Chickens are lovely to have but the odor which can develop over time is certainly not one that you (or your neighbors) are going to love. A smelly and dirty coop laden with pathogens and bacteria may also put your chickens at risk. Here are some simple tips to help you get the odor level under control.
- Clean regularly
You may not like to hear this but nothing beats good ol’ soap and elbow grease. Coops should be cleaned out every other week to ensure the health of your chickens. Start by removing all soiled bedding and droppings. Shovel them into a bin and you will now have yourself really good compost which you can then use as fertilizer.
Proceed to then hose down the entire coop using pressurized water and soap to get rid of stubborn stains. Scrubbing the coop using a water and vinegar solution will also work to disinfect the coop. You should avoid using bleach as they contain chemicals which could harm your birds. Dried up droppings may be harder to remove and will require a little scrubbing.
Once that’s done, completely air-dry your coop by opening up all the doors and windows. Finally, fill the coop with fresh bedding and watch your chickens rush in.
- Select the right bedding material
Choosing the right bedding also plays an important role in keeping your coop smelling fresh. Good bedding would not only help in absorbing moisture and providing insulation, it would also help in minimizing the nasty odors in a coop.
Wood shavings or wood chips are the best as they have superior absorbent qualities and smell naturally fresh. Straw is another common material used due to it being inexpensive. Straw does not however absorb moisture as well as wood shavings and may start to smell bad if not replaced regularly.
The main culprit of smell is usually wet or damp bedding. This happens when a waterer leaks or rain water gets into the coop. If you discover this, immediately replace the soggy bedding with dry ones.
You can also use sand as bedding if you wish. It does a good job of coating the poop (much like kitty litter) making it easy to be sifted and scooped out. The only downside to using sand is that it is rather expensive. You should however treat it as an investment because sand does not rot like straw or wood shavings, making them last longer. This saves you money in the long run.
- Plant herbs and fresh flowers around the coop
A natural way of masking odors is to plant various types of herbs and fresh flowers around the coop area. Try planting basil, mint, lavender, thyme or rosemary. These herbs work wonders in getting rid of flies too! As for flowers, I would recommend planting lilac, star magnolia or our personal favorite – sunflowers – all of which smell heavenly.
- Ensure proper ventilation
Always make sure that your coop has sufficient ventilation. This can be done by installing windows and vents in the coop. You can even use a fan to increase the airflow on days where there is hardly any wind. Proper ventilation will help in drying out the bedding and removing excess moisture in the coop thus keeping the smell under control.