Originally Posted by Sherrylynn59
Regarding your deep litter, I worry about the smell in my coop. My thinking - if they smell their droppings all the time, they'll get sick. I CAN smell the droppings in the morning, so I clean (just the droppings) out brooder boxes daily, and clean the area under their roost about twice/week. I see that the straw breaks down, and we simply put more straw on top. After about 6 wks, I take all the dirty stuff out to the garden and put fresh straw in. We have pine shavings, but I haven't used them on the floor yet. Just don't think about it. We don't have any dampness coming in, and ventilation is better when I have the ramp door to the pen opened (which I do in the morning). I have insulation in the roof rafters to keep the draft and wind out. I don't know if I need to open the coop up a little more? How do you know if you have enough ventilation? Should I take some of the insulation out of the rafters? It's not packed in tight, but does cut down on the air flow through the coop (to help keep it a little warmer).
I agree with Talkalittle...remove that insulation and let the fresh air flow. It's not the cold that causes problems but that moisture.
As for the deep litter, there are two kinds....deep bedding, that gets cleaned out occasionally like you do yours and there's deep litter, that is an ongoing, digesting type of litter that is never fully cleaned out but a portion is removed at times when it is fully composted and room is needed for the making of more. The first kind, deep bedding, is the kind that tends to stink and cause more ammonia smells, while the digesting/composting deep litter produces very little smell at all....you can pick it up and hold it right to your nose and you'll smell leaf mold/soil/humus smell. It never gets dirty, just turns to dirt, so it doesn't need removed to get rid of a smell.
With both kinds, the ventilation needs to be plentiful and adjustable, both down low and up high and, in the summer time, it helps if you have ventilation at all levels, if you want to avoid ammonia smells. Avoiding the use of pine shavings or straw will also help you avoid high ammonia smells...they don't absorb well and take a long while to break down unless they are very, very moist, so they aren't my first choice for coop bedding. When I stopped using pine shavings I started to see what composting litter was all about...how clean the coop smells all the time!
Here's what I do in the morning to droppings....take a small pitchfork and flip dry bedding from the front of the coop over the feces under the roosts at the back of the coop. That caps the moisture, any smell of feces and also removes the chance for flies to find the poop. Placing it under the dry bedding makes for dry footing for the birds, keeps the poop down in the middle of the digesting mass of litter where bugs and microbial life can start the digesting process. I don't stir that area, I don't encourage the chickens to scratch there and I just keep layering in the poop with dry material.
Slowly but surely that stuff sinks downward, reducing in mass, turning to soil....the chickens work the edges of that area now and again and, eventually, that soil gets worked to the front of the coop where I remove it.....
Goes in like this.....
Comes out like this....sweet smelling all the way through that whole process. It's all about the materials used, how and where you trap your moisture and how much good ventilation you have. I haven't seen a fly in my coop in 4 years now, nor does my coop even smell like a coop.