Poop maintenance question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by vsecretz, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. vsecretz

    vsecretz In the Brooder

    Oct 20, 2014
    Hi everyone - I'm very new to caring for backyard chickens. I inherited them from the previous owners of a house I just purchased. I have 5 hens and 5 silkies. I have been looking so many things up on the internet in search of good advice as I am really just learning how to care for them. So far, so good. The problem that I am running into is smelly poop which I cannot recall having just about a week ago. I've been caring for them for about 3 weeks now and so far, that's the only change I can tell.

    I noticed that very recently, some of the poop I am seeing is a soft, ball of poop. Not really solid but just like a circle of soft, perhaps runny poop. I can't tell if it is all of the chickens or a specific one or two as I work full time. I am starting to smell the poop and it smells horrid. I can also smell a hint of it as I approach the front gate of the coop. I know that this can't be good and am looking for some experienced advice on what could be going on. I think one or two or more of the chickens could be sick (although their behavior has not changed at all) but am not sure how sick and what and I am trying to figure out how to mask the smelly poop smell before it consumes the air in my backyard.

    Is there anything I can do as far as masking the poop smell which is outside of the coop, on the dirt that they walk out onto, when coming out for fresh air? I kind of raked any old, dried up poop that I could see which has helped improve the smell but it still lurks. Should I buy sand/gravel to lay down over the dirt outside of the coop and if so, does that actually help and how is that maintained?

    So many questions! Please help.
  2. mtngirl35

    mtngirl35 Songster

    Dec 10, 2013
    [​IMG] Welcome to BYC! I put down gravel for drainage and covered it with sand. I rake it once a week and toss out the poop. I add new sand every 3 months. I buy a half ton at a time for $12 so its pretty cheap. My chickens also use it for grit. I don't think it would be as cost effective if I didn't have a truck, though. I don't like hay or straw. It smells when it gets damp. I use pine shavings in the coop but I think they are too messy in the run.
  3. ProviderEx

    ProviderEx In the Brooder

    Aug 27, 2014
    For "runny" pop, put a dish with plain old yogurt out for them, sprinkle some feed on it and they will eat it and it will help them.
    They will walk all in it and make a nice mess, but will eat it all, mine do.

    As for the smell, just keep it as dry as you can. the dryer, the better.

    You can also dust the ground with lime powder

    Experts will help with this soon.
  4. vsecretz

    vsecretz In the Brooder

    Oct 20, 2014
    thanks for your response and advice MNTGIRL35! appreciate it. I was thinking the other day if gravel/sand would help but wasn't sure how manageable it would be to clean but from your response, it doesn't sound like a bad idea at all. I must give it a try. I rather them walk on that mixture than the dirt anyways. I also use the pine shavings for inside their coop which I do not think the previous owners used - they used straw and it just smelled bad. Once I used the pine shavings, it was a complete difference - for the better! :)

    ProviderEx - I had read recently that plain yogurt was a good treat to give chickens and how much they love it. I will be picking some up tomorrow. At first I feared that they might have worms or something somehow from a search online but I will try that out first and see how that works. If that doesn't help it, then I may just have to get that powder treatment I read about in case they are sick. It's tough when you can't tell if something may truly be wrong with them or not. As far as the smell, I do think its related to all of the rain that we've gotten over the past few days consistently. So what I did was put up some plastic on both sides of the fence of the coop, (leaving the entire front clear for plenty of fresh air) to help keep as much water out of their walking space as possible. The top is also covered to help prevent the downpour on top of them. So they should be good when it rains now and to also prep for when it snows later in the year.

    Very helpful guys - thanks so much!
  5. vehve

    vehve The Token Finn

    The rain, as you say, is the source of your problems. If you have the energy, you could put up some sort of roof over their run to keep it drier. And if you have even more energy, digging up the run and putting in some french drains and gravel under the dirt/sand to make it drain better would probably be worth the effort in the long run. We sometimes sprinkle a bit of stall freshener in the run if it starts to smell too. It binds moisture pretty well.
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Post some pics of your coop and run, and put your location in your profile, so folks can make more viable suggestions.
    Finding out what is wet and why it is wet is the key to reducing odors.
    Here's a good article on muddy runs that might help.

    I would also suggest that before you feed yogurt to 'cure' their loose poops,
    tell us exactly what you are feeding them and what the loose poops look like (posting pics can help there too).

    Here's couple of good links to keep handy for reference to learn the scoop on chicken poops:



    ETA: Oh and Ventilation is very important for health and odors!
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2014
    1 person likes this.

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