As someone who uses the deep litter method, I understand the frustration that comes with a coop that smells like ammonia. It’s not only unpleasant for you, but it can also be harmful to your chickens. So, what can you do to solve this problem? In this article, I’ll share some tips and methods for dealing with ammonia in your deep litter coop.
What is the deep litter method?
Before we get into how to manage ammonia in the deep litter method, let’s quickly review what the deep litter method is. The deep litter method involves adding a layer of bedding material (such as straw, wood shavings, or paper) to your coop and allowing it to build up over time. As the chickens scratch and peck at the bedding, they mix in their droppings, which helps to break down the organic matter and create a compost-like material. The benefits of the deep litter method include reduced odors in the coop, insulation for your chickens in the winter, and the production of compost for your garden.
Why does the coop smell like ammonia?
Ammonia is a byproduct of the breakdown of chicken droppings. It is created when the nitrogen in the droppings mixes with the moisture in the bedding material. If you’re smelling ammonia in your coop, it’s a sign that there’s too much moisture in the bedding material and not enough carbon to absorb it.
Tips for managing ammonia in your deep litter coop
- Add more bedding material
If you’re using the deep litter method and your coop smells like ammonia, don’t panic. The solution may be as simple as adding more bedding material. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the bedding material plays a crucial role in absorbing the moisture from the droppings and breaking down the organic matter. By adding more bedding material, you’re increasing the amount of carbon available to absorb the moisture and reduce the smell of ammonia.
You can use a variety of bedding materials such as straw, wood shavings, or paper. It’s important to note that some bedding materials may work better than others depending on your specific situation. For example, pine shavings are known to have natural odor control properties, while paper may break down faster and require more frequent additions.
When adding more bedding material, make sure to spread it evenly throughout the coop. You can also try mixing in some wood ash or lime to help absorb the moisture and reduce the smell of ammonia. However, be careful not to overdo it with the wood ash, as too much can make the litter too alkaline and affect the composting process.
- Use lime or wood ash
To neutralize the ammonia smell in your deep litter coop, using lime or wood ash is a simple and effective solution. Lime is a natural material that is commonly used in farming to help balance soil pH levels. It can also be used in the chicken coop to neutralize the ammonia smell. Wood ash, on the other hand, is the residue that remains after burning wood. It contains potassium and other minerals that can help to balance soil pH levels as well.
To use lime or wood ash, sprinkle a thin layer on top of the bedding material before and after turning it. This will help to absorb the moisture and reduce the smell of ammonia. However, it’s important to note that using too much lime or wood ash can be harmful to your chickens. It can raise the pH level in the coop, which can lead to respiratory problems for your birds. Therefore, it’s important to use these materials sparingly.
When using lime or wood ash, make sure to wear gloves and a dust mask to protect your skin and lungs. Also, keep in mind that wood ash can contain small pieces of charcoal or embers that could be harmful to your chickens if ingested. So, make sure to sift out any large pieces before using it in your coop.
If you’re not comfortable using lime or wood ash, there are other natural products you can use to reduce the ammonia smell in your coop. One such product is Sweet PDZ, which is made from natural minerals and zeolites. It works by absorbing the ammonia and other odors in the coop, leaving the air fresh and clean. It’s safe for both you and your chickens, and it can also be used in other animal enclosures like rabbit cages or horse stalls.
- Use stall refresher
Stall refresher, like Sweet PDZ, is a product that can work wonders for controlling ammonia in your chicken coop. This product is specially formulated to absorb moisture in animal bedding and neutralize the smell of ammonia. To use it, first, remove the old bedding material from the coop, then sprinkle a layer of stall refresher on the floor of the coop, and cover it with fresh bedding material. After about 30 minutes to an hour, check the coop to see if the smell of ammonia has been reduced. If needed, you can add more stall refresher to further neutralize the odor.
One of the great benefits of using stall refresher is that it’s safe and non-toxic for your chickens. It’s made from natural minerals and can help to keep your coop smelling fresh without harming your birds. Additionally, stall refresher can be used in other animal habitats, such as horse stalls, rabbit hutches, and even litter boxes. It’s an affordable solution that can help you maintain a clean and healthy living environment for your animals.
- Increase ventilation
If you’re experiencing ammonia smells in your deep litter coop, it’s essential to increase the ventilation in the area. Ammonia is a gas that is heavier than air, which means it will accumulate at the bottom of your coop if there isn’t proper ventilation. To remedy this, make sure your coop has adequate openings for fresh air to circulate. If your coop doesn’t have windows or openings, consider installing them to improve air circulation.
Another option is to install a fan to help circulate the air and reduce the concentration of ammonia. Fans can be installed on the side or top of your coop to help draw in fresh air and push out stale air. Be sure to keep the fan on a low setting so that it doesn’t create too much wind and stress your chickens.
It’s important to note that ventilation is crucial for your chickens’ overall health, not just for controlling ammonia levels. Poor ventilation can lead to respiratory problems, which can be harmful to your chickens’ health. Make sure that your coop has enough ventilation all year round to keep your chickens healthy and happy.
- Add First Saturday Lime
Adding First Saturday Lime to your deep litter coop can be an effective way to control the smell of ammonia. This natural product has several benefits that can help to maintain a healthy and comfortable environment for your chickens.
First, it helps to balance the pH level in the coop. Ammonia has a high pH level, which can cause irritation to the chickens’ respiratory system. By adding First Saturday Lime, which has a neutral pH level, you can help to lower the overall pH level in the coop and reduce the risk of respiratory problems.
Second, First Saturday Lime absorbs moisture, which can be beneficial for your deep litter method. When the litter becomes too wet, it can create a favorable environment for bacteria and mold to grow, which can lead to health issues for your chickens. First Saturday Lime helps to absorb excess moisture, keeping the bedding material drier and fresher for longer periods.
To use First Saturday Lime, simply sprinkle a thin layer on top of your bedding material. It’s important not to use too much, as excessive amounts can raise the pH level too much and harm your chickens. Check the label for recommended usage rates and follow the instructions carefully.
In conclusion, managing ammonia in a deep litter coop requires regular maintenance and attention. By adding more bedding material, using lime or wood ash, using stall refresher, increasing ventilation, and using First Saturday Lime, you can reduce the smell of ammonia and create a healthier environment for your chickens.