How to start Deep Litter method in new coop?
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I am new and starting it as wel. I just put about 4 inches of horse pine shavings in the coop. I figure I'll add in some leaves or other stuff if it doesn't decompose well. I am just going to turn it often with a pitch fork. Should work fine as my ventilation is more than enough
Thanks! Since nobody else bothered to reply, I'm going to follow your lead but I'm going to put the small shavings on bottom and the bigger flakes on top. Total of 4" to start.
I think I'm going to quit worrying about it. Our 4 laying hens have been living and producing in a chain link dog kennel with a tarp on top and nothing but dirt on bottom - for a year and a half. This new coop will be like moving into the Ritz Carlton after living in a worn out Motel 6. Lol. Only reason I've been worrying is that we invested in 19 more birds and I wanted to start them out right. But it's not rocket science, so I think I'm over-thinking it.
Thanks for taking the time to reply!
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I am a newbie too as of March 5th. I started my coop with a couple of inches of pine litter from rural king. I have a 6x8 coop and I put one of the packs in. I was surprised how far it went once the pack was opened. After about 2 weeks I raked up one bag of dried leaves from my fence row and threw them in and spread them around. About every three to four weeks I take about 5 minutes, rake some leaves, and throw them in. The first time I did it the hens were scared of the leaves and wouldn't go in. Now they love when I add them as they love scratching threw them. Luckily I have a lot of trees in my back yard so I have plenty of leaves to get me through until this fall when they drop again.
So far I am pleased with this method. Simple, fast, cheap and no odor issues so far. Now that my run is down to dirt I have started throwing some grass clippings in there too after I mow. They love going through those also.
You can start with a few inches of shavings - 4-6" or so to begin with. I have a pine shaving base but have dried leaves and dried pine needles mixed in. I also grow herbs for my chickens and will occasionally toss a handful of various herbs (lavender, marigold, basil, various mints, lemon balm, lemon thyme, cinnamon basil, lemon balm, jasmine bee balm, and some squash blossoms when I have them in the garden - sometimes some nasturtium, rose pedals and native flowers and plants - dandelion, clover blossoms) - the chickens dig around searching for the herbs to eat, which helps the bedding and they also put a nice scent in the coop and nesting boxes (although with DLM you shouldn't have a bad odor) - the various herbs and flowers have various nutritional benefits as well.
I compost in my run, with a wood chip base and the same mix of pine needles, dried leaves, grass clippings, etc. Often, when it comes time to clean out the DLM in the coop, I add it to the run (either mix it into the run mix, or use it to replace what I may be removing from the run for garden needs). In the rare event that my run couldn't handle the DLM from the coop, I'd add it to my other compost bins, but with DLM only getting a couple of cleanings annually, this usually isn't an issue.
Edited by 0wen - 4/28/16 at 6:58pm
I'm still working on a few things before I begin moving the girls in. Hopefully I'll finish this weekend if it doesn't rain too much. I'll post some pix on move-in day.
Thanks again, y'all!
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There are so many variables, I wouldn't even begin to offer advice unless I had more information.
Deep litter inside an enclosed coop?
What type of flooring?
How many birds?
How much ventilation?
Just add carbons (wood chips) to offset the nitrates from the chicken manure.
Want more compost? add additional nitrogen.
Very simple. If it starts to smell, get muddy, or flies, you need more carbons.
I started my outdoor deep litter with 12-18 inches of free wood chips.
Didn't do a thing for over 2 years, then just added more carbons.
There is a wealth of information on this subject from this list.
Grab a cup of coffee and use the search engine above