Keeping chickens - smell?

(11 Posts)
januarysnowdrop Tue 13-Sep-16 21:16:11

Hello - I'm taking the plunge and getting a coop and three chickens for our garden (arriving next week). They're going to have about 7.5 square metres of run, which I'm planning to cover with woodchip (possibly with sand underneath, as part of the whole garden redesign involves getting rid of the old sand pit). They'll be able to free range when someone is outside with them, but most of the time they'll be in the run, as I don't want to sacrifice the entire garden to them.

Unfortunately, dh is very anxious about the potential smell (he has a stronger sense of smell than me, as bad luck would have it). Any advice for what I might be able to do, or to tell him, that might give him some reassurance?

PoshPenny Tue 13-Sep-16 21:27:34

I don't think our chickens smell. We have an industrial scale chicken farm a couple of fields behind us and when they clean out their sheds, well, it's eyewatering. If you clean them out regularly I can't see why they would smell, but he might mind the free range droppings though.

AtSea1979 Tue 13-Sep-16 21:30:01

We looked after two and they absolutely stunk, was so glad when we parted ways.

ZippyNeedsFeeding Tue 13-Sep-16 22:07:54

That is quite a small area and I think the smell might build up. We had nearly 100 birds of various kinds, but spread over 10 acres and since the house was mucked out regularly we never had any smell issues.

Knitella Wed 14-Sep-16 20:44:17

I agree that 7.5m2 is a small area for them to spend most of their time. I've had my 3 a few weeks and although I don't think the smell is bad they do poo LOTS. I was surprised! I get A large dustpan worth a day from 3 chickens. I sweep up all the poo on the ground (mix of grass and earth) each night and clean their coop and change food and water daily. I'd say they take about 20 mins a day of care plus letting them out first thing and shutting them in at night. This may seem OTT for some folk but in a smaller area I think you need to do more cleaning. So if you don't clean as much they may smell.

I have urban chickens and they are in an eglu go up coop and run if nobody is home (I'm on mat leave so this isn't a huge part of the day) and, aside from night time when they are in their coop, they are in their 21m length omlet netting. I hope to make this a bit bigger at some point. Due to our urban location sadly I can't let them free range safely.

We are lucky and have two separate garden areas. So the chickens are not where the kids play and where I grow my nice flowers. To be honest, as much as I love my ladies, unless my garden was huge I wouldn't be mad keen on them free ranging in a garden the kids played in. Some of the poos are huge. They'd also eat all my nice plants!! That's just me though.

I hope that helps a bit smile

Helen1966 Fri 04-Nov-16 18:16:30

You can buy a bedding for their hpuse which has citronella int it. I forget what it's called, but it's like chaff (chopped hay/straw).
The citronella makes it smell fresh and in the summer helps keep flies away.

Pixel Sat 05-Nov-16 21:34:49

I've got three in a walk-in run about the same size as yours I think (though I'm not great with metres!). I'm very conscious of not letting them smell as due to the staggered design of the houses my neighbour's patio is right on the other side of the fence. We've had them a few years now and so far so good. I've got a scoop like you use for cat litter and a lidded bucket and I go in and pick up everything I can see on the ground. Usually only needs once a day but will do more often if the weather is hot. The coop has the poos picked out every morning before it starts to smell and it doesn't actually need a proper clean out all that often (we have thick newspaper topped with shavings in the main part and hay in the nest box). After I clean out I spray liberally in every crevice with the Nettex red mite spray which gives a lovely lavender smell.

Are you having a roof on your run? We didn't have a great roof to start with and the run was getting quite muddy at one point. It did begin to smell quite badly then because the poo was getting trodden in instead of cleaned away. Since we replaced the roof and the run is very dry inside (we also have a wall at the back and the shed to one side which helps keep it dry, you might need to consider covering one side) we haven't had a problem at all. We do replace the bark at intervals because however careful you are it will get messy eventually. You can also get ground sanitation powder which is like a disinfectant that also reduces worms and discourages flies.

As for the sand, they would probably just dig it up and mix it with the bark. If you are ok with that fine, I'm just not sure how easy it would be to dispose of in future. My girls have got a big high-sided tub with sand and dirt in so they can get in there and have a good scratch around, you could always use your sandpit sand for that.

CaptainMorgansMistress Tue 08-Nov-16 22:26:04

Bark is best avoided as it grows a mould which spores are bad for the chickens breathing. Hard wood chips are fine.

Our bantams have a fully covered run with aubiose in which works brilliantly. The poo gets dried straightaway and doesn't smell. We sprinkle over ground sanitiser weekly and rake through and no smells. Aubiose in the nest box and poo tray of the coop and works just as well there.

They also have a large grassy outside area. I would think carefully about whether you could give your chickens a larger run. The minimum space they need is 2sq m per bird but this is still quite small and your chickens will be happier and display less problem behaviours if they have plenty of space.

Pixel Thu 10-Nov-16 21:38:37

Do you know I've just come on here to ask about exactly that! I'm not really happy with the bark, especially after one of my girls impaled her foot on a sharp bit and I had to soak it in salt water. I was using it originally because I can get it for free. I've actually been thinking about the auboise for our run (thought it would also be warm underfoot if we have a cold winter) and was going to ask if anyone else had used it. You've made up my mind for me, thanks smile. My only reservation is whether it sticks to your shoes and treads everywhere, but then I'm going to get mucky walking to and fro the garden anyway if it's wet.

CaptainMorgansMistress Thu 10-Nov-16 23:06:22

Pixel - you do need to keep aubiose dry, otherwise I think it would just suck up the rain and go soggy and mouldy fairly quickly. But in a covered run it works fabulously.

I can't get into my run easily but I don't think it would stick to your boots particularly unless they were covered in mud when you went in there.

Also it's supposed to be brilliant for putting onto compost heaps because it breaks down so quickly and the chicken poo is an excellent fertiliser. Can't vouch for this myself but I've heard it plenty!

Pixel Fri 11-Nov-16 17:45:46

I was just thinking that I have to walk across the lawn to get to the run which wouldn't be too much of a problem normally but our (privately rented) house is sort of 'back to front' so the back door opens straight on to the beige-carpeted living room! I do have to be careful or I'm forever shampooing. I'm sure it will be fine though, no worse than the mud and grass anyway.
Chicken poo is great for compost (that is where the bark is another problem, it takes so long to rot). My grandad used to have a smallholding and my mum remembers that he used to move the chicken run every year, and then dig over the used patch and grow his onions there.

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