Deep litter and smell? Help!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by clairabean, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. clairabean

    clairabean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2010
    Kootenays of BC!
    I have been deep litter -about 8 inches- of pine shavings. I turn the shavings once a week or so. Lately it has been very ammonia smelling in there. There is quite a bit of ventilation, so I just don't get it.

    I live in BC, Canada and we are in the middle of a snowstorm, so my girls stay in a lot.

    Am I doing something wrong? What can I do?[​IMG]
  2. Cargo

    Cargo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 28, 2010
    Farmington, NM
    More ventilation.
    Now you see why we all harp about ventilation
  3. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    Mix in a couple of bags of pellitized lime and it will neutralize the ammonia

    Do NOT use "hydrated" lime
  4. cassie

    cassie Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 19, 2009
    If it is dry and well ventilated it shouldn't smell. I scatter a few handfuls of scratch on the litter every day and the chickens do a fine job of keeping the litter nicely stirred up.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    How much is "quite a bit" of ventilation? (Everyone's got a different idea of what is a 'normal' amount, and sometimes what seems like quite a bit, isn't really).

    OTOH if you really HAVE vast quantities of ventilation, is it possible that you've gotten rain or snow come in to dampen the litter? Which will cause more ammonia to come off.

    You might try *not* stirring the litter, but instead just adding fresh stuff on top. Another thing to try (instead or in addition) is to remove the under-the-roost deposits of poo, which are usually the worst offenders yet very easy to remove in one fell swoop.

    If none of that helps, you can try something to control ammonia (lime, Stable Boy, Stall-Dry, whatever), but it is possible you simply may need to experiment with different ways of managing the littter pack to find what works in your particular situation. There is no "the" deep litter method, there is a whole constellation of different ways of doing things in that general manner, so rather than trying to follow a particular cookbook procedure it is usually necessary to experiment and adapt until you find something that suits your circumstances.

    Good luck, have fun,

  6. clairabean

    clairabean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2010
    Kootenays of BC!
    [​IMG] Thanks.

    The coop is an insulated shed which is connected to another (open air) shed. The door between the two is open wire. No snow or rain can get near the girls' area. I had put glass over the windows for winter. Do I need a cross ventilation? I am worried about drafts.
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Nope, you're right, you don't want cross-ventilation in cold weather.

    If you don't have a lot of chickens (maybe a half dozen or a bit more, depending on your setup) the wire door may be adequate, and a solution may have to be sought elsewhere. OTOH if you have a buncha chickens in there, that may be a significant part of your problem.

    Just another thought -- if your coop is on a dirt floor, is it possible that rising moisture from soil dampness (tis the season) could be the problem? Disregard if you're on a wood or slab floor.

  8. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    Hmm. There are a lot of different things that can contribute to increased ammonia. If there are no other issues in an established deep litter coop that's been going for awhile, it's usually a sign that it's time to top dress with some clean shavings.

    Is one wire door the only opening for ventilation in the coop for winter? Is it possible that you have water leaking from a waterer inside? Do you have poop boards? If so, how often do you scrape them off? How many square feet do you have per chicken in the coop? How long since you started this batch of litter? How often and how much are you top dressing with clean shavings? How does the litter look to you?

    It's possible that you have come to the time when you need to add some clean shavings to the coop and you are noticing it more because you have shut down most of the ventilation. Extra ventilation can compensate for litter issues and make them less noticeable. It's really hard to say, without a little more information.

    I think a lot of people need time to learn how to manage the litter in their particular coop. I sure did. After awhile, you learn how often, how much and where in the coop you need to top dress with clean shavings.
  9. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    I have a dirt floor and like Pat said, that's what causes my coop to pick up moisture in the winter snow/rainy seasons. I'll toss in some fresh bedding, DE and scratch and let the chickens take care of mixing it all up. Usually takes away the smell within a day.
  10. clairabean

    clairabean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2010
    Kootenays of BC!
    Wood floor.

    I added a few inches of shavings yesterday and the smell is much better today- almost not there at all.

    I will get this yet! [​IMG]

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