If you're thinking about raising backyard chickens - or maybe your neighbor is - you're probably wondering, does chicken poop smell?
There's no escaping it with any pets, you're going to have to spend some time cleaning up poop!
I can't lie, chicken poop does smell. But it's honestly not as bad as you might think, and it's not hard to keep on top of the smell.
Here's a look at everything - plus more - than you'd ever need to know about chicken poop!
Does Chicken Poop Smell?
The short answer is, yes - chicken poop does smell.
But it's not as bad as you might think!
Compared to other animals, chicken poop is actually fairly dry and doesn't have a strong odor.
The main reason chicken poop smells is because of the ammonia that's present in it.
Something that comes as a surprise to many is that chickens actually pee and poop at the same time and from the same exit.
Chickens do not urinate like us or a lot of other animals, they actually produce uric acid which is the white bit you see if you look at some chicken poop.
The bottom line is that chicken poop does smell, but you really won't notice it unless there is a build-up of poop in a concentrated area.
In particular, this is why coops can become smelly as the bedding on the coop floor absorbs poop.
This is why you're much more likely to experience that 'chicken smell' inside or around their coop than you are where they roam outdoors.
What Does Chicken Poop Smell Like?
If you've ever had the opportunity to smell chicken poop or manure, you'll know that it smells earthy with a slight ammonia scent.
Ammonia is the main reason chicken poop smells, as we mentioned before. Most of us know what ammonia smells like, it's not a pleasant smell!
It's often described as smelling like sweat or urine, and can really be quite offensive when it's strong.
How to Get Rid of Chicken Poop Smell?
The best way to get rid of a chicken poop smell in your yard or coop is to clean up their coop as often as you can.
As we mentioned, chicken poop is fairly dry which means it doesn't break down and decompose like other animal feces.
This means that the odor lingers longer if you don't clean it up right away.
There are also some deodorizing products on the market that can help, these are designed to neutralize ammonia and other smells produced by poop.
I also know some backyard chicken owners who plant herbs and nice-smelling plants to take the edge off of pungent smells.
You also want to make sure that you have good ventilation in and around your coop.
This is why you'll see most coops are built elevated off the ground, have windows, and sometimes small vents built-in.
Related - More on how to stop chicken manure pongs!
Is the Smell of Chicken Poop Harmful?
Chicken poop and manure doesn't just smell bad, there have been a number of studies into the harm it can do.
This study looks at the damage long-term exposure and inhalation of odorous compounds from chicken and other poultry manure can do.
It states that the airborne particles can be harmful to farm workers spending a lot of time around the waste matter, as well as the surrounding residents as well as animals.
There are also a number of bacteria that can live in chicken waste that can cause some very unpleasant health issues if we come into contact with them.
Salmonella and Campylobacter are two of the most common bacteria that is easily transferred through contact with chicken poop.
In the context of a backyard flock, however, these risks are minimal if you follow good biosecurity precautions and keep on top of the cleaning.
Other animals in your household are at more of a risk than you are, dogs, in particular, might come into contact with infected poop.
Do Chickens Poop a Lot?
There is no other way to say this, chickens poop a lot!
However, they poop more often overnight when they're roosting as this is when chickens digest a lot of the food they collected in their crops throughout the day.
This is a good thing, as it means you can position their roosting bar somewhere where you let all of that poop collect where it's easy to clean up.
You won't see as much poop around your yard as chickens poop a lot less when they free-range during the day as they spend more time foraging for food and less time digesting.
The amount of poop produced by your chickens - as well as the consistency - will also depend on their diet.
A chicken that's fed a high protein diet will produce more waste, and it'll be looser, than a chicken eating less protein.
Different foods, in particular, fruits and vegetables can also change the color of chicken poop, so don't be surprised to see some weird colored poop at times!
Whether you want to raise chickens yourself or you can see your neighbor building a coop, you shouldn't have to worry about chickens creating an unbearable stink.
With a small backyard flock and a diligent cleaning routine, you shouldn't even be able to notice the smell.
If it does start to become a bit pongy, there are a lot of things you can do to get the smell under control.