coop stinks - not sure where to start fixing

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Kotiya, Jan 18, 2010.

  1. Kotiya

    Kotiya Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 11, 2009
    South-West Ohio
    This is our first winter, learning as we go. We currently have 21 pullets, 3 roos in a 10x12 coop with 10x24 run. We were free-ranging, but have been keeping them in coop to train them to use nesting boxes. They are all just starting to lay eggs (girls at least [​IMG] ). Not sure how long they will be kept in coop since neighbor's puppies learned chickens taste good (we are trying to work on that issue separately).

    We have put in 2 roof ventilation thingees, and 4 ventilation rectangles in front and back walls. It all seemed to be working through the coldest weather recently, but now its hard for me to breathe in there. Yesterday I stirred up the litter, added what I had about 1/2 bag of Stall Dry.This morning, DH hung a box fan to get air moving more. We let chickens out yesterday, but nearly lost two to the puppies.

    What do I start working on first? Do we need to change out the litter? Do we need more ventilation? Are there just too many birds in the coop?

    The birds are staying in the coop because the run is muddy. I can't think of anything else I can add. I just need some suggestions!

    thanks in advance!
  2. Turkenlover

    Turkenlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 14, 2010
    I too have a muddy run, and my solution was simple, but effective. I just broke a bale of straw open and spread it out over the mud. Boy did my chickens have a hayday (pun intended) kicking around in the straw. They packed it down eventually, and no more mud!! I hope that helps a little. Can you post pics of your coop?
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    The first and easiest part of a solution would be to change out the litter, either all of it or most of it (depending on whether there are relatively-clean portions). That will take care of most or all of the problem for a while... although it may only be a SHORT while, unless the other aspects are addressed too, before you have to do another total cleanout, and another, and another.

    (edited because I missed, first time through, that you had a run, sorry! [​IMG] : To whatever extent the stench is coming from the run, not the indoor coop, check out my Mud Page (link in .sig below) for a buncha things you can do, both short- and long-term, to dry and de-stink your run. At the moment your best bet is to remove as much as possible of any organic material that's in it, and replace with fresh stuff that will of course have to be raked out and replaced when *it* starts to get nasty)

    And yes, you do seem to need more ventilation. I'm not sure what *size* your vents are, but if you are having Reeking Coop problems [​IMG] then definitely you don't have enough. At least, not enough for having the chickens indoors all the time. Go cut some more, if possible [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  4. vstoltzfus

    vstoltzfus Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 10, 2009
    Lancaster County, PA
    If you are having problems breathing in the coop, then so are your chickens. I would let them out into the run. Is there a reason you don't want them in the mud?
  5. Hen_House_Rocks!

    Hen_House_Rocks! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2009
    Throw a couple bales of straw out on the muddy run. They will have fun scratching around and a little mud won't hurt them! When my coop gets stinky I sprinkle DE around and mix it into the bedding with a rake. Then add a fresh layer of straw on top. This seems to do the trick for me.
  6. ChickBond 007

    ChickBond 007 Licensed to Cull

    Feb 26, 2009
    Madison County, Iowa
    Smell usually begins with wet bedding. DE or stall dry applied regularly will help keep bedding dry. Once it stays wet for a period, it harbors bacteria and worse yet ammonia which will inhibit breathing. I would change the bedding.
  7. backyardpeeps

    backyardpeeps Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 11, 2008
    Big Lake MN
    My chickens are finally venturing outside in their fenced in run since the weather has warmed up this week. (too much snow for them, but I shoveled some out and the temps had been way below zero.) I tried to clean the inside of the coop, but got one load of poop in the wheel barrow and said "forget it". I can't get the door open wide enough to use the pitchfork to put their stuff in the wheelbarrow because of all the ice and snow still in front of the main door! Will have to try again later - wanted so much to clean the coop this weekend, but will probably have to wait for warmer weather. It didn't smell until I loosened the poop and straw on the concrete floor. We too have a really muddy run in the spring and summer. The only complaint I have is that they bring in the mud when they come in to their coop and the straw gets pretty yucky. We will put more dirt/sand in the outside run this spring.
  8. Kotiya

    Kotiya Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 11, 2009
    South-West Ohio
    Sorry, I wasn't clear. My birds have access to run. I keep putting seeds and other goodies to encourage them out, but I don't see them out much.

    I will try and replace all the litter right away. My DH kept suggesting it, but I put him off by telling him I was using the deep litter method. I'm learning!
  9. E.G.Glayer

    E.G.Glayer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 29, 2009
    Blanchester OH
    Quote:1. Change the litter if takes your breath away it your chickens dont like it either. It is probably the ammonia smell from the urine and if it smells that bad then you need to start fresh to make this work. But use this stinky litter outside to help in the muddy area, it wont stink so bad when you move it out there.

    2. Your ventilation is probably adequate, I have 18 hens and 1 roo in an 8X8 coop with about the same size run. They do not free range as they are confined to the coop and run area always. If you can let them have access to the run and coop area during the day it will help. My girls only stay confined indoors if it gets below 20 degrees but that is their choice because I open the little chicken door every day no matter what. My coop has one attic style vent and I leave the small entry (chicken) door open during the day. My run is completely enclosed which keeps them reasonably safe from predators.

    3. I usually add about 5 cu.ft. of wood chips about once every 3-4 weeks ands I only completely clean it out in the spring and fall. By the time it needs cleaned out there should be about 10-12 inches inside. When I clean out the coop that litter goes out into the run area which keeps them out of the mud then I begin again with fresh litter inside. When I get too much outside I shovel that chicken poop/woodchip mixture into my old feed bags that I have been saving for fertilizer and sell it for $3 per bag, and it does sell especially in the spring.

    The key to using the built up litter method is that is what you want to do is to keep it dry but just moist enough so that it may barely stick to your hand if you try to ball it up in your fist. I stir mine at least once a week no matter how good of a job my girls seem to do. if it seems too moist I stir in a bag of wood chips. If it maintains the correct level of dryness the waste actually ferments / dries out and helps keep bugs away, I know, hard to believe but it works. If done correctly you will barely even know you have chickens in there at least by the smell. I have been using this method for years after I read about it in Storey's Gulde to Raising Chickens. (A great book to own if your just starting out).

    I hope this helps, but if you do this I guarantee it works. [​IMG]
  10. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Clarification needed...are the chickens being kept in the coop because the run is muddy, or are they refusing to go out, but the pop door is left open for them???? I would definitely keep it open during the day. As others have suggested, break open a bale of hay and throw it around for them to walk on and peck around in.
    Dropping boards help keep LOTS of poop out of the bedding. If you don't use them already, I would definitely consider adding them. Along those same lines, are you cleaning daily? The daily task of scraping dropping boards and picking up soiled bedding usually takes only a few minutes, and is well worth it to keep the coop from getting smelly and damp. Enticing them out into the run will help a lot here too. Throw some scratch out there in the hay you put down to lure them out. Make sure they have roosts out there too...
    Those would be some of my suggestions. Good luck!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by