Four women who allegedly used hundreds of chickens to conceal a consignment of drugs at a suspected brothel in South Africa appeared in court in the capital Pretoria on Monday, police said.

"They used the smell of the chickens to destroy the smell of drugs,'' police spokesman Maanga Singo told AFP.

The narcotics were hidden under a layer of sawdust covered with chicken droppings.

"Not even police sniffer dogs could smell the drugs,'' said Mr Singo.

Police also suspect that the three South Africans and one Nigerian woman used the chickens as a cover story when transporting drugs including cannabis and cocaine crystals.

"The chickens' smell, the chickens' food and the sawdust all overpowered the smell of drugs,'' Mr Singo said.

The women have been charged with drug dealing and prostitution. Police also seized condoms and 100 pornographic movies.

The chickens were confiscated by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).