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.
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  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.

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    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.
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    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.
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    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...

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    Layer of food grade DE on stirred liter...
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    Layer of fresh pine shavings...
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    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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  1. 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.
      Questor, Chickenrunlady and stacyh40 like this.
    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.
  2. 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.
      Yukidongo, EclecticLadyy and Questor like this.
  3. 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.
      MissNiss and JustRambling like this.
  4. 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
  5. ChicChaser
    Thanks for sharing, love seen it mentioned but until reading this post I didn't understand.
      TheSavage1 likes this.
  6. 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
      EclecticLadyy likes this.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
      Questor likes this.
  9. itsbob
    I would assume DL method is similar to the gravel on the bottom of fishtank, or how a septic tank works.. In both you never 100% clean out or replace what's there. A fishtank you normally don't change out more than 30% of the water, or overclean the gravel as you get rid of all the good bacteria the tank worked long and hard on building.

    I would assume (i'm new to entire chicken thing), if using the DL method, you would do the same. Never replace more than a 1/3 to 2/3 of the litter that way there is always a good base of good bacteria already present and you aren't starting all over again. If you replace 100% you go back to zero beneficial bacteria, and your flock has to adjust, and their immunities will degrade.
      EclecticLadyy likes this.
  10. pumphousehill
    I've been using the deep layer method since last fall and it works great! The hens, and now baby chicks, are constantly stirring it themselves! I never have to do it for them. I have to hang my feeder higher and put a wooden box upside down under it for them to step up to the feeder, because they would fill it with straw and pine shavings as they are scratching for bugs. I also occasionally throw in some scratch (cracked corn and seeds) for them to find. Even if I don't they still stir it up, looking for bugs. My later is actually one shrink wrapped bundle of pine shavings and one small bale of alfalfa (there was no straw at the farm store that day) and it has nicely filled my coop floor with about 6 inches of layer. I assume I will have to add new material more often, once my 8 chicks are bigger. The wonderful part is that there is no smell. The only time it started to smell like urine was when the hens went broody. I highly recommend this method!
      EclecticLadyy likes this.

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