.

    I used to free range for 3-4 hours a day but now I have an additional fenced in area that's open on top that they range in during the daylight hours.

    Good Luck with it all.

  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Just to clarify -- the key thing IME is how dry the ground in the run is. Humidity matters chiefly because of how it affects that; but lots of other things affect how dry the run is, too.

    Chickens scratching horse (etc) poo apart will DEFINITELY reduce how many flies you are getting from the horse manure -- however it is a bit different if the only manure around is from the chickens themselves and it's confined within a run. (Free range, somewhat less of a problem).

    Anyhow, I see no reason a person couldn't keep chickens near their house without fly and smell problems BUT IT DEPENDS on your taking good care with your design, construction and management. If you look back in the byc archives to threads from last summer you will see that odor and flies certainly *are* problems sometimes. So, since you have the advantage of not having set up your chicken empire yet, you can design it with dry footing foremost in mind, and then you should be pretty much good [​IMG]

  8. Kelly G

    Kelly G It's like herding cats!

    That's good news...the run has GREAT drainage and never has standing water in it.....even after all the huge amounts of rain we got last summer & into fall! Our acreage slopes down towards a local river that forms the Eastern boundry for our property.

    The soil is nearly completely sand - good for drainage (but bad for my horses!)

    I have my fingers crossed. Flies are such a nuisance!
  9. Chauntecleer's Keeper

    Chauntecleer's Keeper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2009
    West Little Rock, AR
    I have goats and chickens in a fenced area 50' X 50', and the flies can get bad if I do not stay on top of it. I have had great success with DE. You can get it at the Farm Store. My wife and I put out a 13 pound bag and it did the trick. We do it annually. I spread it with a coffee can and she raked it in. I was amazed how well it worked. It builds up in the soil and does not hurt the environment. It is like a field of razor blades to flies.
  10. fitz

    fitz Out Of The Brooder

    May 10, 2009
    sorry but i'm a bit slow in catching the abbreviations... what is DE? I would like to get some as I am getting a bad fly problem and my ducks and chickens are eating them....ewww....

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