DE after composting?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by LizFM, Dec 15, 2009.

  1. LizFM

    LizFM Songster

    Dec 15, 2009
    Hello everyone,
    I am still in the planning/dreaming stages (and may be forever [​IMG] ) but I am trying to learn what I will need to know. I had chickens years ago and would like to prevent some of the things I didn't like back then (messy coops/runs) from happening again.

    I am learning about the deep litter method, and the use of food grade DE for drying out and keeping unwanted bugs down.

    But I have a question. I don't know if/how DE 'breaks down' in the environment. If I used litter with DE in it in the compost heap, and then in the garden, would the DE still be viable enough to hurt earthworms and beneficial bugs?



  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    DE does not break down (it's silicon dioxide, pretty nonreactive); it is more or less permanent. OTOH it does get diluted, so to speak, in the compost pile and when used.

    I do not think anyone has ever come up with a reference to a study actually looking at residual effects of DE in compost or when mixed into garden soil. There is a little bit (a *little* bit) of DE in the shavings I occasionally clean out and compost with droppings-board poo; I have put the resulting finished compost on my veg garden with no apparent deleterious effect on earthworms, if that helps any.

    Probably the smart thing, in the absence of information, is to try to minimize the amount of DE that goes into the compost pile (and for other reasons, just plain minimize the amount you *use*, IMHO)... but I do not think there is good reason to believe that small amounts will poison the soil or anything like that. Note that using deep litter, in whatever method you choose, does *not* necessarily require or imply using DE. They are somewhat two independant topics.


  3. gsim

    gsim Songster

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    You might consider having a dust bath using de, sand, dirt, compost mixed. That way your chooks can get some DE on themselves regularly and may head off infestation of mites, etc. I had a 12 x 24 x 4 box of that in coop and am going to redo it. The chooks can use it on rainy days and mine never pooped in their litter box either. People have done 10% sevin dust on floors before adding new litter and had no problems, but I never have tried it. I am adding food grade DE to my floor litter next year before warm weather comes. [​IMG]

    (When I built our home, I added 10% sevin dust to all floors wherever cabinets or vanities were being installed, and also all around perimeters of each room where baseboard would be installed. I have not ever seen a bug in our house exc for an occasional spider that sneaks in or a few sugar ants. It stays active and kills bugs for many years.) [​IMG]

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