Many people that would otherwise raise chickens are put off by the idea of a smelly, messy chicken coop. Here are tips from Shelby DeVore on how to keep the coop clean and sanitary.
Keeping a chicken coop clean and odor free is more manageable than you might think. With a little bit of planning and minor daily tasks, your coop will be odor free and clean.
Water is Good for Chickens, But Messy
Chickens can be messy if you let them. Messy chicken coops quickly become smelly and unsanitary. One of the biggest causes of odor in the coop is water. Waterers that sit on the ground are good for chicks that cannot reach a hanging waterer. Once chicks are old enough to drink from a hanging waterer, the waterer should be hung off of the ground. When water gets onto the bedding in a coop, it creates the ideal environment for bacteria that create ammonia. These bacteria break down chicken poop and release ammonia, creating strong odors that can become dangerous for your chickens and you.
If hanging the waterers is not an option, you can put the waterer in an old cat litter box. This will keep most of the shavings away from the water. Any shavings that get into the cat litter box can easily be scooped out before they become wet. Always remove wet shavings completely from the coop. Don’t put wet shavings into the floor of the coop with the other bedding since that will just create more bacteria.
Although ammonia is one of the most common odors found in a coop, it’s not the only bad smell. If you smell an earthy, musty smell, you’ve probably got mold growing in the coop somewhere.
All chicken feed has a small amount of mold spores in it. The mold doesn’t grow in the feed because mold needs moisture to grow. When the feed becomes wet and stays wet though, the mold spores can quickly start growing. Always remove molded or wet feed from feeders. Keep the feeders dry and well away from waterers. Hanging feeders and wall mounted feeders can easily be located well away from waterers without taking up too much floor space. When hanging feeders, make sure that they are completely covered and in a dry location. Don’t hang feeders in areas where they could get rained on or where a leaky roof could drip into them.
There are a few ways that you can treat the bedding in a coop for odor prevention. For many years, farmers have used agricultural lime to ‘sweeten’ the bedding area and reduce odor. You can still use this today. This helps to mask any odors in the coop. You can also use a product like Chick Fresh. Chick Fresh is a mix of enzymes that break odor molecules down and chemicals that prevent bacteria from growing. It’s safe (and actually beneficial) to use in bedding that will later become compost. The enzymes help to break all of the organic matter down faster, so it cuts down the amount of time that it would need to stay in the composter.
The deep litter method is another way to help control the potential odors associated with chicken coops. Bedding is added to the top of the old bedding as it gets dirty. The bedding is turned over occasionally and starts to break down, similar to how it would in a composter. It’s safe for your chickens to be around it and it shouldn’t have an odor. If it has an odor then your system isn’t working properly. Keeping the bedding dry is crucial to the deep litter method working without odor.
If you would like more information on managing a chicken coop that is clean, odor free and doesn’t have harmful bacteria, check out my ebook Keeping Chickens without Odor, Mess or Bacteria!
By clicking the button below, you will be taken to the sales page for the book where you can view additional information about it.
“Shelby DeVore is an agricultural enthusiast that enjoys writing about gardening, raising livestock and simple living. You can read her most recent posts on Farminence.com or follow Farminence on Pinterest and Twitter.”