How do I keep my run from smelling??

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by GoDawgs, Aug 12, 2011.

  1. GoDawgs

    GoDawgs In the Brooder

    Apr 23, 2011
    Atlanta burbs
    I think it's been about four months now since we got our first hens. I set up a chicken tractor, but it's really too big and heavy to move, so it sits in a permanent spot in the yard. It had grass in the run part, but of course that died pretty quickly. Now it's just dirt.

    For the past two months, the run has been a smelly mess. Right now, when the wind blows you can get a whiff of it from the back door of the house, and it's just disgusting. The worst is when is when it rains, because the mud and poop mix together, and then the Atlanta sun makes it hot, and it just reeks. It's not really possible to just scoop up the poop from the run, as it would be a lot of work to regularly reach every corner of the run, plus it's not real easy to spot chicken poo on dirt.

    What can I do to keep a clean chicken run? Is there something that I can cover the ground with? What kind of maintenance will it require? I miss having a pretty little chicken coop that had no smell.

  2. itom37

    itom37 In the Brooder

    May 10, 2011
    How many birds do you have per square foot in this tractor turned run?

    I have 5 birds in about 60 sq feet with a mix of sand and dirt. No smell, the poop gets sorta absorbed into the dirt or sand, and washes away when it rains. If you have a lot of birds in one small area, the poop can't really be absorbed and it's too much to wash away.
  3. Schwartzfarmnc

    Schwartzfarmnc Songster

    May 28, 2010
    West Jefferson
    Remove the chickens! [​IMG]

    I'm just kidding with you! After our girls destroyed all the grass, we put in sand and it's been awesome, you rake it every day and the poop just disappears, and one thing we do every friday night is hose down the sand after they go to bed, and rake it up really good, no poo and no smell and takes only about 10 minutes to complete.
    Linda V likes this.
  4. Nicole01

    Nicole01 Crowing

    Mar 28, 2011
    I was raking the run 1-2 times a week, but now that the grass is gone and it's all sand I scoop the poop out daily or a few times a day. I have a litter box scooper that works like a charm. I clean the coop 3-5 times a day also. It only takes about 5 minutes to clean the coop and run.

    The sand is nice. We use pine chips in the coop and sand in the run.
  5. spotstealer

    spotstealer Songster

    Mar 11, 2011
    Poynette, WI
    I also use sand. I got 1.5 tons of construction sand for 10 boucks. It gave me 4-5" base in a 11X13 run. Plus, being construction sand, the girls have plenty of grit to peck. It works great. Many gravel pits won't deliver that small of an amount, but a 1/2 pick up will generally handle it. I had to move mine about twenty miles and didn't have any problems.
  6. jeanne25

    jeanne25 In the Brooder

    Apr 23, 2011
    St. Louis, MO
    I had the same problem in my little temporary run, and the people here on BYC saved me. My chickens ate all of the vegetation in the run and I was left with dirt. When it rained, the smell was awful for several days until things dried out. Then the smell was very noticeable but not totally disgusting!!
    First you need to cover the run with a tarp or something to keep most of the rain out.
    Then sprinkle "garden grade lime" in the run. I got a small bag at Home Depot and I'm not sure if it is what I was supposed to get, but it worked! I used about half of the bag; about 1-2 cups.
    Then I added pine shavings, sprinkled DE, and then a little food pellets so the girls would scratch around and work in the shavings. Within 2 hours the smell was all but gone.
    We since have built a permanent run and have about a 4"-5" sand base and we love it. So do the girls! It is so easy. I rake mine every few days and sprinkle with DE regularly.
    Good luck!
    (You could probably search for my posts and read more about the lime.)
  7. mandelyn

    mandelyn Crowing

    Aug 30, 2009
    Mt Repose, OH
    My Coop
    We had the same issue. I've had chickens a long time, but they were always free range and stinky runs were never an issue. Now with urban chickens, we had to coop them up and learn about stinky wet runs.

    First thing we did was cover the run with a tarp to see if a roof really would make a difference. It does.

    Then we took a hand tiller and chopped it all up, since they had it pretty well packed down. We removed the top couple of inches. Then we filled it with sand.

    I rake the debris and scoop it out. Too much buried poo in there will stink just as bad when it gets wet. I have a kitty litter scoop for surface poo that I grab before I rake it.

    We also set out reusable fly traps... I didn't think we had a bad fly problem until I started to see those traps fill up. Good lord.

    So now... flies and stink are taken care of!
  8. 10 point

    10 point country boy

    Feb 19, 2011
    LaFayette, NY
    sand is a good fix for a stinky run
    Linda V likes this.
  9. Kathleen1115

    Kathleen1115 In the Brooder

    Jan 21, 2011
    Our run is covered with a roof (the clear plastic corrugated sheets) and we use cypress mulch on the ground. We give it a good raking 1-2 times per week but the girls dig a lot so it turns things over pretty well. We add a bag or two of mulch once a month as it breaks down. No smell ever, even after rain. I'm in Atlanta too and was worried about the heat making a big stink, but it's been fine. Their house is another story - that's been harder, especially since we almost doubled the size of the flock this spring. But even though the flock is bigger that hasn't been a problem with the run getting smelly.
  10. farmerinKC

    farmerinKC Songster

    May 5, 2011
    Kansas City, Missouri
    We first started with a coop style tractor that was hard to move and we were going to run out of grass. When it rained it was a smelly mess. So we did the following...

    Made it stationary and put sand in the run.
    Covered the run. (it would be nice if you could make an overhang)-I wish we would have done that.
    I scoop the run with a kitty litter scoop a couple times a day-and before we let them out in the morning.
    I sprinkle food grade DE a couple times a week-daily I sprinkle Sweet PDZ in the run. (I like it because it isn't so fine and doesn't get into the air so much).

    All of these things helped so much-really no smell now. [​IMG]

    I did buy some lime-but I didn't really know how I was supposed to use it when the chickens would be using the area immediately-so at some point when I learn more about it-I will use it occasionally, I think.

    I hope everyones suggestions help.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: