Do Chickens Smell? Unscrambling the Myth

by Kassandra Smith August 18, 2014

Clean, healthy barnevelder chickens in the backyard

When telling people of your love of chicken keeping, (or your hopes to soon keep chickens), often the response includes a scrunched up nose and unimpressed face- ‘but don’t they, like, stink?’.

Contrary to popular belief, chickens themselves do not actually stink- they may be a fowl, but they don’t have to smell foul!

Most people that have this fear aren’t experienced with chickens, and may have only seen them in a farm or poultry operation- where often a foul smell will come from chickens as they are often kept in poor conditions and not cared for properly.

However, a few birds in a backyard setting is very unlikely to create such a problem.

The odour that is sometimes emitted from your backyard chicken coop is coming from their faeces, which is also true of other pets like cats, dogs or other animals that deposit their waste in the yard.

Where cats and dogs will often answer natures call in a neighbor's yard or public place, chickens droppings are confined to the coop and your own yard, and is much smaller in size and quantity. To put it in perspective, a forty pound dog generates more solid waste than ten chickens. One 40 pound dog generates about ¾ (0.75 pounds) of poo every day. Ten chickens generate about two-thirds (0.66 pounds) of that. Makes the poop situation seem much more manageable!

Better yet, chicken poo is a very valuable resource. Unlike dog or cat poo, chicken manure is a wonderful fertilizer-  just add it to your garden or compost and it won’t be long before your plants and veggie patch are thriving! (Your naysaying neighbours will be green with envy!)

Like with all animals, if they are neglected and not cared for properly, whether it be a cat, dog or chicken, it will create filth and smell. Regular and proper care will prevent the instance of odours, pests and flies in your backyard. Backyard flocks are relatively easy to maintain- just be sure to set a little time aside to clean their coop, and make sure they have adequate dust bathing facilities so they can keep up their own personal hygiene.

So the next time someone comments on your stinky chickens, be sure to give them your ripest tomatoes from your thriving garden, and enquire about their dog's sizeable waste…

Sources and further reading

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