If you keep chickens in your yard or on your property, then you probably don't have to be told that chicken coops can develop a less-than-pleasant aroma over the course of time. A stinky chicken coop is not particularly enjoyable for anyone and it can cause you problems if you have near neighbors. Neutralizing chicken coop odor takes time and effort, but is well worth it.
The Odor Problem
Chickens spend all day every day eating, pooping and—if you're lucky—laying eggs. Chickens are not particularly picky about where they poop and your coop is eventually going to develop a distinctive odor as a result of built-up chicken feces combined with other various grimes. A smelly coop will not harm your chickens, but a dirty coop can put them at risk for health problems as a result of built-up bacteria. It is important to treat both the odor problem in your chicken coop and its underlying cause.
Agricultural lime is also known as gardening lime. It is made from crushed limestone and its primary benefit is that it neutralizes soil pH and eliminates odors. Acidic soil is often caused by over-fertilization. In the case of your chicken coop, acidic soil will have been caused by chicken poop. If your chicken coop is sitting on the ground and does not have a floor, using lime on the soil will help promote the growth of grass and plants.
Cleaning Your Coop
Before you can use agricultural lime to neutralize the odors in your chicken coop and improve your soil quality, you need to give your coop a good cleaning. Hose your chicken coop down and wash away as much dirt, grime and feces as you can. If desired, you can disinfect the coop by applying a mixture of diluted bleach and water to the surfaces. Use a 1:32 ratio of bleach to water. Bleaching nesting boxes, roosts, walls and other permanent fixtures within the coop will help eliminate the smell. You do not want to bleach any areas where you want grass or plants to grow.
Using Agricultural Lime
After your coop is clean, sprinkle a light coating of lime across the floor. Lime can be put on the ground or placed on flooring underneath shavings or other bedding. Leave the lime in place to continue to fight odors. Add more lime whenever you clean out your coop or smell the odor returning.
- University of Florida: Guidelines for Using Bleach [PDF]
- West Virginia University: The Value of Agricultural Limestone
- University of Minnesota: Agricultural Lime [PDF]
- University of Missouri: Pelletized Lime for Short-Term Treatment of Soil Acidity [PDF]
- Backyard Chicken Farmer: Chicken Coop Care
- The Country Chicken: Chicken Care
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Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.