What Smell Do Chickens Hate? (Ways To Keep Them Away)

what smell do chickens hate

Maintaining a peaceful farm is every farmer’s dream. It’s ideal to have a place where you create fresh, delicious produce while caring for animals too, such as chickens.

But if you own a vegetable garden and a flock of backyard chickens, you know that a peaceful farm with no issues is practically impossible. More often than not, you may face issues with chickens that eat or nibble on your veggies and scratch at the soil where you planted your crops.

And if you’re dealing with stray chickens, it’s even worse. The noise of these trespassers’ clucking can be a headache. Plus, they might cause damage to your farm.

One way to deter chickens from coming into specific farm areas is by using scents that they hate. By using the right smells, you can discourage even the hungriest chicken from eating your crops. So, what smell do chickens hate? Here are 10 examples and how to use them in your garden.

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Top 10 Smells That Chickens Hate

1. Citrus fruits



Chickens hate the smell of citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit. The smell of these fruits is so strong and overpowering. Chickens tend to be more reluctant to go close to areas that smell like citrus.

One of the easiest ways to deter chickens with citrus fruits is by simply leaving parts of the fruit near your garden. Orange peels or cut-up lemons and limes are excellent for this. Place them in the entry points that chickens tend to come in—or better yet, directly on your garden beds.

2. Vinegar


Vinegar is known to be one of the most pungent-smelling kitchen ingredients in any home. And it’s not just humans that feel overwhelmed by its smell; chickens feel the same too.

Spray some vinegar solution around your vegetable garden to keep pesky chickens away. Dilute either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar in some water and put the concoction in a spray bottle. Focus your sprays on problem areas.

You can also soak cotton balls or rags in vinegar and leave them near the chickens’ main entry and exit points. Rags can be hung up on shrubs and tree branches, while cotton balls can be left on the ground.


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3. Lavender



Lavender might be soothing for humans. However, it’s too strong for chickens, and they’re put off by its fragrance.

There are plenty of ways to use lavender to discourage chickens from entering your garden. You can dip cotton in some lavender essential oil and scatter it around your crops. You can also plant lavender bushes surrounding your crops. The second option is great if you love these flowers!

4. Peppermint and other minty herbs



Chickens also aren’t fond of the smell of mint. Herbs like peppermint, mint, eucalyptus, and spearmint can help drive them away too. Just crush the leaves of any of these herbs to release their strong aroma into the air in the areas of your garden chickens tend to frequent.

If planting these herbs in garden pots is impractical for you, you can use mint sprays or essential oils to fend off hungry chickens.

5. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is notorious for its strong, distinct, spicy scent. But while it triggers memories of autumn and pumpkin spice lattes in humans, cinnamon can overwhelm chickens, forcing them to leave the area the scent is emanating from.

To use cinnamon to deter chickens, simply sprinkle some cinnamon powder all over your garden, especially in the garden beds or near your crops. Cotton balls soaked in cinnamon essential oil will also work nicely.

6. Strong, peppery spices



Spicy herbs and powders such as cayenne pepper, paprika, black pepper, and curry powder have extremely strong, pungent smells. And while chickens aren’t as sensitive to capsaicin (the compound that makes chilis taste spicy), they’re not immune to the strong scent of spices.

As soon as chickens smell these strong spices, they will be reluctant to come closer. Some chickens might even associate the powerful smells of these spices with danger.

If have powdered spices, you can simply sprinkle them all over your garden to repel chickens. You can also mix them with water and spray them around the vicinity, especially near your high-value crops and plants. Just be careful not to get it into your eyes as you spray your mixture.

Spices are one of the most effective ways to repel chickens from coming into your garden. Watch this short video to learn more examples of powdered spices you can use to keep chickens away from certain areas of your home:

7. Marigolds


Flowers have a reputation for smelling pleasant and heavenly. But not all flowers smell like that; some flowery plants are stinky. Marigolds are one of them. These flowers have a distinctly musky smell similar to wet hay. This odor can be overpowering to animals, including chickens.

Consider planting marigolds in your garden. The gold and amber flowers can add a touch of color and beauty to your garden while working to deter chickens from destroying crops in the area.

8. Catnip


If you have a pet cat in your home who eats catnip, double up on your purchase of their favorite food next time you go to the pet store. Catnip may stimulate and trigger a euphoric feeling in cats, but chickens hate its smell. You can use it to keep them away from your garden.

You can plant your own catnip or just use your cat’s supply and scatter it around your garden beds. You can also make a catnip infusion by combining it with water and placing the mixture in a bottle before spraying it all over the garden to spread its smell.

Just make sure your cat isn’t in the area to smell it. You may end up keeping chickens out, but your cat might end up following the scent of the catnip and lying in your crops instead.

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9. Garlic and onions



Garlic and onions might be excellent flavor enhancers for humans, but even we can’t deny how pungent these vegetables are. Their strong odors reek from yards away, making them the perfect deterrent for chickens who want to enter your garden.

Crush some garlic and slice up those onions and put them together in a small bowl. Leave the bowls out near your garden. One for each entry point is more than enough.

You can also put chopped garlic and onions in a spray bottle with water. Let the mixture sit overnight so that the water becomes potent with the stench of the garlic and onions. The next day, spray it all over your garden to let the smell emanate.

10. Chives



Chives are a type of onion, so they have that unique, pungent onion smell. Consider planting them in your garden to deter chickens from going inside of it. As a bonus, you can use these flavorful herbs in your recipes in the kitchen!

You can also create a simple infusion of water and chives and spray it all over your garden if you don’t wish to plant some.

Other Ways to Repel Chickens

While the smells above can help deter chickens from entering your garden for a while, some chickens might get used to the smells. Once they’re habituated to the smells, they might become undeterred and still go into your garden to ruin your crops.

That’s why it’s smart to switch up which scents you use to keep them out. If this week, you use vinegar, try switching to cayenne pepper or catnip the next week.

Using these strong odors to repel chickens becomes even more effective when you couple it with other deterrents, such as physical barriers or keeping predators in the area. Here are some extra things you can do to repel chickens from your garden area.

  • Install motion-activated sprinklers near your crops that go off and wet the chickens if they come too close.
  • Set up a chicken wire fence around your garden beds as a physical barrier.
  • Hang up scarecrows or decoys such as fake owls and hawks as a scare tactic.
  • Get a farm dog to drive the chickens out of your garden. Some breeds that are excellent for these are terriers, Labrador retrievers, and German shepherds.


If you know the scents that chickens hate, it will be way easier to keep them out of your vegetable garden. Luckily, there are plenty of them. Whether you use garlic, vinegar, citrus fruits like lemons and limes, or anything listed above, you’ll find success deterring chickens at least for a little while.

And if those stubborn chickens can’t take no for an answer and still try to nibble on your crops, try physical deterrents and barriers, like sprinklers, scarecrows, or a fence. In conjunction with strong odors from spices and flowers, these deterrents will work marvelously.

We’re crossing our fingers that you can finally maintain the integrity of your vegetable farm and keep those clucking chickens away! Comment down below to share your experiences with any of the scents we listed down (or other smells you’ve noticed that chickens hate!).

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