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Deep Litter Method The Easiest Way To Deal With Chicken Litter Dlm


Deep Litter Method

DLM is basically a method in which you allow your coop litter to build up over a period of time. As the chicken manure and litter of choice compost, it helps to heat the coop, which in turn helps keep the chickens warmer. I had never heard of this before BYC and cleaning the coops once or twice a year, as opposed to weekly cleanings fits our lifestyle.

I began using the DLM in early September '07, when we moved most of our Bantam flock from the Teacup Pterodactyl Townhouse into the main coop. I started out by adding 4 - 6 inches of pine shavings to the coop floor. After laying down the shavings, I used my sifter to sprinkle a fine layer of food grade DE over the litter, then stirred them together. I'm using the DE to help dry the pooh faster, which helps eliminate odor and reduces the fly population. The DE also helps protect the flock from mites/lice as they love to dust-bathe in the shavings/DE mix.

Litter first added to coop in September.

1st layer of litter

I added a "kick-board" to the doorway to help keep the litter in the coop. I just used a piece of scrap 1/4" plywood that we had handy. It's 10" tall.


I stir the litter every few days, sometimes everyday, it just depends on how much time the gang spends inside and how much pooh there might be. The Banties do a great job helping me keep it stirred when they're dust-bathing in the litter, which helps cut down the work for me also. Cool

About once a month, I'll add a fresh layer of pine shavings and food grade DE. Again, this varies depending on how much time the birds spend inside. That's what I like about using the DLM. There are no set rules, you do this however it works best for you.

Before adding new shavings...

Before new litter

Layer of food grade DE on stirred liter...

food grade DE on litter

Layer of fresh pine shavings...

Fresh pine shavings

At this point, I just let the flock stir in the new shavings and food grade DE. I don't measure how much of the shavings I add, I just add it until the old stuff is fully covered.

As of today (11-20-07), I've been building the litter up for just over 2 months. There is no chicken smell in the coop what-so-ever, which really surprised visitors. It is approximately 6-8 inches deep at this time. I may do a clean-out in spring, but I may let it go will all depend on smell, how deep it is, are the shavings covering up the pophole door (just kidding)...

I've had some dust issues, nothing major though. I just use a plant mister full of warm water and mist the shavings before stirring them up to help keep the dust down.

I'm also using DLM in the Chick-N-Barn. I just added a few pieces of wood in the access door to help hold the litter inside. I won't be able to go very deep, about 6 inches, so I'll probably have to clean it twice a year. Only time will tell.

Deep Litter Method Threads:

Deep litter ChrisnTiff

Deep litter method ? domromer

Deep litter method? Help Sunny Day

Deep Litter Method, Please explain, ? from sunnynparadise

Can I use the deep litter method with Southeast Texas humidity? bionic_chicken

Deep litter and linoleum floor? ebonykawai

Getting mixed up...deep Sunny Day

Thanks for stopping by! I hope more people will make a page showing how they use the DLM.

Dawn & Skip

updated: 4/12/08


Coop & Run - Design, Construction & Maintenance Forum Section

Comments (72)

diatomaceous earth. You can pick it up at tractor supply.
Yep, picked it up the other day
I buy timothy hay by the bale to feed my house rabbit. Would I be able to substitute that for the shavings?
I just found out that feed stores, the ones that actually mix the feed on site, have DE in stock! They mix it in their feeds. It's .69/lb here.
I'm definitely using this method once I move my chicks to their permenent coup!
Thanks for the article!
it is the best way to keep a coop for sure. I just did the spring clean today( i have not cleaned my coop since Sept 2011) and other than the pile on the floor, you wouldnt know. its smells earthy not stinky, and i have healthy happy chickens. i use shavings on the floor, but have hay in my nest boxes so of course that falls in the mix and it doesnt seem to make a difference.
I'm curious, is the DE the same as what you would use for a DE pool filter or is it different?
The DE you want in your coop is FOOD GRADE DE, and the stuff you put in your pool filter is NOT food grade.
Thanks for the info on the DLM. I have 2 questions: 1) will this method work with a concrete and NOT an earth floor and 2) how much ventilation do you need for this method? I plan to add only passive ventilation (windows, vents). If I have enough openable windows and regularly add more litter when it gets "smelly," should I be okay? Do you water inside and outside the coop or inside only? Is there a problem with water spillage causing damp areas in the litter?
So, I guess I went to 4 questions....Thanks !
I have an open air coop and have been using straw as liter cover. Is this an acceptable for the deep liter method?
We use DLM in our concrete coop[
Thanks, Nychickenfarm
Not a problem... We start it late fall through winter... the first warm day in April we empty... You might want to use a mask when you empty your coop. : )
I've been using the deep layer method since last fall and it works great! The hens, and now baby chicks, are constantly stirring it themselves! I never have to do it for them. I have to hang my feeder higher and put a wooden box upside down under it for them to step up to the feeder, because they would fill it with straw and pine shavings as they are scratching for bugs. I also occasionally throw in some scratch (cracked corn and seeds) for them to find. Even if I don't they still stir it up, looking for bugs. My later is actually one shrink wrapped bundle of pine shavings and one small bale of alfalfa (there was no straw at the farm store that day) and it has nicely filled my coop floor with about 6 inches of layer. I assume I will have to add new material more often, once my 8 chicks are bigger. The wonderful part is that there is no smell. The only time it started to smell like urine was when the hens went broody. I highly recommend this method!
It is a great method! Very easy to do!
i have been using hay for bedding. but it dosent asorb and gets EVERYWERE!! i used pine chips before but there a pain, what should i use, and also what do you use? thanks!
What about the rive sand method?. I think it will be much better. I will try it when my babies are big enough. I have a converted dog run with a nice roof. I just need roost boxes and voila!
I've been using shredded paper from my micro cut paper shredder. It's a cross cut shredder so the shreds aren't long. Using this paper with the deep litter method seems to be working very well so far. The paper clumps to any messy poops and is extremely easy to clean up with a shop vac when I'm ready to give the girls a fresh roosting area. I also use it as bedding in the lay boxes. It really cushions the eggs and doesn't attract mites or lice. Best of costs nothing to replace and the ladies love it!
Thanx ScottN73!!
Paper shredder is a GREAT ideal for the layin boxes! Gonna start saving my shredded paper now...& save me $$Money!! :D
DLM is a Great Method....been usin it for years!...Cant afford to keep buyin 8.0 cu. ft pine shavings for TSC every week!!
My girls work kick the pine shavings outta there layin boxes & I add new every other day...after awhile...I just pick it up off the floor & put it back in their nest...hehe
Just a word, I wouldn't use hay for deep litter method. Shavings compost quicker which keeps the smell down. Hay is not as absorbent and anytime the litter is damp it will get smelly and grow bacteria!
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