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Are These Good Materials for the Deep Litter Method?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by swampducks, Jun 8, 2008.

  1. swampducks

    swampducks Overrun With Guineas

    Feb 29, 2008
    Barton City, MI
    I explained to DH the DLM idea of the new coop he was going to build for me, then I went to visit my family for a week. Apparently he took my desire for DLM to heart and dug the floor down to a foot below grade, laid wire mesh and put oak boards on top. So it seems I have a really big hole to fill or else I will need a ramp up for the chickens to get outside.

    [​IMG]

    I did a search but only found pieces of the info I was looking for. So, for all you smart chicken people here, how should I fill up this hole? ( I know I can add stuff as the year goes on, but I've got to start with something to increase the base.)

    I was thinking for a base, about 4 inches of sand, that will get me back up to 8 inches below grade and provide good drainage for any excess water spillage.

    then a mixture of shredded/chopped:

    straw
    dried oak leaves
    dried maple leaves
    grass clippings (green or dried?)
    semi-dried tag alder (speckled alder) branches

    Good ideas? Bad? I own a small chipper/shredder so I can do all this, it will just take time.

    I mention the alder because it grows like weeds around here (I live in a swamp) and has to be pruned away from the trails regularly. It's a wet wood but we'd chop it down and let it age a few weeks first. If it's not a good idea though I could use maple tree branches.

    Whatever I do, I think the chickens are still going to need a ramp. [​IMG]
     
  2. Eliz

    Eliz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 16, 2008
    Hey at least your DH is helping! As for your DLM I don't know what to tell you because I am new to all this ,but I will be following this one. I have tons of live oaks in my yard and would love to be able to use the leaves in the coop [​IMG]
     
  3. CUDA

    CUDA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 4, 2008
    Michigan
    There are tons of things you can use, just try to stay away from things that will get moldy, and things like dyed bark, or cedar shavings and you will be fine.
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I hope that this is in a VERY well-drained site, and you will have gutters and downspouts on the roof? Otherwise it seems to me that you are creating an indoor swamp [​IMG]

    Even if you're building atop a gravel pile or on very sandy soil, I am really not sure at all what the best thing would be to do. I hate to say that, because it is obvious that quite a lot of work and expense went into constructing it that way, but honestly, it just looks like trouble to me.

    If it were me I would probably remove the oak boards, as being a waste of good and expensive lumber, and use them for something else, then just backfill the hole with your sandy or gravelly soil to grade level or almost grade level. And bed on top of that.

    I suppose you could remove the boards and backfill just a few inches with soil, but it increases the chances of 'swamp' problems.

    If you leave the boards in, they will not be doing anything useful except very slowly rotting.

    If you're going to take your chances with the swimming-pool effect and want to leave the oak boards in, it really does not matter what you use for bedding, any reasonable bedding would do (I'd stay away from more mold-prone things). Because there is no direct ground contact on account of the boards, you will not get the decomposition-related benefits of deep litter unless you shovel some dirt in and mix it in with the litter. You may be better off just settling for the labor-saving aspects of deep litter, though, and skip trying to get it to compost.

    Good luck,

    Pat
     
  5. swampducks

    swampducks Overrun With Guineas

    Feb 29, 2008
    Barton City, MI
    Quote:Yeah, I was wondering about that and have yet to broach that to DH, I don't want to make him think I dislike what he's done, men can get upset easily if you suggest their project isn't "quite right". Fortunately, it sits on top of a sandy hill and there is little chance of flooding (it's pouring now, I could go check! [​IMG] ) as the slope happens very quickly.

    He isn't installing gutters, etc. I am considering adding sand under the boards. Apparently, he is concerned that when I go to dig out the old litter I might pierce the hardware cloth with a shovel. He feels he is saving me from myself I guess. He did say I don't have to keep the boards although he claims they will last 15 years as it will stay "very dry" in there.

    Still, he should know what he's doing as we dug a foundation for a room addition we did many years ago and it never flooded and was approved by the county inspectors.

    I am happy it's on top of a hill though and not at the bottom.
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Don't forget your umbrella [​IMG] Seriously, it would be a real good thing to check before you proceed.

    I am considering adding sand under the boards. Apparently, he is concerned that when I go to dig out the old litter I might pierce the hardware cloth with a shovel. He feels he is saving me from myself I guess. He did say I don't have to keep the boards although he claims they will last 15 years as it will stay "very dry" in there.

    Well, it depends what you want out of the deep litter method. The thing is, if you're not on soil and/or if the litter stays 'very dry' then you are not going to get composting, which is a large part of the traditional type deep litter method. You will basically just be doing the version that has no particular benefits other than labor-saving (and giving the chickens a good depth of litter to snuggle down in come wintertime if they need to). Nothing WRONG with that, but if that's what you're doing, it's not really The Deep Litter Method per se and there are not really many details that will matter.

    Good luck,

    Pat​
     
  7. Dilly

    Dilly Cooped Up

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    Apr 15, 2008
    I know you are stuck in a hard place. He did such a good job, but it in my opinion will not work well for you.

    Thank him, apologize for not being more specific, you know mend the blow of asking him to help you remove the boards and fill that hole.

    I agree with Pat about this being a potenital swamp.

    Otherwise you have a wonderful Hubby to be so helpful and supportive.

    Dilly
     
  8. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Looks like a good idea in concept, but, a deep floor like that says flood. But this is coming from someone in the PNW where there is a constant drizzle. If it was up here, my guess is that if the wood is under the litter and there's an idea that excess water will go to the bottom, those boards, even if treated, won't be lasting too long. Chickens leave lots of poo, and poo compacts down when it gets damp. I'd be afraid that as soon as it got damp, if it was raining all the time, there might be no drying out of the litter by stirring so the floor would be wet from the inside and out unlike a basement.

    Best of luck. I just have dirt floored housing tractors so don't have any real expereince with floors.
     
  9. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    I think the materials you have listed will work well for the DLM. I use leaves and pine shavings and all sorts of stuff and I haven't had a problem yet. I also use DE to keep down the smell and to keep any bugs away.
     
  10. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Colorado
    Wow - your hubby is wonderful, he's working so hard for you and your chickens. Give him an extra [​IMG] and then, if it were me, I'd ask him to take out the boards and fill it back in to make it almost level. Then, he could put the boards back down as a floor. My whole concern is the same as everyone else's ... water.

    I use the DLM but not for composting since I have a wood floor (with linoleum over it to help keep cleaning simple). My chicken house doesn't smell and it was so easy to clean out that one day a year when I did it.

    We put the bottom of our pophole almost 16" high from the floor. I have standard breeds and they had no problem jumping up to that to get outside. There is a ramp on the outside for them to get back inside. I don't know if that will be too high for my new Silkies that are still in the brooder. By the end of this last winter the bedding (I use pine shavings) was up to within a couple of inches of the bottom of the pophole. It was actually very easy to scoop out the clean out door (which was buried by that time) when I cleaned it all out two weeks ago.
     

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