How to Keep a Chicken and Duck Pen from Smelling

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Chickens and ducks don't need to smell unpleasant if kept in the right conditions.
Chickens and ducks don't need to smell unpleasant if kept in the right conditions. (Image: yasinemir/iStock/Getty Images)

Just because you're keeping chickens and ducks in your backyard, doesn't mean they will add an unpleasant smell to the neighborhood. In reality, chickens and ducks are no messier than a dog in the backyard. However, by taking a few simple precautions, your poultry pens and coops can stay relatively odor free.

Dry Environment

One of the key sources for unpleasant poultry smells is a wet space. This is especially true when there is manure or spilled feed on the ground, which can begin to smell sour after being wet for some time. The source of the dampness could be a leaking waterer or excessive rain. Ducks like to play in the water, so setting the bowl above the ground over gravel or sand is a good idea.

Adequate Space

Even if the bird droppings are dry, an excess amount may cause a pen or coop to have an unpleasant odor. It's important not to overcrowd the birds. A common rule of thumb is to maintain about 10 square feet per bird in the pen and about 4 square feet per bird in the coop. The area size will differ if your birds are very small or rather large.

Good Ventilation

Inside the coop it's vital to have adequate ventilation to allow air to circulate inside and keep the bedding dry. In the pen, make sure there is no standing water or places that don't seem to dry out quickly. Good drainage is key to keeping the pen dry. You may need to add some sand or straw to the floor of the pen if there has been a lot of rain.

Regular Cleaning Schedule

It's a good idea to set up a regular schedule to remove droppings from the coop and the pen. Check your waterers to make sure there are no leaks contributing to dampness. If your pen is in a shady area that does not dry out well, consider covering the pen with a waterproof cover to keep out rain. By following these steps, you can ensure your poultry are pleasant to have around.

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