Strong amonia smell in hen house???


11 Years
Apr 21, 2008
I have been doing the deep litter method and each week put down Sweet PDZ and DE with the pine shavings. My DH is running electrical out there so we could have a electric vent instead of the current roof vents we have. The last time I totally cleaned out the hen house and wiped everything down (this was about 4 weeks ago) I thought it would take care of the problem. I hosed everything off dried it really well and put new shavings and PDZ and DE down. In about a week the smell returned.

What am I doing wrong??????????


The Teapot Underground
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Mar 1, 2007
Hanson, MA & Lebanon, Maine
I rake out the poo every day. Literally. I don't take out all of the litter, but I try to take off the top layer and stir the rest in. That ammonia smell is coming off of the white part of the poo, I think it's basically the urine.

Also, you need more ventilation. Now I'm beginning to realize why there's no need to insulate the coop - you aren't going to be closing the windows much! They need air exchange, not drafts on them, but that air has to move. Hopefully the electric vent will work out for you, I do wonder about the dust, though, clogging up the works....


11 Years
Jul 2, 2008
West TN
I just had this problem and discovered that one of my plastic waterers had the slightest leak in it. It was wet in a radius of about 3 feet around the waterer. The straw appeared dry on top but when I turned it over It was soaked and smelled horrible!
So check for wet places near waterers.

Also, do you have an actual floor (like of wood) or is your deep litter on dirt?



12 Years
May 8, 2007
Smelling ammonia is a sign that you need to add more litter. It means that you have too much chicken poop in comparison to the amount of litter. I've been known to scatter clean litter in the coop every few days or weekly. It depends on the square footage per chicken, how much time they're spending in the coop, etc. You don't need to add huge amounts, just lightly cover it, concentrating on the areas that need it most. Maybe you have more of a problem under the roosts or around the feeder and waterer.

Every coop is different and it just takes a little time to discover how to maintain each one. I keep a big feed scoop in a bale of shavings in the corner. It's very easy to just sprinkle several scoops where it's needed. After a bit, you'll figure out how often and how much litter you're adding, to fix an ammonia smell. Then you'll be able to add the right amount of litter at the right times, to prevent your coop from having an ammonia smell.

Hangin Wit My Peeps
11 Years
Apr 20, 2008
Birnamwood, Wisconsin
I have an 8X8 coop and I have 18 hens in there and have never smelled ammonia ever. I take my shovel every other week (every week if it's hot) and just scoop out under the roost and add more shavings (about 1/4 of the bag of a 3 cubic foot bag) for that first week after that, there is just pine shavings smells
and than it starts getting "hen" smelling but not ammonia smells. In the morning is the worst when the coop is all closed up while they are all pooing! :eek: Good luck finding the problem... my coop isn't well ventilated (which we have to work on) but have never ran into a prob with that issue yet. We do have a pop door with screen rather than closing it all up so maybe that helps keep the air flowing a little


11 Years
Apr 21, 2008
I have an 8X10 coop with 19 hens. 9 of them stay inside all the time. They never go into the run. (I think the other 10 may be responsible for this problem.) We are expanding the run within the next few weeks in hopes of encouraging the 9 to go play. Our current run is 10X16 and we plan to add another 10X18.

I have just gone out and completely cleaned the hen house (again). I have switched to straw in the nest boxes (I cut this up into two inch length so they don't kick as much out) I will put a layer of PDZ and DE on the floor before the shavings and then put more on top. I have also threatened my cochin to stop using the one nest box as her personal bathroom. On second thought perhaps I should encourage all of them to use the ONE nest box. It would be easier to clean out.

The strange thing about this smell is during our 100+ days this summer we NEVER had the smell. The temps drop down to 30 and we suddenly have the smell. Go figure!

I also noticed a wet spot near the side of the flooring (commercial Linoleum). When I investigated further I could see where storm water has come in from a joint between the shed and the hen house (look at my hen house website to see what I mean). I will have DH fix this problem tonight.

Thanks for all you help.



11 Years
Mar 21, 2008
Centre Rawdon, Nova Scotia, Canada
Do you have an earth floor? Wondering if water is soaking down there and wetting the droppings even more...or dripping through existing flooring. I'd be inclined to clean using a dry method so that your litter and stall treatments can work...


11 Years
Jun 26, 2008
Columbiaville, MI
there's the problem. the water will keep releasing the ammonia smell in the shavings and poop.

it's amazing how water can make a stink way worse.

fixing that should make your issue much better. Blessings for a healthy flock!

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