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. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. jackcooper
    nice I use it

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