Coop Bedding......Deep Litter or Sand???

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Cr8zy4Chicks, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. Cr8zy4Chicks

    Cr8zy4Chicks Just Hatched

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    My husband and I are just about to finish our coop and we are having a hard time deciding on doing the deep litter method or using sand for our coop. We are going to use the run as more of a "deep litter" compost run for the girls to help us get good compost for the garden. So with that said I was thinking using sand in the coop will be easier to clean and maintain. I would appreciate any feed back on the idea [​IMG]
     
  2. flyin-lowe

    flyin-lowe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Obviously it comes down to personal choice but here is what I did. I got 9 hens just over a year ago. I researched and decided I liked the idea of deep litter. My coop is 6'x8' inside. I started with full bag of pine shaving from a local store. One of the bags of compressed chips would put a full layer down about 2-3 inches deep. After that, every couple weeks after I mow my yard I rake up a trash bag of grass clippings and throw them in. Then 3-4 weeks later I'll throw in some leaves, or maybe some straw. I try to switch it up a little and the hens really love scratching through the new layer of stuff, looking for bugs. When I built my coop I had this in mind so my pop door, entry door and nest box doors are all about a foot off the floor so I can allow for the litter to build up. Last year I did this all summer until around October. I shoveled everything out and put the contents on top of my garden for the winter, then I started over in the coop. I used the same process for winter (minus the grass clippings) using leaves and straw. I let it go that way all winter and then yesterday I shoveled it all out again and spread it over my garden again before I tilled it.

    I have noticed that in this environment that the straw does not break completely down and compost but all the manure, leaves, and grass, break down into a good composting material.

    Obviously there is a slight smell in a coop that houses 9 chickens but there is never an overwhelming or strong smell of manure or ammonia. I have plenty of ventilation which is a must. I decided on this method because for me it was the cheapest and the easiest. I live a busy life and I knew that I didn't want to have a coop that I would have to pick up manure or clean out every day or every week. I do the same form my run, straw, leaves, and grass clippings. I don't try to save the "compost" in the run. I add the material and leave it until it gets down to what looks like mud then I add a new layer. I don't ever let them have a muddy run. After a year of doing it this way it is easy and I have see no ill affects. I also throw a hand full of scratch grains in once a week or so and the hens dig around helping turn the litter over.
     
  3. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We use deep bedding (pine flakes) in the coop, deep litter (straw, hay, grass clippings, leaves, pine needles & landscape debris).

    All can be composted.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Northwest Arkansas
    What does the coop look like, how big is it (square feet or meters), how many chickens, is it elevated or on the ground, what kind of floor does it have, what is your climate? If it is on the ground will it get wet when it rains (is it in a low spot or high)?

    In the true deep litter method in the coop you need to treat your coop floor like you would a compost pile. It needs to stay damp enough for the bugs and microbes that break it down into compost to live and reproduce but you don’t want it to get so wet it becomes anaerobic and turns slimy and stinky. If it comes in contact with wood it will probably rot the wood. It’s a great method used by a lot of people but it doesn’t work for everyone.

    The issue with any bedding, sand or anything else, is that it needs to be able to drain and stay dry. If you have the coop or run positioned where water runs to it and stays, you’ll have problems no matter what the bedding. What often happens with sand is that people dig a hole and fill it with sand. That’s like filling a bathtub with sand, the water has no place to drain to. For sand to work the bottom of the sand needs to be high enough that the water can drain somewhere.

    I don’t mean to sound like a smart aleck, but asking a question like this without providing some information is a lot like asking if you need to put on a jacket before you go outside when you know nothing about the weather forecast. The more information you can give use the better chance we can give you an answer that fits your situation. Otherwise all we could do is tell you what we did like Flyin-lowe and you have to decide if that even comes close to your situation.
     
  5. Cr8zy4Chicks

    Cr8zy4Chicks Just Hatched

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    Mar 10, 2017
    Central Florida
    [​IMG]

    The coop it's self is 4'x8' and the run is 8'x12' we have a total of 12 chickens, the coop is raised off the ground and I intend of putting some laminate on the floor to help with moisture. (The front wall is not yet attached but if u look at the floor of the coup you can get an idea of the size)

    No offense taken, I was just wanting to see what others prefer. I don't live in an HOA but I want to keep the smell down as much as possible. I don't mind cleaning everyday and that's why we were debating on trying the sand. If y'all are finding that the deep litter is not much more to maintain and the smell is tolerable then it's something we can do. My coop has door access on each side. There is an 6" lip along the bottom to allow plenty of bedding. One of my side doors does completely open so I can take all of the bedding out when I need too. This is our first time doing chickens and there are so many options so if this helps with anyone's suggestion I hope my provided info can better help your opinion. [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  6. Cr8zy4Chicks

    Cr8zy4Chicks Just Hatched

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    Mar 10, 2017
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    Oh and I live in central Florida so it's fairly hot and wet durning the summer and cooler and dryer in the winter. The coop has plenty of ventilation to help keep air flow during the summer
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    With 12 chickens in a coop that size you are going to have to manage the poop. It’s going to build up with that chicken density. I personally would not try deep litter in a raised coop with that chicken density. It should stay very dry, which will help a lot and gives you some options. Having that high a chicken density does take away from your flexibility though.

    I can’t see any roosts in there. One thought was to use a droppings board to catch the poop from overnight and get it out of there, but the logistics with that many chickens in a coop that size would be difficult. Thanks for the location, if you modify your profile to show that it helps with a lot of questions. In your climate the chickens should spend all day out in the run, about the only time they will be in the coop will be at night or when they are laying. I’d also suggest watering and feeding outside so they spend even less time pooping in the coop. Maybe feed under the coop section to keep the feed dry.

    I’d consider using your coop floor as your droppings board. The idea of a droppings boards is that they poop a lot at night and they are not moving around so it really builds up. If you can remove that build-up, you greatly reduce the poop load in the coop. There are lots of different ways to make a droppings board. I use plywood and scrape it. Putting linoleum down would make it a lot easier to scrape. Some people use sand, PDZ, or wood shavings, collecting the poop and changing bedding that out as necessary.

    How often you need to scrape or change it out will come from experience. When I have a small flock and the weather is pretty dry I may scrape mine once a month. With higher density and especially in wet weather I may need to scrape mine once a week. Some people scrape or use some type of scoop daily.

    It looks like your run is going to be at ground level, not in a low spot but not up high. Your ground looks like it might be clay but I’m not sure. Clay can hold water. If you can you might consider hauling in a couple of inches of clay to raise the level of your run up a bit. I did that in my coop and it really helps to keep the coop floor dry. Just like a compost pile, if your run gets too wet too long it can turn slimy and stinky. If you can keep it just a little bit drier you can really help yourself. If it is sand, it probably doesn’t matter.

    Good luck. Looks like you’ve done a really good job on that coop and run. Your chicken density is going to be a bit higher than I like which means you are going to have to work a bit harder on poop management than I like.

    Good luck!
     
  8. Cr8zy4Chicks

    Cr8zy4Chicks Just Hatched

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    Mar 10, 2017
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    Thanks for the feed back ridgerunner, our ground here is sand, and the entire run has a roof so it should stay dry with as much rain as we get.

    As far as the deep litter that was my concern with having so many girls. We r going to instal a PVC feeder and waterer (with the chicken nipples) under the coop for their main food and water access. It sounds like you said either a scrapping board or the pine shavings/sand might work better. The roost is gonna be one of the last things installed once we get the last wall attached. I have even seen people make "poop hammocks" which looked like that could be a possibility. I really appreciate your feed back on the subject [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     

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