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Strong ammonia smell in the outdoor pen area...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by FlewTheCoop, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. FlewTheCoop

    FlewTheCoop Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi! We have our small flock (four hens, one roo) in Mississippi. They have a medium-sized run area outside their pen. Lately there's been a lot of rain, and our soil is clay, so it's starting to really reek of ammonia.

    I've read on here that pelletized lime can help IN the coop, but the coop is fine. Will that work just as well outdoors? Is there something better we could use?

    I appreciate your responses! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2009
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Unless you have a really earthshattering sanitation problem, the cause of stink is generally things being too damp.

    See my "fixing a muddy run" page, link in .sig below for ways to deal with it, both short- and long-term.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  3. FlewTheCoop

    FlewTheCoop Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks. Our run is actually on a pretty reasonable slope downhill, with a large drainage ditch to the left. I think in our case, the clay soil is retaining water. It's not muddy. We still have grass in our run (although it's expiring). So it's more like a sponge than actual mud. I don't think there's much we can do to keep it any drier. Our chickens don't get to free range, so covering their run in gravel or sand seems counterproductive to their desire to scratch and forage for bugs and whatnot in their pen. Besides, it seems like the waste would just filter down into the soil regardless. No, if mud was the problem, your fix would seem appropriate, but in this case... I think it would be a lot of work for nothing.
     
  4. goldielocks

    goldielocks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Get some sand. I love our sand run. The rain washes away everything and its all fresh and new again. Of course i do have a pick rake that i use in there weekly. My husband uses the rotitller to in the fall and in the spring. The chickens can take their dust baths in it and it also provides the grit that they need. We have it about 8 inches deep.
     
  5. FlewTheCoop

    FlewTheCoop Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks. [​IMG] I'll pass the info along to my "partner in crime."
     
  6. Mojo Chick'n

    Mojo Chick'n Empress of Chickenville

    I second the sand idea, and yes, put some lime in the run - we get more rain than snow in winter and by spring I need more sand and lime in the run.

    the pelletized works fine for this - it should de-stink it overnight.

    but then you'll have to fix the wetness problem, so the sand comes in handy there.

    meri
     
  7. FlewTheCoop

    FlewTheCoop Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks again. [​IMG] It's just really hard with clay. Drainage is fine but the clay soaks up the water and holds it, staying damp for a long time. I think the sand and lime idea may work best at this point.
     
  8. Mojo Chick'n

    Mojo Chick'n Empress of Chickenville

    yep, we have clay soil down here in KY, too - by spring it is a slip and slide just to get to the barns and coops. add in chicken poo and it's just [​IMG]

    meri
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:I really think you should give it a second 'think'. First, there is a lot more to my suggestions than just putting down sand. Direct all roof water *far* away from the site; limit rain from sides/above as much as economically feasible; and trench around the area, both to lead surface water away and to dry out the area surrounded by the trenching. It really *does* help quite a lot.

    Second, putting down sand does not interfere with their ability to scratch and forage for bugs and whatnot -- they scratch around in sand *just fine* and the bugs and whatnot will visit the sand too [​IMG] Indeed, some grass and weeds will grow up through it too, unless you simply have more chickens than that area can support with vegetation.

    And finally, although some of the nutrients do of course percolate down through sand into the clay soil, MOSTLY what happens if you have a good dry sandy run is that the poo *dries out* (the main deposits stay on the surface til they disintegrate) and *just does not smell much*. Really truly, believe it or not. THink of the sand as being sort of a 'soap dish' that keeps the soap up off the edge of the sink, so that instead of sitting with dampness under the bar of soap it is well-drained beneath it and does not soften and dissolve [​IMG] It's not a theory thing -- it's what generally actually *happens*.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  10. tattooedchickenlady

    tattooedchickenlady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My run was a mud hole...big ole' mud hole. And lawd, did it stink....brings to mind the bog of eternal stench from the movie Labyrinth. I realize now we built it on a low spot in the yard, but unfortunately, the only high spot is where our trailer is, go figure! I put down sand, and it helped some, but in the course of scratching and general chicken merriment, we ended up with more holes and MUD. Yay.
    We put down more sand and even shavings as necessary, helped with the stink instantly. I even dug a trench to redirect the water and it helped in a day. I need to go re-dig them now actually....I like the idea of putting down pallets in the coop area since that is one of the main areas that the holes form in. I'll pass on to hubby to look for pallets and maybe that will help out. Oh, and gutters, I think we need gutters.
    I can tell when they are uncomfortable, my egg production slacks off. Really.....I guess they don't like standing in stinky mud any more than we do.
     

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