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Deep Litter Method The Easiest Way To Deal With Chicken Litter Dlm

Deep Litter Method is basically a method in which you allow your coop litter to build up over a period of time.
By Dawn419 · Jan 11, 2012 · Updated May 1, 2012 · ·
Rating:
4.88889/5,
  1. Dawn419
    Deep Litter Method

    DLM is basically a method in which you allow your coop litter to build up over a period of time. As the chicken manure and litter of choice compost, it helps to heat the coop, which in turn helps keep the chickens warmer. I had never heard of this before BYC and cleaning the coops once or twice a year, as opposed to weekly cleanings fits our lifestyle.

    I began using the DLM in early September '07, when we moved most of our Bantam flock from the Teacup Pterodactyl Townhouse into the main coop. I started out by adding 4 - 6 inches of pine shavings to the coop floor. After laying down the shavings, I used my sifter to sprinkle a fine layer of food grade DE over the litter, then stirred them together. I'm using the DE to help dry the pooh faster, which helps eliminate odor and reduces the fly population. The DE also helps protect the flock from mites/lice as they love to dust-bathe in the shavings/DE mix.

    Litter first added to coop in September.

    .jpg

    I added a "kick-board" to the doorway to help keep the litter in the coop. I just used a piece of scrap 1/4" plywood that we had handy. It's 10" tall.
    .jpg

    I stir the litter every few days, sometimes everyday, it just depends on how much time the gang spends inside and how much pooh there might be. The Banties do a great job helping me keep it stirred when they're dust-bathing in the litter, which helps cut down the work for me also.
    .jpg

    About once a month, I'll add a fresh layer of pine shavings and food grade DE. Again, this varies depending on how much time the birds spend inside. That's what I like about using the DLM. There are no set rules, you do this however it works best for you.

    Before adding new shavings...

    .jpg

    Layer of food grade DE on stirred liter...
    .jpg

    Layer of fresh pine shavings...
    .jpg

    At this point, I just let the flock stir in the new shavings and food grade DE. I don't measure how much of the shavings I add, I just add it until the old stuff is fully covered.
    As of today (11-20-07), I've been building the litter up for just over 2 months. There is no chicken smell in the coop what-so-ever, which really surprised visitors. It is approximately 6-8 inches deep at this time. I may do a clean-out in spring, but I may let it go longer...it will all depend on smell, how deep it is, are the shavings covering up the pophole door (just kidding)...

    I've had some dust issues, nothing major though. I just use a plant mister full of warm water and mist the shavings before stirring them up to help keep the dust down.
    I'm also using DLM in the Chick-N-Barn. I just added a few pieces of wood in the access door to help hold the litter inside. I won't be able to go very deep, about 6 inches, so I'll probably have to clean it twice a year. Only time will tell.

    Deep Litter Method Threads:
    Deep litter method...by ChrisnTiff
    Deep litter method ?...by domromer
    Deep litter method? Help Please...by Sunny Day
    Deep Litter Method, Please explain, ? from newbie...by sunnynparadise
    Can I use the deep litter method with Southeast Texas humidity?...by bionic_chicken
    Deep litter and linoleum floor?...by ebonykawai
    Getting mixed up...deep litter...by Sunny Day

    Thanks for stopping by! I hope more people will make a page showing how they use the DLM.

    Dawn & Skip
    updated: 4/12/08


    Coop & Run - Design, Construction & Maintenance Forum Section

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Recent User Reviews

  1. chikenfarmer
    "I know my wife will love this idea!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 17, 2018 at 7:04 PM
    We've been cleaning it out every week or so.. got a big bag of DE sitting in the Corner collecting dust. Glad I found this article . I will be sturring in the DE tomorrow!
  2. Anonymous
    "Fantastic information!!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 10, 2018
    I have never hear of this method before! Will be using, come winter!
  3. Smithyard Farm
    "Great article!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 7, 2018
    I have been doing this for years. Works well and I feel there is added benefit in winter months. I swear it keeps my coop warmer.

Comments

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  1. cwren
    Has anyone added fall leaves to the litter? I've seen chickens sifting through leaves and they seemed very happy.
  2. Henhouse1
    What is food grade DE?
  3. traceygirl07
    I have a coop made of pallet boards so my chickens use the the space where the boards are joined as extra roost. This means they frequently poop in this area too. Some falls in the litter floor but some stays on the walls of the coop. Aside from using a small rake and hoe to remove it I have not found a more successful alternative .DLM works for the floor of coop great. Any suggestions on how I can fix this problem. Only think I know is to cover interior walls with plywood and build additional roost.
    1. NanaKat
      You can staple gun cardboard or feed sacks on to your pallets and build a roost box. It will contain the concentration of nightly poop. Add pelleted lime and either wood shavings or leaves for the birds to scratch thru and mix the material inside the box. Remove the compost more frequently than the rest of your deep litter area as the box will build up quicker.
  4. Jesse Diaz
    new to raising chickens. would this work on on a wooden slat wood floor. My coop is off the ground about 2 feet. I am going to be moving them out to the coop in a few days. i have bought pine shavings. TS said to lay a trap down so i don;t lose shaving. would like to use this method. thank you for any help
  5. Itzlinda
    I am rather new to chickens. What I have done seems to be working great. I used Pine shavings and construction grade sand and some PDZ. I have had this down for about 2 months and there is no smell and is working well. Thanks for all the great info on this site:)
      decooper likes this.
    1. MROO
      Did you mix your shavings and sand or layer them in?
  6. MROO
    DON'T USE CEDAR! It's toxic to chickens!
  7. anunusualwoman
    is there something i can use instead of pine (or cedar) shavings? I have an allergic reaction to pine and a lesser extent to cedar.
    1. NanaKat
      Collect fall leaves and grass clippings that have not been sprayed with chemicals.
  8. MROO
    Question about Deep Litter Method (DLM) and diatomaceous earth (DE.) We use DLM in our coop - a converted playhouse/sandbox - and were warned against using DE because it kills the beneficial bugs and bacteria that break down the litter (and create heat in the winter.) Does anybody have a good "scoop" on the "poop?"
      Liz7 likes this.
    1. elaineinspain
      I've been using DLM successfully for over a year now and have never used DE with it (although I do use DE in the dust bathing patch out in the yard, and also in caring for my dog and cats and for myself) For the DLM to work correctly it must compost down, and, like you say, DE would kill the beneficial bugs who help with the composting process.
      Liz7 likes this.
    2. Liz7
      Which kind of floor do you use? I have heard that the floor in the coop and run must be normal earth floor. I'm about to built their forever coop and I really want to use this method correctly, so that it works. If it's not in contact with eath, then it might not compost, just dry at it's best. The method is called Korean something.
    3. Taliasun
      I've also heard that the DE can act as an inhaled irritant. Any respiratory problems?
  9. Robert G
    I really enjoyed reading this article, but the only DE I could find was at Tractor Supply. Is this what is needed to mix with the wood shavings? It says "Diatomaceous Earth Food Chemical Powder"
    1. Taliasun
      Amazon has food grade DE
  10. Liz Birdlover
    I've been using this method, but we've had so much rain this winter, and after 2 months of cold, below freezing weather, we had a few days of 60 degrees weather, weird. Anyway, it got a little stinky with ammonia smell, so I cleaned it all out, then put the stall dry Sweet PDZ on the swept, wood floor 1st, then added fresh wood chips. It did help a lot. About a month of freezing weather passed, then we got another warm, wet, rainy week, and I noticed it smelled a bit, and the litter was nasty, so I cleaned it all out again, repeated the PDZ and fresh wood chips. So while it is lasting longer with the PDZ, I don't think the deep little method is working so great, and I'm wondering why. The chickens scratch and move the litter quite a bit. If they didn't, I'd simply remove the poo clumps when I collect daily eggs, but every day it's mixed around. It usually is not this wet, usually not this rainy here...is that why it's not working as well? I also may have too many chickens in this small coop, but I'm definitely moving and prepping a 12x24 shed, currently storing unnecessary stuff, (the building itself is a very nice shed) when we get more cooperative weather. Shed moving and mud do not mix! Once I get it moved and set up, it will be their new coop with plenty of room for them. Any thoughts on dealing with rainy, humid weather?
    1. Lady of McCamley
      Rain is not an issue with DLM, at least not in my Oregon, but DLM works best with dirt contact. It needs the microbes from the soil to work best. When it gets too poo covered, add more bedding. If in a wpod floor, adding soil works.
      Liz7 and Liz Birdlover like this.
  11. ChickenyChickeny
    I'm trying to do this, the 'cover up the poop with new wood shavings', and my chickens scratch around and stir it up (sometimes they scratch and stir it up so much there is heaps in a corner and bare floor in another LOL), but I can't tell if it is decomposing and all that.
    1. Ketty Ash
      It's slowly composting and creating heat. Trust what nature does.
      Liz7 and ChickenyChickeny like this.
  12. ThatParrotLady
    Does this work with hay? I get more compacted mud and poop with Hay and the chickens but if there's a better method to not having to clean the coop all by myself every two weeks I am down for this.
    1. Ketty Ash
      I only use shavings because at the end of winter, it will go in my co post pile.
      hempsteadjb likes this.
  13. Featherbrain1986
    Can I use a little well seasoned compost to mix in to start the good bacteria going? Or is this completely unnecessary? Like a culture?
    1. Ketty Ash
      I don't think it's necessary.
  14. Ankhdad
    This is a great piece!
    I have been using this method for several years now and LOVE it. I have played with the mix from time to time. Currently using a hay, pine shavings, and..Stall Dry! Keep it mixed every few days just by walking in it. Gets changed every 4/5 months and the best part, no smell.
    Would highly recommend this method.
    1. Pawpaw&Mawmaw
      Hello! how's the moister in the coop during the winter?
    2. Ankhdad
      I live in NW Ontario where are winters are very cold (-30 C). My coop is 10'x15'. I keep the upper 4 vents open about 3-4 inches all winter and that seems to keep the moisture under control. I also use the Stall dry under their roost which makes for easy clean up.
      I also keep the mixture 'fluffed' up every week.
    3. ChickenyChickeny
      wait, is Stall Dry a thing you add to the bedding, or did you just mean it keeps the stall/coop dry?
  15. Pawpaw&Mawmaw
    I use pine for our chicken coop and pick up everyday. Yep, it's a little work, but I enjoy taking care of them. It has also become part of my personal time. Personal time with chickens, hee, hee! Question, moister causes frost bit on combs. How does the DLM fair in the winter as far as frost bit on combs?
  16. elaineinspain
    I would leave out the Diatomaceous Earth as it can kill the good critters (insects) in the Deep Litter and prevent successful decomposition and composting.
      Liz7 and hooktontravel like this.
    1. hooktontravel
      it can also be really bad for the birds' air sacs. i think it's only approved as an anti-caking additive for feed. I know lots of folks use it for bug prevention but it is very low effectiveness and high inhalation risk for humans AND the animals. really bad for your lungs!!
      Sudini and SpringDaleChickenLady like this.
  17. ChicChaser
    Thanks for sharing, love seen it mentioned but until reading this post I didn't understand.
      TheSavage1 likes this.
  18. SuperK
    Wonderful article! I was sure that letting the coop cleaning "go" for months at a time would mean horrendous smells and unsanitary conditions, but wow! We got hooked on this after JoAnn and I visited a farm down the road a piece that had 200 chickens in a Deep Litter coop that was a delight to be in. We have just started this method ourselves here in Hawaii and the high humidity here isn't defeating the wonderful benefits to this style of coop care. The smell of the chickens in the coop is markedly reduced (almost zero) and the lack of poo smell results in lower numbers of flies. Once we got the DLM in place in the coop, most of our chicken odor issues are now in the run due to the high rainfall mixing with the little dirt we have, and the chickens manure. This method requires the litter to stay dry to keep it's odor absorbing ability so monitoring water systems and keeping the rain out is very important. Due to an over active bout with Chicken Math, we are enlarging our coop and run area and will be enclosing the entire space with roofing so we can keep the run dry for a modified DLM system. We are going to be using a method called the Korean Natural Farming system. This method is a modified DLM in that we apply, use and encourage the beneficial natural bacterial flora that attack the fresh stinky manure and it's odor causing bits and convert them into a more inert form decreasing the smells in minutes. There are a few things to know before starting this method, but once started it is an easy way to be able to spend more time with the birds and less time cleaning.
    1. Karen Miely
      Sounds interesting. Where can I read about the Korean system?
  19. JDisme
    Best way to go! If you have a door that goes all the way to the floor, tack in a board about 10+ inches high in front of it. It keeps the mess in!
      Liz Birdlover likes this.
  20. ewaugaman
    What is DLM I read the article and I was wondering what the DLM was.
    1. 6PeckinChickens
      Deep Litter Method
  21. jrun808
    I love this idea, I will give this a try very soon.
    Joe
  22. OB OBrien
    I use construction grade sand from HD or Lowes. Then mix in some PDZ. That's the stuff horse people put in their horse stalls to soak up and eliminate any odors from urine or poop. It works very well in controlling odors. We clean the chicken droppings out from under the roosts about twice a week. Use a small child's play rake as a sifter. It works something like a kitty litter scoop. Only clean it all out about once a year. We just add PDZ every once in a while.
      Lucymae, MissNiss and JustRambling like this.
  23. Lesli Hodges
    Are you doing this inside of the henhouse where they lay the eggs or in the chicken run ? I have a small chicken coop about 4 1/2' x 8' long . Trying to figure out the best way to keep the chicken run smelling good clean healthy and most definitely the flies away .
  24. addyor
    what is DE ?
    1. PastaChickenBoo
      Diatomaceous Earth. It's a white powder that people say really helps keep away bugs, although some people don't like it. Personally, we use it in or around our coop, but the decision is yours.
      medicperkins and Egg-citable like this.
    2. Egg-citable
      Quick question. Where can you get the DE?
      Thanks
    3. PastaChickenBoo
      You can get it online or at tractor supply. Make sure it's food grade.
      hempsteadjb and Ketty Ash like this.
  25. cra-zchicknlady
    This method is a lifesaver during the winter months! I don't do it during the summer because of the heat it puts off. We do a thick layer of alfalfa hay, then pine shavings on top, and add more pine shavings as it becomes necessary. Then in the spring, onto the compost heap!
      Ketty Ash and flwrldy like this.
  26. Lady of McCamley
    Further...DE is not a good choice for the DLM method as it inhibits the microbes necessary for the good composting within DLM.
    LofMc
      elaineinspain and EclecticLadyy like this.
  27. Lady of McCamley
    @Linda V Just curious as to WHY anyone with chickens would use "food grade" DE instead of the Chicken Grade DE which not only has DE in it, but a certain amount of ash wood!
    Food grade DE is chosen because it is highly refined so that it is safe to use. I'm not sure what the "chicken grade" DE is that you refer to, but anyone buying DE should ask questions to be certain of the kind and quality of DE they are buying. Some products in the feed stores are food grade DE with additives, but make sure if it is really cheap that you are still getting a quality food grade DE.

    Non-food grade DE, such as pool type, contains high silica content and often heavy metals such as lead. Non-food grade DE can cause silicosis (a type of permanent lung damage from fibroid build up in the lungs) as well as lung cancer. Therefore, anything other than high quality food DE should never be used for animal or landscaping purposes.
    http://www.absorbentproductsltd.com/food-grade-diatomaceous-earth-vs-pool-grade.html
    http://www.healthline.com/health/silicosis#Symptoms4
  28. Linda V
    CONSTRUCTION SAND is a lot easier to find and buy than this "washed river sand" I keep hearing about. In fact, I've never found that any where! We buy 40 pound bags of "all purpose" sand at Home Depot and it's perfect for them! We would never use play sand, aquarium sand or any of the others as we don't want our girls to die. This sand thing is SERIOUS business....so if you can't get a 40# bag of "general purpose" sand at Lowes or HD, don't use anything unless you know what it is. Their lives depend on it. Btw...it's a rough mixture of different grades with small pieces of rock or grit in it....and the girls love sitting on it during the hot days and sand DOESN'T FREEZE in the winter either! How anyone can only use anything else is beyond us.
    1. Chickenrunlady
      do you put it in the coop also?
    2. Beyond Yonder
      Why would you say the sand would kill them. I use play sand under their perches and clean it every day like a kitty litter box.
    3. MissNiss
      I use sand in my coop, along with DE. So far so good, it's been 4 months since my girls moved in and they seem to like it. It does get dusty. What do you do with the poop? I've been throwing it into our municipal compost waste bin, but I think it's not really allowed and I'm hoping to get into composting.
  29. Linda V
    Just curious as to WHY anyone with chickens would use "food grade" DE instead of the Chicken Grade DE which not only has DE in it, but a certain amount of ash wood! I put some under their nests and then every day, I stir the wood shavings with the DE so the nest stays airy and fluffy....better to lay on, better to keep birds warm! We consume DE ourselves each day but it is human grade only of course. The Chicken-grade DE is inexpensive and comes in a handy, plastic, pour or sift screwed on lid and I keep it outside by the coop!
    I also put some on the special grade sand in the bottom (ground) level of their 2-story coop so when they dust bathe in it...the DE is going into their feathers! This way, when they groom themselves, they are consuming small amts too - which kills/prevents internal and external parasites! It's a win/win for everyone! My coop, which includes the nesting area, roosting area and the downstairs are is 100% free of bugs - especially ants!
    On a side note...I am beginning to wonder if my two hens are the ONLY HENS in the world who do NOT poop in the coop! We've had them 5 months now and they never used the bathroom in the lower area - but then they stopped about 5 weeks ago - from using the bathroom anywhere in the entire coop! Figure that one out!!
    I also put 2" of that special sand for chickens with the DE in it under their roosting perches to kill pests.
    Any one ever heard of hens who do not poop in their coop at all??? :)
      MissNiss likes this.
    1. Liz7
      I read an article about it that convinced me my 4 kilos DE are not really what i wanted for my garden, my pets o myself. Google and you'll find it. what concern me the most is the amount I already used and it landed in the compost. As much as I do not want pest to attack my pets, I do not want o harm beneficial and precious insects that live in my garden, not only the worms that work on my compost, but any kind of flying insect could also be affected. So, pesticides are not good either, but at least, with some of them, their effect is just for a while, meanwhile, DE never loses it's effect, some say once is wet it loses it's effectiveness, but we just do not know how much it cuts my good creatures in my garden. How will my compost will quickly turn into good earth if I kill those bugs too. It's a difficult decision. I bought DE and I will not buy it anymore. I will use it in emergency cases, but I'll always try to use something else first. I don't want to destroy the good together with the bad permanently, since DE will always remain sharp and cutting in one year or in 100 years.
  30. Yardwork
    I designed my coop with this method in mind. I made the coop larger than most allowing 20sqft per bird. I do keep rabbits in the same coop but they are in cages hanging above the floor area. I cover the floor with a couple hay bales and the chickens spread out the rabbit litter as they scratch mixing it all up and keeping the material turned. I don't always let the free range simply because they will tear up my garden in the spring. So having a larger coop and only having to clean it once a year is perfect. Living in Alabama there is little cold temperature issues. My coop is not closed but designed to block the wind off the birds and allow the winter sun in. This coop has been very easy to maintain.
  31. AlienChick
    DLM works great! I've been using it for 6 years now. I clean the coop once or twice a year (depending on how many chickens are housed). The key is to keep the litter DRY to avoid any odors. I use regular pine shavings from TSC and keep adding a bit more shavings as necessary throughout the year. Using DE will help keep it dry and you can also use Sweet PDZ Stall Dry. I put my waterers on pallets to keep the water away from the litter inside the coop. The chickens will keep things stirred up, but if there are areas that are getting compacted and moist, just grab a rake and do a quick stir. I can't imagine cleaning out a chicken coop every day or even every week - I have way too many other farm chores to take care of. So the DLM method fits very well into my farm lifestyle.
  32. rngrbill
    Love the DLM. Started using it in MA for my flock of 6 and now in KY with my flock of 8. I also use a poop board under the roost and this keeps most of the Poop out of the litter. I has 1" sides on it so holds quite a bit. Usually clean out 2 -3 times a year depending on condition.
  33. birdman55
    try using zeolite or pdz....it keeps the smells down and works great. tsc has it and most of your feed stores should carry it
  34. byfarmer
    I use the DLM for my goats and great, will have to try this year with the added food grade DE. Didn't realize it was safe to do this with the chickens. Thanks, you have saved me a whole lot of work.
  35. Stormimay
    What about sawdust? I have a free source for that I would love to use it for deep litter...is it safe? It is from non-treated wood.
  36. jackcooper
    nice I use it
  37. The Yakima Kid
    I use cheap landscaping soft wood chips (NOT bark mulch) in the run where it also slowly decomposes. I use a blend of pine and cedar shavings in the coop - cedar shavings are not a problem for chickens - talk to the poultry professors in the animal science department at Oregon State University where regional chicken farmers have used them without problems for decades.

    I'm not all that fond of DE because it can cause respiratory problems, so in my run I simply use agricultural or stall lime (the kind that doesn't burn), and sprinkle it over then rake the shavings to mix them up. I have gone more than a year without changing the run out. I tend to do the coop more often because the coop I have is essentially only large enough for roosting and laying.
      Liz Birdlover and Questor like this.
    1. Liz Birdlover
      I have coops with wooden floors, painted with a polyurethane so they don't get saturated. I've been using pine and cedar wood chips on the floor. I've been reading about the DLM and some add lactobacillus and PDZ, too...what do you think of those?
      Liz7 likes this.
  38. Lady of McCamley
    I find the pine shavings work a lot better where I live...but that is the wet NW so I have trouble with mold more than dust. The pine shavings keep the smell much better as well as compost a lot better and keep the mud under control much better. The straw sits on top and does not mix well and gets soggy leading to sour smell.
      Liz Birdlover likes this.
  39. Phoenixxx
    ... and I see I just repeated myself with half of what I just wrote! Lol, oops!
  40. Phoenixxx
    I use whatever I can rake up from the yard, such as leaves, grass clippings and moss. A month ago when the trees finished "leaving" and the moss was too wet to use in their nests I bought a bale of hay. Naturally, a good portion of that has since wound up on the floor. Every few days I rake everything back towards the back of the coop (under the roosts). Now, I have not "cleaned" my coop since september or october and so far, so good! The hay actually smells really nice and it doesn't contain any harmful oils/vapours like pine and cedar shavings do. Despite living in a damp environment (atlantic coast - literally!) moisture has not been an issue for me yet. I have 18 birds in a 6x8x8 wooden building with a dirt floor.
      joyandkids1 likes this.
  41. CoopersCoop
    I believe it may depend on where you live to which is better. We use only Straw. They year we used shavings our chickens had bronchitis problems from the dust. But yes, the alternative is that dampness causes upper respiratory problems too.
    If you plan on using the bedding for your garden compost straw is deffenitely better than pine shavings, coming from a master gardener. I didn't read everyones posts but I'm sure everyone has great ideas for this method :)
  42. fireflyhatchery
    This sounds like a great idea but I would like to know more about if pine shavings are better or not than other sources like hay or straw.
  43. Phoenixxx
    Interesting stuff... I have a dirt floor and use whatever the chickens scratch up around the yard for litter and nesting material (moss for nests, leaves and/or used nest moss for the floor under the roosts). I may try this once it gets much colder; it'll certainly be much easier to just toss in another layer in the winter rather than trying to shovel frozen poo!
  44. cluckcluckluke
    Great Article. Thanks!!!
  45. chickenlily13
  46. ttdavis86
    I have a wood floor on my elevated coop would this work fo me or just rot out the floor faster
  47. Gemoriah
    I came across this on youtube about Korean Natural Farming - Lacto Bacillus, this added to a deep litter method eliminated all smell from our coop.
      Liz7 likes this.
  48. CibolaChooks
    DLM has been amazing though. Its the only way to go if you can keep the rain and snow out of it. Duhhh Lady of McCamley answered The DE question for me.
  49. Lady of McCamley
    DLM method works great in our run area (I prefer to change the hen house regularly to keep clean boxes but dump it into the run).
    In order for DLM to work best, it needs to be in contact with the natural bacteria in the soil. DE can interfere with that bacteria and keep the DLM method from working its best. I like using pine shavings as they breakdown very nicely with the manure for compost with our clay soil.
  50. RoseMarie1
    I'm also using DLM and it's amazing how the poop disappears in the stuff. Totally amazing! LOVE IT! Although I do not use DE in mine because I want to keep the good bugs in mine.
      SpringDaleChickenLady likes this.

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