Chicken Coop Smell: Causes + How to Keep it Fresh

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, poultry requires well-ventilated housing with clean air. However, this is not readily achievable as chicken coops become smelly over time. But what causes this irritating smell?

Chicken poop contains nitrogen, which produces a stinking ammonia odor when mixed with moisture. To stop a chicken coop from smelling, clean their droppings every morning. Then keep the coop’s interior dry and well aerated at all times.

Ammonia is the leading cause of a smelly chicken coop. Since chicken manure is nitrogen-rich, it produces gaseous ammonia when it mixes with moisture and becomes wet.

Chicken coop smell
Chicken coop smell

How to get rid of bad smell in a chicken coop

Though preventing the coop smell is better than eliminating it, if the chicken coop is already smelly, you have no option but to find ways to get rid of it. You can use the following techniques to manage a smelling coop:

1. Lime for chicken coop smell

Pro Tip: Only use agricultural lime and not hydrated lime!

Pouring agricultural lime on the damp areas of your chicken coop will assist in eliminating the foul odor. Lime neutralizes the pH levels of the litter and also the smell.

Hydrated lime should never be used in a coop or near chickens because it can intoxicate them. Since it is always used as a disinfectant, it can also cause corrosion on chicken bedding. Therefore, it is toxic to chickens and poultry in general.

2. Replacing the bedding

If the bedding in the coop is already fouled and smelly, use a pitchfork to remove them from the chicken house and replace them with clean bedding. However, if you use the deep bedding pack, you can turn them so that the dry area comes on top while the wet side turns downside.

The pine shavings bedding absorbs moisture and promotes ammonia vaporization, thus bringing back the healthy smell. Replace the deep bedding once they turn grey all through.

3. Clean the whole chicken coop

Clean the coop regularly to eliminate the foul odor. You should mainly focus on:

  1. Removing the old bedding
  2. Cleaning the nesting boxes
  3. Sweep the floor to remove the chicken droppings
  4. Washing the floor with water, detergent, and bleach/vinegar to disinfect and improve the smell.

Before placing other beddings, ensure that the floor is completely dry.

4. Using natural air fresheners

If you have nice-smelling herbs around, you can hang some in the coop to cover up the smell. Some of the natural herbs you can use include:

  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm
  • Mint
  • Basil

You can place them in any location, such as the walls or doorways of your chicken coop, to eliminate and improve the smell. However, note that chickens hate scents from bitter herbs and spices, i.e., cinnamon plants and citrus. Therefore, do not use those in or around the coop.

5. Using sweet PDZ

Sweet PDZ is a natural mineral called zeolite. This mineral helps manage the foul chicken coop odor by absorbing the coop’s moisture content and ammonia smell. It absorbs ammonia before it becomes gaseous, thus eliminating the bad smell.

Numerous companies produce refreshers using zeolite. You can search for Sweet PDZ coop refreshers online and purchase one.

How to keep a chicken coop fresh

Before learning how to eliminate the coop smell, it is imperative to understand how to prevent it from becoming a challenge. Here are various ways to prevent your chicken coop from smelling:

1. Ensure that the coop is well-ventilated

A well-ventilated chicken housing promotes ammonia vaporization, controls moisture, and improves air circulation. You should place vents near the rooftop to keep strong winds out while creating an exit for ammonia.

 Alternatively, you can have sliding/adjustable vents to open to release the smell and close after that. Moreover, you can install a fan or add windows to promote ventilation.

Pro Tip: Ensure the windows are fitted with chicken wire to protect the chicken from predators.

2. Proper roofing

The coup’s roofing should be watertight with enough roofing material to prevent rainwater from entering the chicken house. Preventing rainwater from making the litter wet is a sure way to prevent the coop from being smelly.

3. Use the right bedding.

Bedding materials such as hay or straw trap moisture and become habitats for bacteria to grow. Therefore, you should avoid using them. You should consider using deep bedding (approximately 12-16″ deep) of pine shavings available in most agricultural stores.

4. Proper watering system

Poorly fitted watering systems can lead to leakages. If you use a trough watering system, set them at an appropriate height that prevents trough fouling or splashing. Alternatively, you can use the nipple waterers, significantly reducing spillage and preventing birds from polluting the water.

Air freshener for chicken coop smell

Chickens have a unique avian respiratory system that makes them sensitive to toxins in the air. Therefore, you should avoid using air fresheners in the chicken coop, whether plugins or spray form. Do not put scented candles or flavors like peppermint in the chicken house unit.

Rather than using air fresheners, consider using odor eliminator sprays designed explicitly for poultry housing units. These odor eliminator sprays are non-toxic to the chicken and absorb the ammonia smell, leaving the chicken coop smelling nice. More so, your neighbors won’t complain of lousy odor as they leave the area surrounding the cage with a pleasant smell.

Chicken coop smells like ammonia

Whenever you smell ammonia from the chicken coop, it’s time to take quick action. The ammonia smell is irritating and can cause health problems to poultry. Stong ammonia can make chickens breathe with open mouths due to respiratory issues like pneumonia. More so, it reduces the egg production of your chicken.

Since the ammonia smell comes from wet chicken manure, you should mainly ensure the waste and litter are dry. You can use the methods in this article to prevent the ammonia smell or get rid of it.

Causes of a smelly  coop

The moisture level is the primary determining factor in how smelly your coop will be. It may come from leakages on the coop’s wall or roof. The watering system in the coop can also build moisture that contributes to a foul odor.

In short, wet droppings contribute to higher ammonia levels that cause an irritating smell. The chickens’ bedding also contributes to the odor since some materials, like hay, can easily trap moisture. Poor ventilation will highly contribute to the chicken coop smell as lack of air circulation leads to gaseous ammonia in the coop’s environment.

Foul odor in the chicken will make the chicken uncomfortable, sick, or sometimes lead to death. Additionally, living in a smelly environment makes it uncomfortable for you and your loved ones.

The good news is that you can manage the smelling coop. Use the methods discussed in this post to ensure your chicken coop smells nice and promotes your chicken’s health. A smelly coop attracts maggots and other unwanted pests like flies, which is why you must act.

You’ve understood what’s causing a foul smell in your chicken coup. How do you now get rid of the smell? Worry less! Below is how to prevent your chicken coop from smelling.