How to keep my run from smelling?

chickity-chick

Songster
May 1, 2020
228
202
143
Atlanta, GA
Hi everyone! So I have 4 chicks that are 4 weeks old in a run that is 3X7 during the day and then back inside with a heater at night. (They will have a 75sqrft run when bigger) but, we have a smell problem! The run is play sand with gravel about an inch or two bellow. Because they are still small chicks their poops are still tiny and fall through the kitty litter scooper I have tried to use. It is also a low enclosure so it is really hard to climb in and reach everywhere. I have sprinkled a light layer of DE on top of the sand but it hasn’t helped with the smell. I have read all kinds of things like just raking and never scooping out and watering the run once a week, etc... I have read many things even some people saying not to do the above mentioned - basically I do not know what I should do or what to try to help this. I want it to be a clean and sanitary place for my birds. Thank you so much for who ever can help me!
 

azygous

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
28,951
47,737
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Colorado Rockies
Trying to keep a run clean that you have to crawl or bend over in isn't going to work. Been there. Use this as a learning exercise. A run such as you have for your chicks won't work over the long haul. I hope your large run will allow you to stand upright in it. Otherwise, you will suffer torture trying to care for your chickens, the smell being the least of it.

Sand really is your best bet as far as keeping it scooped, and keeping the poop scooped absolutely will prevent odor. If you don't wish to expend the effort of picking up poop several times a day, a deep litter self composting bedding would be something to consider.

Sand, poop, and water will produce absolutely gut churning odor. To prevent this, you should consider covering your new run so wet weather will not make it wet and smelly.

I've been keeping chickens for twelve years and I've had my present run for seven years. It's pictured up in my avatar, and by going into my profile, you could see lots and lots of photos of it. I have about four inches of construction sand in the run and coops, and it is very easy to keep clean. No smell ever. No flies, either.

While your chicks still have tiny poop, try tearing narrow strips of duct tape and taping the scoop with them crosswise to make a smaller sifting surface. Be sure to tape both sides so the sand won't stick. I've also taken netting and glued it onto the scoop to create smaller sifting.
 

Lamontelle4

Chirping
Aug 11, 2019
67
90
54
Hi everyone! So I have 4 chicks that are 4 weeks old in a run that is 3X7 during the day and then back inside with a heater at night. (They will have a 75sqrft run when bigger) but, we have a smell problem! The run is play sand with gravel about an inch or two bellow. Because they are still small chicks their poops are still tiny and fall through the kitty litter scooper I have tried to use. It is also a low enclosure so it is really hard to climb in and reach everywhere. I have sprinkled a light layer of DE on top of the sand but it hasn’t helped with the smell. I have read all kinds of things like just raking and never scooping out and watering the run once a week, etc... I have read many things even some people saying not to do the above mentioned - basically I do not know what I should do or what to try to help this. I want it to be a clean and sanitary place for my birds. Thank you so much for who ever can help me!
If you still would rather have them on a sand run then an old strainer would work as a scoop for their waste. I personally hate sand. I can’t stand it. I used to have a sand run because I was like oh how cool would this be. I ended up shoveling all the sand out and filling the run with soil and planting wheat grass. best decision I ever made. Chickens love the grass and there is not bad smells. the grass is self fertilized by their waste, and I have two runs for them so when one run needs a break from chickens rampaging through it all day I just move them over to the other run. unfortunately with sand I was never able to get it to not smell terrible, and scooping it out just got tedious.
 

chickity-chick

Songster
May 1, 2020
228
202
143
Atlanta, GA
Trying to keep a run clean that you have to crawl or bend over in isn't going to work. Been there. Use this as a learning exercise. A run such as you have for your chicks won't work over the long haul. I hope your large run will allow you to stand upright in it. Otherwise, you will suffer torture trying to care for your chickens, the smell being the least of it.

Sand really is your best bet as far as keeping it scooped, and keeping the poop scooped absolutely will prevent odor. If you don't wish to expend the effort of picking up poop several times a day, a deep litter self composting bedding would be something to consider.

Sand, poop, and water will produce absolutely gut churning odor. To prevent this, you should consider covering your new run so wet weather will not make it wet and smelly.

I've been keeping chickens for twelve years and I've had my present run for seven years. It's pictured up in my avatar, and by going into my profile, you could see lots and lots of photos of it. I have about four inches of construction sand in the run and coops, and it is very easy to keep clean. No smell ever. No flies, either.

While your chicks still have tiny poop, try tearing narrow strips of duct tape and taping the scoop with them crosswise to make a smaller sifting surface. Be sure to tape both sides so the sand won't stick. I've also taken netting and glued it onto the scoop to create smaller sifting.
Thank you!! That is extremely helpful! I will try the tape! I tried to find hardware cloth to zip tie but it’s all sold out in stores near me so I’m waiting on amazon. Ugh. Anyways! Do you think that I should add construction sand on top of the already existing play sand and gravel mixture? I have read a lot of debate about the two types of sands and honestly do not know what is best because of the great debate.
 

azygous

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
28,951
47,737
1,232
Colorado Rockies
I've tried different grades of sand, including decomposed sandstone I shoveled from the side of the roadway, the latter not being very good because it was dusty and compacted.

I like masonry sand because it's fine like play sand but has small particles of grit in it. Right now I have coarse construction sand and it's working great. It can get wet occasionally and not compact, and being coars, it dries out pretty fast.

What I do to keep the run from accumulating poop particles over the years is not to replenish until the sand level draws down close to the native soil. I removed it all one time to get rid of the dusty compacted sandstone sand, and it was way too much labor to ever think about doing again.

Sand isn't for everyone, but it works great for me. My climate is arid and it works best under these conditions.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
105,170
159,526
1,867
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Sand isn't for everyone, but it works great for me. My climate is arid and it works best under these conditions.
Very important point!! :highfive:


Not sand fan got over that in the brooder where even window screen cannot catch all the poop particles. Eventually it reeked with the least amount of dampness.

Agrees you need run that you can easily get into.

Mine run is huge with semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are best IMO.
full


 

tribalacres

It’s a great day to be a farmer!
Apr 2, 2020
710
3,792
256
Central Florida
If you still would rather have them on a sand run then an old strainer would work as a scoop for their waste. I personally hate sand. I can’t stand it. I used to have a sand run because I was like oh how cool would this be. I ended up shoveling all the sand out and filling the run with soil and planting wheat grass. best decision I ever made. Chickens love the grass and there is not bad smells. the grass is self fertilized by their waste, and I have two runs for them so when one run needs a break from chickens rampaging through it all day I just move them over to the other run. unfortunately with sand I was never able to get it to not smell terrible, and scooping it out just got tedious.
That is an amazing idea. We are stealing that 😂
 

black_cat

♥♥Lover of Leghorns♥♥
May 21, 2020
19,141
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Connecticut
Thank you!! That is extremely helpful! I will try the tape! I tried to find hardware cloth to zip tie but it’s all sold out in stores near me so I’m waiting on amazon. Ugh. Anyways! Do you think that I should add construction sand on top of the already existing play sand and gravel mixture? I have read a lot of debate about the two types of sands and honestly do not know what is best because of the great debate.
I've read that because of the small particles in play sand, it can cause respiratory issues in your chickens.
 

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