As bacteria break down manure, they generate the foul-smelling gas known as ammonia.
Not only does it smell unpleasant and pose a risk to the health of the chickens and the person caring for them, but it also indicates that nitrogen is actually evaporating.
High amounts of ammonia in the chicken coop’s air can make chickens less inclined to eat, which can affect the development of young chickens and may reduce egg production in laying hens.
When ammonia gas dissolves in the fluid surrounding the eyes, it irritates, inflames, and even results in blindness. A chicken may die if it can’t see to find enough food and water.
Conjunctivitis brought on by ammonia is characterized by eye rubbing, aversion to motion, and avoidance of direct sunlight.
Even if affected hens do not pass away from ammonia blindness, chickens could be harmed by inhaling ammonia fumes. Once inhaled, harmful bacteria may enter a chicken through its upper respiratory tract membrane, causing them to get infected and possibly pass away.
Before the ammonia concentration is high enough to harm a chicken’s respiratory system or cause conjunctivitis, it is concentrated enough for humans to smell.
If you smell ammonia, replace the litter inside the chicken coop. You might also have to improve ventilation inside the chicken coop. A chicken’s cells that were harmed by ammonia fumes should heal themselves within a few weeks, once the problem is addressed.