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Deep litter method

post #1 of 2246
Thread Starter 

We use the deep litter method in our chiken coop. It saves quite a bit of work and it is very clean and efficient. First off we Clean our coop out once a year. Usually in the spring so we can use the litter in the garden. We shovel all the litter out, wash down the walls with a weak bleach solution and also spray this solution on the floor lightly.
We let the coop air out all  day and in the evening add a 2 or 3 inch layer of wood shavings and paper shreddings. We
We have a droppings board underneath the roosts and we do clean this off every sunday whether it needs it or not. It always needs it. This fresh poo goes into the compost pile as it will burn plants if it is not rotted first.  This only takes about 10 minutes or so and is no problem at all. At this time we also stir up the litter in the bottom of the coop, this helps to keep poo from accumulating around the feeder and helps to dry it out. Some people just throw scratch or corn in the coop and the chickens will stir it up for you. We then add a thin layer of shavings, paper shreds or hay. We keep this up every week and we end up with a 12 inch or so layer in the bottom of the coop to clean out next year.
As long as you make sure the poo is drying out there wont be a problem. We never have any issues with smells or ammonia build up.
I'm gonna go down and snap some photo's of the inside of the coop in the a.m.  Stay tuned...


post #2 of 2246

Hello Chris,
I use the deep litter method also. I'm only into my 2nd year but i'm sold on this. My coop is 8x10 and I use wood shaving also. I actually clean my coop out one a year and do it in the late fall early winter. I add the litter to my compost bins and let them cook over the winter months with the other compost. This is great stuff to put in the garden. I'm starting to believe it's breaking up the clay and improving it. I am also one of the ones who throws a scratch on the floor and let the girls do the work for me, and they do a superb job. If you keep everything dry you don't have the ammonia problem and i've seen the girls getting down and dust bathing in the stuff. I use DE in the mix so when they dust bath they are really helping themselves out. This year I probaly cleaned out a 5-8 inch layer of shaving. I didn't do the bleach solution last year. I'm curious as to why you do this?

Norm in Vallejo, CA:D

post #3 of 2246

This is a GREAT article on deep litter and some important considerations:
Ammonia produced in poultry houses can degrade bird health and performance. When broilers and turkeys are raised on litter, amendments can be used to reduce ammonia levels in the house which could improve bird health and performance. (article continues and examines the different amendments)
extensvie LINKS page to articles on manure management

Edited by dlhunicorn - 1/15/07 at 1:47am
post #4 of 2246

Hi Norm,

The bleach solution is for sanitizing.  It can also be used for cleaning and sanitizing the incubators between hatches. 

1:10 solution....   1 cup of bleach to 10 cups of water.


post #5 of 2246

I plan on using the deep litter method also. I was curious though, how much is needed for 6 inches in a 6x8 foot floor?  I can get 5 cubic feet bags. Seems like I would need at least 3 or 4 of those. Am I right?

Also, in deep litter coops, do you mount feeders and waterers on walls? Or hang from above? I was thinking they would be unstable and messy on top of shavings.

post #6 of 2246

I'm not sure if I'm doing deep litter method.  For the most part, I believe I am.    I've always had a problem with the girls getting their waterer full of stuff.   I always try to put the feeder / waterer as high as possible while still allowing the girls to eat / drink.  See my auto waterer here:

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post #7 of 2246

Thanks Sandy for the reply, I just use an orange and peppermint oil spray instead of the bleach.

With the deep litter method you start out with just a couple of inches and add to the mix when you need fresh bedding. I normally end up with 8-10+ inches of almost composted bedding by seasons end (which I then add to my compost bins of yard and garden green stuff, to breakdown over the winter). I also toss DE into the shaving mix as i've seen the girls dust bathing in the dry mixture various times during the year. They have dry soil and sandy soil pits in thier run but they will still dust bathe in the dry shaving mixture in the coop???

The new shaving in the bag are really compressed so initially one bag ought to get you started and just have a bag around to add to the mix as your season goes along. Some folks change out their shaving more often, it seems for me that the once a year schedule is working. It is important also that you either mix in the poop and shaving with a rake or use a mix method and rake occasionally and use scratch on the floor to get the hens to do the work.  I hang my feeder from the rafters and I also have an auto-watering system out in the run. I have an 8x10 coop with 15 ladies in it currently.

Norm in N. CA

post #8 of 2246
Thread Starter 

Our coop is about 8x12 and I believe we start out with two paper bags of shavings and all the paper shreds we have. I also like to add hay or straw because it smells so nice. Really you can add almost anything you have on hand. In the fall we add shredded leaves as long as they are dry. In the summer when hay is plentiful you can usually get last years batch from the farmer for almost nothing. As long as it is dry and not moldy the chickens will love to pick through it. Good luck,


post #9 of 2246

Will letting the litter sit for so long wreak havoc on your floor? It seems to me it would rot out after a short time.

post #10 of 2246

No, this will not create havoc on your floor. It is important to keep the litter dry, and keep it stirred up either by raking or having your chickens do it.

Norm in N. CA

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