How to Keep My Ducks from Smelling


Many farmers enjoy keeping ducks on their property for various reasons – not only are these fowls versatile with being a source of meat, but they’re also known to lay eggs that make for unique and delicious meals.

The downside, however, is that ducks are not the most popular when it comes to hygiene. They are generally not picky with their living conditions, and they may even poop where they eat and sleep. 

Unfortunately, this does not help with the ducks’ reputation for being smelly animals. So, how do you keep your ducks from smelling bad? After all, if you’re looking to keep your duck for a long time, it may help you, in the long run, to fix the odor once and for all.

First and foremost, ensure your duck run and house is kept clean. Ventilation is key in making the pen smell less intrusively, and in turn, your ducks will be less smelly too. You may also want to look into your ducks’ diet as this, too, can affect how they smell. Finally, you may consider washing them if the smell gets too strong for you.

Let’s find out more on how to help your ducks smell less foul below.

A Stinky Reputation: Why Do Ducks Smell so Bad?

As you can see, keeping ducks from smelling is just a task that requires a little effort. So, how did ducks gain the reputation of becoming smelly poultry?

It’s Their Living Conditions That Are Smelly

Sometimes, it’s not that your ducks are smelly, but it’s their living conditions instead.

If your ducks are mostly kept indoors where they would eat, poop, and live, then chances are that they’ll pick up on the smell. You can help deter this by ensuring their coop is cleaned often and have good ventilation year-round.

Overcrowded Coops Contribute to Smelly Ducks

While it may be easier to keep all your ducks in a single coop, this may contribute to a smelly flock of poultry in the long run. This is especially true if your ducks are roaming freely around the coop and as they trek their feces around the pen.

Most times, the unpleasant smell that you’re whiffing may be that of dried duck feces.

Getting Rid of the Stink: How to Make Your Ducks Less Smelly

Despite being cute farm animals, especially when they’re little, ducks are generally poultry that doesn’t care too much for their living conditions. As long as your ducks are well fed, have access to water, and have sufficient space to move about, they’re happy to be wherever you allow them to roam.

Sadly, this may contribute to a messy coop for your ducks and, in turn, cause your ducks to smell bad. Many first-time duck owners may not be aware of this and may find it difficult to handle the foul smell. Thankfully, there are some easy ways to help you maneuver around this smell.

Keep the Duck Pen Clean

This may be an obvious solution, but keeping the duck coop clean is the most important point to having less smelly ducks. Because your ducks may poop freely in the coop, they will likely step on their poop and trek it all around. The ammonia in the duck’s poop contributes to this foul smell and becomes worse as it dries.

Hence, you’ll want to ensure you can spend some time once or twice a week to clean out the duck coop. Paper lining may become wet easily, so you may consider using other materials like hay, straw, or rice hulls. Be sure to keep ventilation open, so the air can help lift away any foul smells.

Stagnant water can also contribute to a smelly pen, and this smell may cling onto your duck. As such, you’ll want to check the coop for any trapped water or create a system so water can flow out instead of being kept inside.

A great way to keep the duck pen smelling fresh or to mask away the smell is by liberally spreading lime with sawdust around the coop. While this may be a lot of work in the long run, it would help keep your ducks less smelly, so you’ll have a better duck rearing experience overall.

Change Your Ducks’ Diet

Here’s an odd but true trivia: What your ducks eat can change how they smell. While we know ducks normally only feed on what we provide them, but ducks are also known to pick up on worms and other critters that may appear in their coop.

This mix in their diet may contribute to them smelling bad in the long run, making your duck rearing experience an unhappy one. By watching your duck’s diet closely, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to control what’s going into their systems so you can have less smelly fowls in your yard.

Generally, food with higher protein content may be good for your ducks when they are laying eggs. This, however, contributes to smellier poop from your ducks, earning them the name of being smelly poultry. To combat this, you may try to alternate their diet between protein and regular feed, so they become less smelly over time.

Give Your Ducks a Bath

Like most household pets, giving your duck a gentle bath may help them smell less horrid. While this is usually unheard of, these baths can help remove any dried hay or poop that is stuck on your duck’s body. These could be what’s making your duck smell bad, so a bath could be all your duck needs.

If bathing a duck isn’t something you’d like to do, you may also consider bringing them to a pond to clean off. Do be sure to bring your ducks to a clean pond, however, as dirty ponds may work against why you brought them there in the first place.

You may also substitute the pond for an inflatable pool if you’re too far off from the natural resource. As fall and winter approaches, you may want to avoid this method to deter your ducks from falling ill.

Although ducks don’t need a pond or a pool, I highly recommend that you provide them some sort of opportunity to swim. Not only for cleanlyness but also because ducks love to swim.

Alternatively, you can spray them down with a garden hose using a wide low-pressure pattern on the hose nozzle. Most ducks love that.

Don’t Keep Your Ducks Indoors

Unlike other pets, ducks are not known to be indoor pets. Where possible, you’ll want to keep your ducks in a coop instead of in your house. While it may be cute to watch them waddle about in your home, this could contribute to a case of the smelly duck as they won’t have a proper place to poop.

In case you’ve set up a spot for them to poop in your home, you’ll want to ensure you clean it out as frequently as you can. This is as some ducks may develop a habit of eating their own feces – an unfortunate habit that’s not only smelly but can be quite unsanitary in the long run.

If your duck is finding a kick in this habit, you can try to coax it away from eating its own poop by giving it snack alternatives. Some fruits and vegetables will make for great treats, although you’ll have to avoid feeding them nut products or any food with large seeds to avoid choking.


Hi, My name is Rasmus. I am a hobby "polytarian" and a backyard farmer. Ever since I was a baby, I have been surrounded by poultry of all kinds. This blog is my way of sharing what I have learned from my bird-crazy family, books, and my personal experience.

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