Cage odors?

User avatar

Post   » Thu Feb 15, 2007 1:05 am

I am sure this has probably been posted somewhere before, but I fully confess to being too lazy to look it up.

Here's my problem:

I have my two pigs in a 2x4, bedded on fleece. They have been with us since December. I change the once every day to day and a half. Even though I consider myself to be a pretty conscientious gp owner, it has come to the point that you just can't deny that "barnyard odor" in my house. The boys are in a high traffic area in the heart of our house and the smell is undeniable. (Me personally, I grew up on a farm, around animals of all types, so I don't mind the smells at all, but houseguests are starting to raise an eyebrow.)

What do you folks use to keep odors at a minimum? I need to tell you all that I am allergic to a lot of soaps, cleaning products and etc. I am also allergic to artificial air fresheners. Just about anything that has a strong scent.

-- I just had a thought: I think there are unscented 'odor neutralizers' out there. Have any of you tried one? And what were your results?
Thanks in advance, all!

User avatar

Post   » Thu Feb 15, 2007 1:16 am

Is there an odor to the fleece after you wash it? Sometimes adding vinegar to the wash helps.

Otherwise - what are you putting under the fleece? What kind of fleece is it? Some fleece is better than others.


Post   » Thu Feb 15, 2007 1:39 am

I had two pigs in a 2x4 C&C with a 1x2 loft (now I have three) and I change the fleece 1x a week.

I put a layer of towels down and then polyester fleece. Some of the fleece I have is thicker than the others and the thinner stuff gets smellier faster.

User avatar

Post   » Thu Feb 15, 2007 3:03 am

Ok - we are going to try the vinegar, it sounds like it could really help.

We use the thinner fleece, so that is probably why it is getting smelly quicker. The towels we have been using underneath are on the thin side as well, so I will maybe add another layer of towels - more absorption = less smell, maybe?

User avatar

Post   » Thu Feb 15, 2007 3:49 am

I use fleece and towels for most of the girls cage, however I have a small section around the water bottles and food bowls that is divided off and has recycled paper bedding and newspapers rather than fleece and that really seems to help, since it's in the areas most likely to get wet.

User avatar
Piggie Power

Post   » Thu Feb 15, 2007 7:44 am

I can't figure out how some people can get by with only changing their fleece once a week. I read this all the time. Both my towels and newspapers under the fleece get soaked with urine after only a day! Plus, the poops make the fleece poopy smelling, and naturally the rooms smells! Even if vacuumed or picked clean!

User avatar
one pig at a time.

Post   » Thu Feb 15, 2007 8:00 am

There is no way my cages could go a whole week either. Every other day to every second day is max on my cage(with the exception of the herd's cage because it is double the recommended size) or I think it stinks and has wet spots. I only use the premium fleece otherwise I can smell it a lot sooner.

Who's your Branni?

Post   » Thu Feb 15, 2007 8:32 am

I would think that incontinence pads are much more absorbant than newspapers.


Post   » Thu Feb 15, 2007 8:44 am

When I used fleece, I only changed it out once a week. I had a layer of fleece with a layer of towel and a layer of puppy pads underneath that. Except when my head was in the cage to sweep up poops and near the end of the week, I never smelled much of anything at all. I buy the puppy pads by the boxload from a seller I found on ebay. It takes 8 of them to make an even layer over the bottom of my cage, and a box of 200 lasts about 20-25 cage cleanings.

I'm seriously considering going back to the fleece bedding. While the shavings seem to control odor longer if I'm a day or two late cleaning out the cage, I had forgotten how much garbage there is with them.

Who's your Branni?

Post   » Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:22 am

Shavings make my lungs close up and fast. I also think with all the vacuuming I do of stray poos and hay..that I would be really weary of all the crazy shavings on the floor!!

User avatar

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 7:52 pm

Just wanted to add that I tried the vinegar when washing the fleece and it worked great! I am still getting a bit of a 'barnyard odor', but it is more the hay than anything. What the heck, people will just have to deal with it. :) The hay is nice and fragrant, and that just means it's good quality for my boys. :)

User avatar

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:08 pm

I have switched to fleece for about 2 weeks now. I change mine twice a week. My mother has the most sensitive nose in the world and is not too enthused about the "contraption" in the living room, and she says she can't smell a thing.

Maybe it is because mine are still babies, but here is our setup:

They are in a 2x5 with a 1x2 hayloft. I use 2 layers of newspapers, a layer of thick towels, and 2 layers of fleece, which is thick because it is actually a fleece blanket cut up.

User avatar

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:04 pm

Try placing some charcoal briquettes in a small container (coffee can) and punch holes in it to allow it to absorb the odors.

I don't think charcoal is toxic, but keep the can out of the cage and place it nearby. It works very well in absorbing odors. After a few weeks, the charcoal stops working and you can throw it out and replace it; it's cheap.

User avatar

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:05 pm

Wow, rocinate, I had never thought of that! I think we have some charcoal in the shed from this summer - I will give it a try!

User avatar
new piggie mom

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:14 pm

Activated carbon should be totally safe. Aquarium water and drinking water for humans is generally run through activated carbon to purify it. I wonder if a layer spread under the last layer of bedding, were thhe piggies are unlikely to reach it, might help too?

Naturally, if they smell that bad that fast, perhaps have them checked for urinary tract infections. I had one piggie who smelled bad even minutes after a cage cleaning. It was CHOKINGLY pungent. Yuckk. And she and her quarantine cage were always sopping wet.

Now that she has been under treatment for UTI, her cage stays sweeter-smelling for days, not minutes.

User avatar

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:30 pm

NPM, I think putting the charcol under the fleece would make too big of a mess. When I used to do "make your own water filter" with kids, the carbon was the messiest component. It's very tightly confined in a water filter to keep it clean.

User avatar
Cavy Slave since '05

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:49 pm

We learned our solution at the regional convention that we got our first pig from. (We didn't know any better back then.) There were many hundereds of pigs in a fancy motel ball-room and no smell! The secret was wood pellets for burning in a wood pellet stove for heat (easy to find in high/cold country but may be difficult elsewhere). They are an absolute Godsend for absorbing moisture and odor.

I had quinea pigs as a kid and used cedar shavings (now considered bad, I realize) and the ammonia urine order was terrible after a couple days. If you use wood pellets, there is virtually no smell for many days. the pellets even let you know when they need changing. they dissolve and turn to saw-dust consistancy as they absorb moisture (and smell). When the majority starts to look like the floor of a wood working shop, it is definately time to change them (preferably, you will change them before this point).

We had covered the entire floor of the cages with these, but that tends to be a bit trouble some and uses a lot of pellets (they are fairly cheap, but this method had us using a full 40 pound bag every week or so). We now have a fleece floor (with a matress pad and newspaper underneath), but beer flat boxes of pellets for "pee" boxes in each cage. We put the hay lofts above these boxes to give the little guys an extra reason to hang out in the box and get used to being in them. These need to be changed only every few days.

I may be a bit nose deaf, but we have had no comments from any visitors (including those that are not nose deaf or have any real concern of social grace). This method (asside from the total floor coverage) does depend upon your pets willingness to use the boxes. Ours occasionally miss, but most of the time they have found that the boxes are best. We only (thank God for smart little pigs) change the fleece once every week or so (and then, usually because they have found a way to completely make a mess of the floor with small bits of hay). We also vacuum the cage once a day.

User avatar
new piggie mom

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 11:00 pm

Hmmm, rshevin, you're right. Unless, maybe, do they still make those flat carbon cartridges that would slide into a filter box? They were the size of a large post-card, a porous sleeve with carbon inside. Maybe laying one under a potty corner might help? (OK, it's late and my brain might be on vacation-!) Heck maybe I'll try to find one, just to see.

User avatar

Post   » Sun Feb 18, 2007 12:14 am

Here's how we keep the smell down, and I realize that not everyone has the space we do, but maybe some of this will help.

First, we have 4 adult pigs: 2 boars, 1 neutered boar, 1 sow. We have two 3x6 cage grids. Two pigs in each 3x6 cage. We also don't use a coroplast base.

So, we cut 2 large, heavy-duty construction trash bags so that they were flat, and laid them down over the carpet. Then, we put x-large size puppy training pads over those. These pads have a lining that absorbs fluids. We used to use old towels, but the washing and changing effort became too much for a working family. The puppy pads are expensive, though, but worth it, as you'll see below.

Over that, we layer on some el-cheapo fleece blankets we picked up for $4 each at the fabric store. These aren't very absorbent at first, but the more you wash them, the more absorbent they get. I would avoid using any kind of fabric softener in the wash. I like the vinegar idea, and will try that next time.

Then we lay the cage grids over the fleeces, leaving us at least a foot between them and around them so we can service the hay, food, water, etc.

Here's the part that really helped, when we did this: We found 4 plastic bins at a Walmart that measured 18" x 24" x 6" approximately. We got what was on sale. Then we used a razor knife to cut an opening in one side. The healthy pigs just step right in; they don't need an opening, but one of our pigs is crippled, so he needs an entrance. Then we put Carefresh in that. I'm also thinking about starting to use a folded towel under the Carefresh. Anyway, this makes an eating/litter area.

We hang their water dispensers over the litter area. We put their pellet bowls in there, too. Then we got 4 wire baskets at K-mart and we hang those from the side using paper clamps, and we put hay in the baskets. The basket hangs high enough up that they can hide underneath it if they want to, and they frequently do. In fact, the sow pulls hay down around the sides so that she has a hay tunnel.

They do all their eating, nearly all their peeing, and most of their pooping in the litter box, which we change as often as needed. They don't have a regular change schedule, since even though all the pigs have their own litter area, they usually end up sharing, so one gets messier faster than the other. Also, every day or so, as needed, we use a Dustbuster to vacuum up the poops that don't make it into the litter box.

The first day we did this, I was flabbergasted at how well it worked. The pigs actually took to the litter boxes extremely well. In the mornings, we pick up any leftover vegetable pieces and vacuum up the poops. Then we check the litter boxes to see if they need changing. The ones that don't, we just clean up the Carefresh from the fleece, then refill the food and hay and water, and that's it.

We only have to change the fleece and puppy pads every two weeks!

The good thing about the puppy pads is that you can immediately see where any pee has leaked through when you change it the first time. Then, when you put the cage back up, just put a folded towel or the litter box in that area, and really, you'll be able to catch pretty much all their messes.

I also have in the room, large bins with rolled up towels, and good size bins with lids that I keep hay in (once punching holes around the sides so the hay can breathe and not mold or anything.) I have a bucket with an air-tight lid that holds the pellets.

The only thing is, the room still smells like a barn, because of the hay. :-) But at least it doesn't smell like urine.

User avatar
Sewing for a Cause

Post   » Sun Feb 18, 2007 1:02 am

We use the thinner fleece, so that is probably why it is getting smelly quicker. The towels we have been using underneath are on the thin side as well, so I will maybe add another layer of towels - more absorption = less smell, maybe?

Personal observations from our home, the thinner fleece isn't your problem, but the towels, yes. Thin towels are not always the best choice when you got the towel & fleece back to back like that.

But then there's the detergents, some work better then others at different view points. Also there is the fact of how full is the washer being packed. Things do seem to work hand in hand with the next to get the outcome. But like I said, that's my personal observations.

Post Reply
56 posts