If you’ve gotten started with chickens, chances are you have become all to familiar with the stinky smell of ammonia in your chicken coop. Ammonia is bad news not just for your nostrils, but for your hen’s health and egg production too.
Sweet PDZ Coop Refresher is an organic certified powder you can sprinkle under your chickens’ roost and around the coop to naturally keep the smell of ammonia down. While it absolutely works wonders, it’s incredibly overpriced.
In this post, I’m going to share with you the DIY Coop Refresher Recipe I created to cut down on ammonia in my chicken coop that's 60% cheaper!
Please note: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you end up clicking and purchasing an item. I worked hard to find my trusted favorites and I want to share them with you so you don't have to deal with all the crappy junk I had to go through. Nuff said.
Where does ammonia come from in your chicken coop?
Ammonia is a rancid smelling gas that is created from the chemical decomposition of uric acid in your hen’s manure (the bird equivalent of urine). Uric acid is made up of nitrogen, and when it gets wet or warm, the chemical decomposition causes the manure to release ammonia gas.
Why is ammonia a problem for your hen’s health?
Ammonia is highly irritating to mucous membranes, specifically your hen’s eyes and respiratory system. When ammonia gets into their respiratory system, it greatly reduces the strength of your hen’s immune system which (on top of the respiratory issues) can increase their risk of getting an infection.
Damage to your hen’s eyes is another concern. Redness and swelling around your hen’s eyelids, AKA Conjunctivitis, is caused by the irritating nature of ammonia gas.
Longer exposure to ammonia levels can lead to weight loss and a drop in egg production.
The issue here is that as humans, we begin to detect ammonia with our noses at about 20 parts per million, but by that point, your hens are already suffering.
Think about it, you stand about 4-5’ taller than your girls when you enter the coop, but your hens are scampering about only 1’ above their litter - much closer to the source of the ammonia. One of the best ways to detect if you are having an ammonia issue is to get down on your hands and knees and take a big whiff - you think I’m kidding but I’m not!
Ultimately, you must keep bedding as dry as possible to keep ammonia from accumulating in your coop, and I’ve found that Sweet PDZ Coop Refresher is the best way to combat it.
What is Sweet PDZ Coop Refresher?
PDZ is a mineral called zeolite, which can be mined or synthetically made. There are over 250 types of zeolite, but when it comes to your chickens, zeolite clinoptilolite (ZC) is the one you’d be using. ZC is a naturally occurring mineral made up of silica and aluminum oxide. It is mined in the US and various countries from volcanic tuff, meaning rock that has seen volcanic activity in the past.
How does PDZ reduce ammonia?
Zeolites have a high adsorption rate (yes you read that right ADsorption) which means that the atoms, ions, or molecules from a substance adhere easily to the adsorber. In the case of zeolite used in chicken coops, it stops the smell of ammonia because the zeolite adheres and neutralizes excess nitrogen in the uric acid. No excess nitrogen means no ammonia being generated.
What are the other benefits of PDZ?
PDZ when mixed with your used coop bedding also acts as a slow-release fertilizer for your garden by offering up nitrogen and potassium to your plant’s roots without burning them.
It’s not harmful or toxic to humans, just be mindful of breathing in the dust. Like any fine particle it can irritate your lungs a bit if you aren’t careful when applying it.
Why and how to make your own Coop Refresher?
The issue is the brand name Coop Refresher is so dang expensive at nearly a $1.80 a pound ($17.95 for a 10lb bag) that I can’t justify the expense. So I went to work to make my own Coop Refresher that does double duty by both reducing ammonia and nixing nagging pests like lice and mites.
The trick is to split your sourcing between shopping online (so convenient I know) and shopping at your local feed store. Because the bags of PDZ are so heavy, shipping costs are insanely high. When you shop locally for PDZ you’ll see much more reasonable prices, typically $10.95 for 20lbs locally versus $17.95 for 10lbs online!
On top of PDZ, I include diatomaceous earth in my DIY recipe to help keep external parasites away. I also add bentonite clay to keep things extra dry with my hens’ bedding and for an extra mineral boost when I compost the bedding and use it in my garden. Lastly, I include barn lime for additional grit and calcium for my hens. They will pick up the small pieces of rock in the barn lime and eat it so their gizzard can use it as grit.
By making your own Coop Refresher, it's 60% cheaper than buying it! Seriously, it's a win-win for me and the hens.
DIY Coop Refresher Recipe ~95lbs (.63 cents a pound)
That’s it folks! Have you used Sweet PDZ Coop Refresher before? I hope this post can save you a chunk of change and help keep your hens healthy and happy!
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Thanks for stopping by Green Willow Homestead! From chicken rearing to composting, we've got our hands full and we love sharing what we've learned along the way. Follow along as we strive to live sustainably and turn these five acres from just property to a fully functioning regenerative farm.
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