Why do my chickens stink?


In the Brooder
8 Years
May 6, 2011
St. Augustine, FL
I've done a search on here for the same topic and couldn't find any real answer, so here is my question.

I'm new to chickens (1 1/2 weeks) and they are 3 months old (4 hens). When I pick them up to hold them they are really stinky. I keep them in a 4x4x4 coop and an 8x8x6' tall enclosed pen and I clean their coop out every few days and their run every few days. They stink really bad when I hold them. Is there something I need to be doing, do they have some sort of stink sickness

I did have them on duramycin-10 for 1 week because they all had bubbly/watery eyes and one had a cough, they are now all except one cleared up. They are now eating Starter/Grower feed (DuMor) and all 4 are Ameraucanas.

Your chickens should smell like laundry that has been sitting in the sun to dry, when you bury your nose in their feathers.

I had a runt silkie once that smelled like poo. I don't know why. No one else smelled that way.

There is a respiratory disease called coryza that has a distinctive odor, but I have no experience with it.

Is the smell a "poo" smell or something different?
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I wish I had the answer for you, Daolin, but I've not had this particular problem. I have five hens in a henhouse and run about the same size as yours. We do a little clean-up each day. I would suggest you post this topic on emergencies/diseases. I think the odor may have something to do with the disease and medication the chickens are getting, rather than any environmental conditions. Good luck!
Sounds like a chicken bath is in order.

Had to do that with my 6 bigger chicks last week as they got all muddy and icky when they were outside and their feathers were muddy and sticky. I just wrapped them in a towel and brought them to my Utility room with the mud sink and gave them a quick warm bath wrapped them back up in the towel then put them back in under the brooder light for the rest of the night and let them preen themselves dry and clean. My husband thought I was nuts... I told him my girls will not be dirty or stinky!!
Your chickens should smell like laundry that has been sitting in the sun to dry, when you bury your nose in their feathers.

*goes out to bury her nose in their feathers to sniff her chickens ! *

My dogs toes smell like Fritos corn chips
I suppose chickens can smell like line dried sunshiny laundry​
A mite infestation can make chickens smell pretty bad. Healthy chickens smell quite neutral and nice. I love the smell of my chickens! Until I found a couple with mites.... After successful treatment, the smelled nice again.
Its not a poo smell, just a bad smell all over them. So then I have 2 questions.

1) If I give them an actual bath in soap and water, is that ok?
2) If it is Coryza how do I find out for sure? DO I take one down to the vet?

I read that article and it doesn't make me happy because one of our girls does breath with her mouth open at times and did have a nasal discharge

I did examine them for mites, nothing I could notice.

Thank you for your help
Yes, you can give them a regular bath (I use shampoo), just be careful not to let their heads go under the water as they often fall asleep. Here is a link to a chicken getting a bath, if it will give you help:

Sorry IDK the answer to your other question.

Also- be aware that chickens should really be blown dry if it is chilly outside. Like where I live, I'd blow them dry. It's coooold!
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I would definitely check out the possible coryza with a vet. After you've figured that out if your chickens still smell bad, change their feed. I started my flock off on a locally available soy based feed, and they developed chickeny body odor. But when I switched them to a better quality feed (soy free) their B.O. disappeared.

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