I've read in a lot of places that many people bring their day old chicks into the house and set up a spot in the basement for them with a heat lamp in a kiddy pool or bin. So, since we didn't get to the brooder on time we figured we'd just keep them close so we could interact with them more in the early weeks (cause they're so cute!) and not have to go out to the barn several times a day to check on them. So I set up an old sandbox in the basement, suspended a heat lamp from a bungee cord, spread some pine shavings and put my little flock down there. It was cool the first day or 2. But then it started to stink! And I was changing their litter every day, washing out food and water bowls daily. The stink would lessen a bit after cleanup, but by day 4-5+ the smell was so awful I couldn't stand it! I could start to smell it from the kitchen and it was making me want to hurl! I had to wear a mask just to go in the basement, the smell was atrocious!
How do people keep chicks in the their basement for longer than a couple days? Do they have smaller flocks? We had 20 chicks, 3 turkeys, and 2 Pekin ducklings. Perhaps with just a few chicks it would smell a lot less... My hubby made quick work powerwashing the brooder that had been in our barn when we moved here 2 yrs ago and hadn't been used in years. We sterilized it, were delighted to find the electrical heating system still works, installed the red light bulbs and waited for the thing to pre heat- which couldn't happen fast enough!! PHEW!! I and they are both very happy they are in their new home in the brooder- lots more space and the humans don't bug them as much.
The smell wasn't ammonia, it was everything mixed together and it was so thick! * Blech, shudder!* As soon as I got them out, removed every bit of chicken paraphernalia from the house the smell was gone, then I washed the room with Lysol (which is reserved for extreme cases of ick factor, normally I stick to organic or homemade stuff). Ahhhh. Relief! They've been in the brooder for a few days and doing lovely, the smell isn't building up at all like it did in the house, thankfully!
So, if you brought your chicks in the house in the beginning, did you have stink issues? How soon did you get them out? And if you are planning on getting chicks and are a chick virgin (as I was!) and you're thinking you'll keep them in the basement for a few weeks- you might want to have a plan B ready in case you find the smell unbearable!!