Thinking of raising chickens


12 Years
May 17, 2007
Can anyone help me decide! My husband has heard that chickens are dirty filthy birds, that they make a mess and you spend everyday all day cleaning up after them. Is this true?
I would love to have fresh eggs, and wish I had a farm but I am lazy to a point so if my husband heard right, I just don't think I will be able to get any chickens!
Thanks for the help!
Well chickens are not sparkling germ free critters. All birds have no ability to control their poop. Basically they will poop anytime and anywhere. So in that much they are dirty stinky animals. But if your coop and run is big enough for the number of birds you have, then there should be no reason to clean it more than once a week. Even less often with more space. A well built coop makes the cleaning very simple. Also I have found that you don't need for anything to be sparkling and germ free.

So I spend an hour or two per week keeping things cleaned up, and nice for my birds. The return of the eggs and interactions I have with the birds more than make up for that. The only time the birds have been stinky is been when I wasn't able to keep up with to many birds in the run. Otherwise it has been easy for even an older partially disable woman to manage.

I know that it is totally worth keeping chickens. They are funny interesting, and charming pets.
A lot of us chicken owners are fastidious, clean freaks. There is absolutely no reason why chicken pens and coops have to be filthy and smelly. There are a few ways to promote clean, odor-free facilities, with a varying degree of work.

You can read up on the different materials you can use inside the coop and pen to help control poop and odors, but I can tell you what I do.

In the coop, I use wood shavings that act sort of like cat litter to absorb moisture and keep poop clumped so it can be removed fairly easily. I employ "poop planks", thin boards with linoleum glued to one side, to put under the roosting perches at night so most of the poop ends up on them. Every morning I pull the planks out and hose them off, and pluck out any big clumps of poop in the wood shavings. This keeps the coop as close to immaculate as chicken coops can get.

As for the pen, I use about four inches of sand over the local clay soil and at least once a day, usually more often, I scoop the poop with a cat box scoop. It only takes a few minutes, and the result is an odor-free pen with no fly problem in summer.

There's nothing more rank-smelling than when chicken poop gets wet, so I covered the run with corrugated fiberglass panels to keep out the rain and snow, and trenched around the perimeter of the pen so run-off can't get in and soak the ground.

I can't help but believe that, besides not having to endure a filthy, stinking chicken pen, they're a whole lot healthier and happier because they have a clean home. And when they happen to get poop encrusted feet or crust build-up on their fuzz butts, the offending chicken parts get washed. Yes, you can wash chickens. Some even enjoy it, and most adore being blow-dried.

So both you and your husband need to get rid of all of those preconceptions about chickens being filthy and smelly. If you really want to have chickens, and I strongly recommend it as they are some of the most affectionate and delightful creatures on this earth, you can have them without the smell and filth if you're willing to take the steps to achieve it.
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Bonjovi, Azygous explained very well how to keep chickens clean. The number of chickens makes a big difference.

For myself, I have found no more than five chickens are easy to keep clean. (ok, i stretched it to seven incase some died

I started with 30 of different kinds because I couldn't decide on which kind until I tried different ones. Thirty adolescents was crazy, so gave away half of them and it was more manageable, but still work with 15. What did I know till trying it.

I moved, and got just five of my favorite kind (Easter Eggers) and tossed in two Rhode Island Reds. This was much MUCH less work and brought more joy into the experience of having chickens. Reduced the poop factor MAJORLY to not so noticeable. Water and feeders were easy to keep clean. They were very quiet, no big squabbles or cliques. Also no rooster this time helped - don't need roo for eggs.

Also, if you just want eggs to eat, 7 hens was half a dozen eggs A DAY. That is three dozen a week. Three or four hens may be all you need. In case one goes broody.

Important to design their living quarters easy to clean. The covered run idea is the way to go.

Wish you the best. You can always sell or give them away if it doesn't work.
Well, they can be dirty, but it's not that bad. Your coop and your set up will have a lot to do with how much effort it takes to keep things clean. For example, I've got 30 chickens, but I have a pit beneath their roost that is a foot deep and covered in 1x2 wire. The poop falls into the pit, the chickens can't get in it. I clean it out twice a year and put it on the compost pile, then the garden once it's broken down. (Black gold!) The rest of the coop stays rather clean with deep pine shavings that I stir or change out periodically. They do most of their pooping on the roost at night anyway. If you've only got maybe 4 chickens for eggs for your own family, they're not going to generate all that much poop. It's not any worse than having to clean up after a dog or cat. Check out the coop section on here and look into your options for smart designs that will make cleaning out the coop a breeze. Chicken tractors are another good option in warmer weather too. Move it daily and the poo won't build up or kill your grass. Really they're only filthy if you let them have full run of your yard. Then they'll poop on everything. Keep them contained for their own safety and to contain the mess.

Of course, you are on BYC -- nobody here is gonna try to talk you out of getting chickens.
They make less poo than my big dogs and smell 200x better than goats!! My coop and run take hardly any work at all to maintain. But, chicks on the other hand require quite a bit of work to keep the brooder clean.

For me it's a no brainer. The enjoyment I recieve far out weighs the time and effort I put into them. (eggs are great too!!)


Good Luck no matter what your decision is!!

Well, I sure won't try to talk anyone out of getting chickens - they're the love of my life - but I've been thinking, maybe you don't need to get chickens if all you want them for is the eggs. You can always get farm-fresh eggs at the local co-op, feed store, or ask around about neighbors with chickens who will sell you eggs.

Chickens are a responsibility not to be taken frivolously. Like having any kind of pet, it involves commitment and a certain amount of work. If you're the sort who would rather not face that responsibility and accompanying care and feeding, and you really aren't going for much more than the eggs, there are much easier ways to get them.

For most of us here at BYC, eggs are a bonus. It's having the chickens that's the BFD.
Well, no. With right cleaning practices and enough space, chickens aren't gross dirty birds some people think they are! You should definetly do more research to persuade (haha) your husband about the chicken idea! They really are wonderful pets!
Chickens are no more dirty and smelly than any other animal you might have. Proper housekeeping of any animal leads to a clean and odor free environment. I find that it is no more "work" to take care of my chickens than it is to take care of my dog and cat. It only takes me a few minutes each day to to do the basic feed, water and quick poop patrol for my chickens. Once a week I may spend up to an hour doing things in their tractor for my satisfaction and their cleanliness. The eggs I get are worth the amount of effort I put in. The interaction I have with them is priceless.
One doesn't need a farm to raise chickens. I don't have a farm, and I am not only lazy, but have some medical problems that cause me to tire out really quickly and/or take lots of rests between tasks.

Healthy chickens smell nice. I often bury my nose in my chickens' feathers, when I'm holding one. Chicken poop is smelly, but isn't any creature's poop smelly? I mean, even ours! There are ways to mitigate the odor in a coop and run. Don't keep too many chickens in a small space, make sure they have fresh water and feed every day, spend a few minutes every couple of days or so cleaning up (in various different methods), and there's nothing dirty or filthy about them.

Letting chickens range freely, and if they get on your porch or walkways, they will poop and you will probably step in it. Keep them in a good sized run and you'll only step in their poop in the run.

My cats throw up and that's gross. They also do it in the most inconvenient places. Chickens rarely vomit. My dogs try to eat cat poop and chicken poop and will succeed any chance they can get away with it. You can't use dog and cat feces as fertilizer or in compost. They don't lay eggs for you, either. Cats MIGHT catch a few moths or spiders, but chickens are wonderful at reducing bug populations. Dogs and cats get fleas and ticks and internal parasites; there's treatment for both problems. As there are for chickens which happen to get internal and external parasites.

Dirty, filthy, make a mess and you spend everyday all day cleaning up after them? Hogwash. One shouldn't believe EVERYTHING you hear.
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