Originally Posted by MinnesotaNice
This a great thread! I have straw in my coop now. I suppose it's about a few inches deep. The flooring in my coop is wood, but we laid a large rubber type mat in there (we were going to do sand initially and then left the mat when we changed our mind). I was thinking of cleaning it out before winter hits and then putting down a few inches of pine shavings, sprinkling some DE, and then a few inches of straw. Their outdoor coop is on the ground....so pretty much dirt now and a sad looking tree :-)
Any advice on what I mentioned above? My coop is is probably 12x15.
What you propose would be deep bedding but wouldn't be deep litter in the true sense. It will be something you'll have to clean out soon as it will become saturated with feces and will not decompose, so you'll have to keep adding and adding to keep the ammonia smell down and you'll soon get too deep.
Pine shavings and straw can take years to decompose unless you add about 125% nitrogen and even then it takes a long time, moisture, etc. The DE will kill the very bugs you may need to aid in the decomposition of the manure and bedding. I've heard folks tell of using the DE and there being a "dead" layer in their DL where they applied it, where nothing has decomposed.
It might be better to use some healthy soil from the forest or garden...just a little to get your DL some microorganisms going...then start using materials that break down well, as well as some that are a little more woody and break down slower(but use these sparingly and only to add air spaces to your DL). Using a variety of materials, of different types and sizes, seem to work best. Holding moisture in the bottom layers and not disturbing that layer much will also help...add moisture if you need to do so, but keep it a little moist there for good decomposition. Once you have that good bottom layer going, build it slowly as you need more dry material and try to let it get 6-10 in. deep. Just lightly flip the manure under the roosts into the bedding or just throw some dry litter on top of the night's deposits. The bugs that help digest the manure don't like being exposed to the chickens/light, so covering the feces will put it where it can be worked on and will also trap the moisture therein into the layers below.
Here's a vid that may help: