Are pine shavings adding too much wetness to coop environment?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by deacons, Dec 5, 2013.

  1. deacons

    deacons Songster

    Oct 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    I need some advice. I have a roughly 4X6 coop made of thick wooden boards sitting directly on the ground (dirt floor base). About a week ago, I added a very deep layer of pine shavings- I won't call it "deep litter method" because I know there is a real science to that, and I'm not an expert in that approach. But, when the weather dipped to single degrees, I started to worry the plain dirt floor was not insulated enough (I don't heat the coop). The dirt was actually still light and fluffy, not frozen like the dirt out in my run- but the poop was frozen on the ground in the mornings.

    So because I'm a worry wart, I went ahead added these shavings over the top of dirt/peat moss*, and I'm now having second thoughts. I'm not sure if the shavings are going to add too much wetness and humidity to the coop (today is rainy, but snowy days are coming any day now), and will thus put my girls at risk of frostbite. I think ventilation is adequate, but today I was noticing the layer of shavings is no longer easily "fluffed," and it's already starting to look a little tired.

    We are supposed to have a relatively warm and sunny weekend, so that might be my last real opportunity to strip out all the shavings and go back to a clean dirt floor for the rest of the winter.

    Any advice? What would you do?

    *I know many people dislike peat moss as floor material- I have had really good luck with it, no excess dust/respiratory problems, and a real cinch to clean out. I have also tried sand, but had lot of problems with clumping and freezing, so probably wouldn't go in that direction.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2013
  2. BrickWall Honey

    BrickWall Honey Chirping

    Oct 24, 2013
    Accomac, Va.
    If the dirt floor was relatively dry and your new shavings are dry I would not worry about removing them. Look for moisture accumulation on the walls/windows/ceiling if you a lot of condensation then it's too damp. Does not take long for shavings to flatten so nothing at issue there.
  3. deacons

    deacons Songster

    Oct 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    There's definitely no condensation to be seen on the walls or anything.

    Before I put the shavings down, I would be sure to pick the coop floor clean of poop every morning, and I think one thing I'm not really liking about the bedding is that I can't do that. I've been stirring it up/turning it every day, but still, I just don't know. It's not really wet, but it does seem, I don't know, a little "clumpy." And it's only been in there a week or so. I am not sure what it will look like after a whole winter.

    What do others think - do pine shavings work for you all winter long? Anyone have any pics of the floor after a few weeks?
  4. Wood is a superb insulator so that would explain why the poop freezes on top - due to the air temp in the coop.
    It will absorb moisture gradually from the atmosphere and any direct soil contact may increase that
    I would suggest a barrier between it an the soil e.g. landscape fabric it will help to keep the shavings clean. but beyond that there is not much science to the deep litter method just lob in what you have dry leaves wood ash from the fire garden shreddings chopped straw etc. the deeper the better.
    Poo pick the surface regularly but the whole idea is to let the chickens do the work of stirring it up.

    If it starts to smell excessively then it is either not deep enough or is getting too wet if the latter you may have to think again.
    I always use poop trays though as that does drastically reduce the amount of mess the litter has to cope with.

    Then once or twice a year you have some superb material for the garden.
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Free Ranging Premium Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    As long as there is no moisture getting inside your coop underneath from runoff, I think the dirt floor with pine shavings is ideal. If you put landscape fabric down, the chickens will shred it by scratching way down, then they may eat small parts of it. I have a dirt floor, and yes they scratch through it and get the new shavings dirty, 5 minutes after I put it in. I take a tiny rake once a day and rake the fresh dropings under, then fluff it up. The chickens will also scratch it up if you throw in a bit of cracked corn or scratch grains. Once a week I add some fresh shavings on top, and all stays dry.
  6. That's true although I have some really heavy duty stuff in one of my coops the litter is very deep and so far the birdies have not got down to it yet
    If I gather it up by the corners I can get everything out in one easy go if I have to

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