My coop stinks!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by EasterEggDrew, Jan 17, 2017.

  1. EasterEggDrew

    EasterEggDrew Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chicks have been in their coop since late September, and I've been proud of the way it never really smelled, until maybe the last ten days. I'm wondering if my young chicks, which are probably just on the eve of laying their first eggs, are going thru some sort of hormone shift that has them suddenly stinking to high heaven.

    Coop is well sized to the flock, and filled with 4" to 6" pine shavings. I did a complete change-out of the old pine shavings last weekend, thinking that would resolve it, but just three days later it's starting to smell again. I've always kept an inch of PDZ in the poop tray, where they do about 99% of their pooping, and sifted it with a kitty litter scoop every Saturday. Not ideal, but I'm not home during daylight hours during the week, and can't really kick them off the roost at night to clean the poop tray. There has never been an odor issue in the past.

    Some friends who have owned chickens in the past just tell me that's the way it is with chickens, and I shouldn't expect it not to smell, but I was so happy with the way it hadn't smelled bad over the last four months. Should I just live with it? I can't figure out how to describe the magnitude of smell in words, but I can say it's not pleasant!
     
  2. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How big is your coop, and how many chickens do you have? Do you have pictures you can post? Do you keep food or water inside the coop? Is the bedding wet? Has it been rainy or humid recently? You don't mention where you live in your profile, this can help us know your weather etc.

    It could be as simple as the chicks are getting bigger, and big birds poop more! How old are they? What do you feed them?

    With some more info, I am sure BYC can help you get to the bottom of this!
     
  3. Tillicans

    Tillicans Out Of The Brooder

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    Easter EggDrew I'm wondering what kind of smell, ammonia, or feral as in rat or possum? Best check that out first. If you hadn't had any smells before, what are you doing differently? Maybe a different feed? Let us know
     
  4. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am having the same problem this year. My smell is ammonia.

    My coop is 10 x 12 with 8 foot gable roof.

    I too have a dropping board and the poop gets cleaned off once a week.

    I have two vents one at each end of the coop. I have four windows about a foot by 2 feet (the open part). I have resorted to leaving them open almost all the time. During the day I turn the fan that hangs in one window on low to circulate more air. Once the fan is on for a short period of time the smell is gone.

    I've been doing this for 40 plus years and never had this issue.

    The only thing I can think of is it has been extremely humid this winter and lots of liquid precip. very little sun and most days there is little wind. I think all factors as mentioned are just making it hard for the moisture in the coop to evaporate and dissipate.
     
  5. Tillicans

    Tillicans Out Of The Brooder

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    scooter147, I live in Sydney Australia where our summer is hot wet and humid, I've read if you put D.E mixed with shavings in the coop it helps to rid of the smell as it helps to dry up poop and keeps the Smell down. I have just started the DL method and am happy with the result. Some people don't like using DE due to it killing good microbes but I'd rather have no smell, seeing I live in Suburbia.
    How often do you clean it out? Maybe it's time to do a complete clean out and start again. Also it could be the material you are using, just wondering. I was recommended to use some river sand on our existing dirt floor as it does get muddy when it rains, I'm on a slope and the coop catches this. Then I put wood chips small, and then sugar mulch on top. I don't use hay which I believe does go mouldy.
    Trial and error I guess, even if it worked before try something different. I also put some DE in their pellets, the poop then doesn't smell because they ingest the DE. Good luck, it's important to keep the run dry and keep it aerated.
     
  6. Tanis6189

    Tanis6189 Just Hatched

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    I have used sand in the past to mask the smell. Constant cleaning is honestly the best way i have found!
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't know what your weather has been like this winter, but ours here in SW Ohio has been very wet and warmer than usual. That combination seems to make odor more noticeable. We have a poopboard filled with PDZ as well and pine shavings on the floor. I find it needs to be scooped daily in this type of weather. In the summer when it's dry, every other day or so works. We have 6 chickens in a 8' x 9' coop.
     
  8. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ditto here on the wet winter. The outside humidity is frequently 90% or higher. Its currently 32 out and 99% humidity. We've had equal days of snow vs rain.
     
  9. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If a coop smells of ammonia, there is only one possible source and that is the manure that the birds are leaving. Their droppings are both urine and feces combined, so the ammonia you are smelling is the Nitrogen in the urine converting to volatile ammonia.

    So this being winter, the vast majority of us in North America still have only 10 hours or less of daylight, so 14 hours or so of darkness when the birds are on the roost. So 14 hours of droppings on an open droppings board. If that is not cleaned daily........or if it was soiled during really cold weather and several days of frozen droppings accumulated and suddenly thawed out one day.........that would lead to smells of ammonia. Even if a coop like that did have 6 inches of litter on the floor, if the droppings never reach the floor to combine with the litter, it might as well be none. The litter has to combine with and cover the droppings to shut that down. This can also be made worse in the winter if there is snow on the ground and birds won't go outside. So when that is the case, you now have a 24 hour droppings load to deal with. And that may all hit on the first warm day when a whole lot of stuff thaws out. The stuff on the droppings board and the stuff that had been frozen in the litter.

    Is it possible this is what has taken place?

    Second issue is ventilation. Even if you had a lot of ammonia being generated, if you can smell it, it means it is lingering in the air due to a low rate of air turnover. In a well ventilated house, it will be gone almost as fast as it arrives.

    My Woods coop has 9 birds in it and even with the same weather you folks are describing, it has no odor at all. None. About 8 inches of deep litter under the roosts, no droppings board and the abundance of ventilation the Woods coops are known for. I rarely touch the litter myself. When they wouldn't come out, and things started building under the roost, I'd toss a cup or so of oats and BOSS on the litter and they turned the whole pile for me.

    We just went through 5 days of rain and ice storms and for 3 of those days, the birds never came outside. Still......no odor.

    My egg count the past few days from those 9 pullets hatched in late April was 8, 7, 2, 8, 7, 5, 7 and 6 and one bird has not started laying yet. Again, part of that was during 5 days of rain, ice and cold temps. And no smells.

    One thing I do different that some with my litter is about once every 2 months or so, I do pull out the droppings laden litter directly beneath the roosts they sleep on. I get maybe a single 6 cu ft wheelbarrow load and move that to a garden compost pile. I last did that about a month ago. The rest of the litter is most of what I started with last year in May, plus what I've added now and then since. Way down deep it is getting pretty black and rich and will be cleaned out and moved to a garden compost area come spring.
     
    2 people like this.
  10. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    All great suggestions.

    I am going to start cleaning the poop board daily, in the dark I suppose. [​IMG]. I do have a light in the coop.

    It has to be the humid winter we are having, I don't ever remember having this problem in before and I've been raising birds for 40 years.
     

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