Originally Posted by zenhen165
Thanks everyone for your feedback! It seems I've struck a chord with the deep litter fans. Creating an ecosystem that rids your coop of that nasty smell and provides beautiful compost makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately our set up is not deep enough to allow the various layers required for deep litter. I've done a little more digging around in the forum on this topic and will most likely try replacing a few inches of the top layer with fresh sand and then try some PDZ to see if that works.
I am not sure what you mean by a deep enough set up. You aren't going to let this accumulate for years on end or make layers like in a compost pile. Prior to me losing my mind and switching to sand in my current coop, we did deep litter in 3 different coops and runs and none of them were deep. Our runs usually had 2 x 4's run along the bottom of our fencing and the litter never came close to top of the 2 x 4's.
We cleaned the coop and run out twice a year. All the litter from the coop went into the run. The chickens would then turn that into gorgeous compost. We would then rake the compost out of the run and then clean out the coop and put everything from the coop into the run and start the process over. During the six months the litter is in the coop, we would add a fresh layer of shavings every couple of weeks or so. It never piled up all that high and if it did get higher than we wanted, we would just take some out and throw it into the run. Remember, the chickens are constantly walking on and turning the litter for you. You don't see or smell the droppings. It is so easy this way.
Now when I walk into my coop each morning, I am greeted with disgusting piles of poop laying on the poop board and the smell hits you in the face immediately. The sweet PDZ gets full of bits and pieces that are too small for my scooper to pick up and it never looks clean ever. I have to scoop poop every single day because if I don't, I get poop mountains within 2 or 3 days. The same thing happens to the floor. I guess this method is ok if you only have 2 or 3 chickens or you enjoy scooping chicken poop each day. I have 14 chickens and do not prefer to scoop poop of any kind. Now instead of enjoying going out to the coop each morning feed the girls and gather eggs, I gag at the sight of all that poop, don a mask and gloves (the dust sand and sweet PDZ makes is incredible) and spend at least 10 minutes scooping poop. EVERY DAY!
I am building a new coop/run this summer and the foundation of my run will only be 1 cinder block or about 8" high. The deep liter will never get that high. I put the litter from the coop into the run in a pile and within a couple days you can't even tell it was ever there. The chickens are going to do all the work for you. In my experience, there aren't layers of different materials. I only ever put in what I had around my yard. Leaves if I had them, pine needles, scraps from the kitchen, the bedding from the coop and a bale or two of hay left over from the Halloween decorations. I live in the forest and we have no lawns so there are no grass clippings and not a lot of garden trimmings. I never layered anything at all.
I don't mean to preach here, but I think people are being mislead about sand and are thinking it is some miracle chicken bedding and it is not. I have had chickens for 15 years now in 4 different coops and in my opinion the sand option just has too many drawbacks and is way too labor intense. It also doesn't produce a useful product like the deep litter method does. I do hope you find a method that works well for you. I am sorry this is so long, but hate to see people struggling with a method that is never going to work well when there is a simple, natural method available that has stood the test of time and works in harmony with the humans, the chickens and the garden. Good luck to you!
Edited by Wise Woman - 5/23/16 at 5:40pm