So your looking into getting hens for the first time however unsure as you think they’ll make your garden smell, you’ve come to the right place, in this article we’re going to discuss why chickens create bad smells and how to prevent it from occurring.
The short answer to this question is, hens are clean birds, if they’re taken care of properly you don’t need to worry about them making your garden smell bad.
Why does keeping chickens sometimes smell
The fact of the matter is a chicken coop will defiantly smell horrible if left for weeks at a time without a clean, however chickens don’t actually smell bad at all. They’re are fairly hygienic birds, we know this because they take mud baths frequently and don’t mind spending time in the rain cleaning up, not to mention you’ll often see hens cleaning their feathers.
The only reason why you may notice your chickens creating a nasty smell is when their living environment is not clean. This can be anything from the inside of the run, or coop which we recommend cleaning on a weekly basis, depending on how many hens you have will determine the level of mess they make. In all honesty, if you want to get chickens be prepared for some weekly cleaning if you want to maintain them properly.
When a coop or run has an over accumulation of dropping, water, mud and wood chippings it can result in a pretty nasty smell. Your run and coop will also have a huge impact on the level of smell created, the drainage in the floor along with the angle of the ground are all factors that can affect how quickly dirt accumulates.
Our coop and run were originally built on ground which contained lots of clay, we only discovered this when the wood chippings in the run weren’t doing a great job of draining the water. This unfortunately led to the run becoming really messy and almost impossible to maintain. This issue actually led us to completely change the location of the coop, which shows how serious it eventually got.
More than likely your hens may create a nasty smell is if, their environment has been left for a considerable amount of time without a clean. Making sure dirt doesn’t accumulate in the run/coop is key if you want your coop to remain hygienic, not to mention a dirty is coop is bad for your hens as there eating food which has been contaminated with their own droppings. The increase in dirt also attracts rodents which is a whole other problem you won’t want to deal with.
Another obvious factor which causes your coop to smell is if you’ve got too many hens crammed into a small coop, its crucial to give the chickens the proper amount of space if you want to get the most out of them. If the coop/run is not big enough for the birds, it won’t only be damaging to the hens but also increase the number of times you may have to clean.
How to prevent my chicken coop form smelling bad
The most obvious way to minimize your chicken coop/run from smelling is by giving it a regular clean, we reckon once a week however this may differ depending on the number of hens your have. The bad smell which may be present in your chicken coop comes from an accumulation of its contents, when this is removed and replaced your coop will smell as fresh as the day you bought/built it. Keeping this up will improve your experience of having hens significantly. Here is a quick step by step guide of how to clean your coop quickly and effectively:
Step 1: Start off by removing all your hens from the coop, we usually let them out into the garden whilst going through the cleaning process. This will make your life a lot easier and help you get the job done quickly.
Step 2: Remove the contents of the coop, this will be anything from nesting materials to chicken dropping. We like to use a corse brush to sweep the waste into a bin bag. This is probably the most time consuming step, try to scarpe of all of the droppings for best results. Adding water at this point will only create more of a mess, this step is most effective when the contents of the coop are dry.
Step 3: Remove the nest boxes from the coop and rinse with water, if this isn’t possible then clean the nest boxes in a similar way to step 2. It’s inadvisable to use cleaning chemicals when going through this process as you could cause the hens some discomfort when they return to the coop.
Step 4: Once your satisfied the coop is clean, add a suitable amount of bedding and ensure everything is where it should be.
Step 5: Your coop is now clean, tempt your hens back into the coop with some treats.
However, we understand that this may not be the only reason as to why your coop smelling, the ground under your run/coop also has a big impact on how the contents of the coop will accumulate. Having learned the hard way we don’t want you to make the same mistake, its crucial to understand what materials are underneath the ground where your planning on having your run.
The drainage of water and dropping will significantly slow down if clay or rocks are excessively present in the ground, we would advise before purchasing or building your run take some time to dick 1-2 feed down into the ground, this will allow you gain a better understanding of what materials lay under your potential run.
Its probably a good idea to change the area if you find these materials in excess, in the long run, it will save you time and money. Getting this right will mean that you won’t have to clean your coop as often and it won’t emit a bad smell, having personally dealt with this problem we urge you to consider having your coop/run on a flat surface where the ground is not filled with materials which can cause drainage issues.
Having spoken to fellow chicken keepers, we found the issue of a bad smelling coop to be quite common, however this was not form a lack of cleaning but more so because of the ground which coop/run was constructed on.
So there you have it a quick insight into whether or not chicken smell and how to deal with the issue, if you found this article useful then feel free to check out some of our others @easyhens.com
David Cameron is a passionate chicken enthusiast. Growing up, he always wanted to be a veterinarian and loved animals. After graduating from veterinary school, David spent over 40 years as an equine veterinarian. He and his wife retired a few years ago and moved to North Carolina. Here, David’s love of chickens grew even more – he now has 7 chickens and 6 quail. If you have any questions about chickens, feel free to reach out.