DE and the Deep Litter Method

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Queen of the Lilliputians, Jan 8, 2008.

  1. Queen of the Lilliputians

    Queen of the Lilliputians Songster

    Apr 5, 2007
    Ok.. so have a question here, and thought maybe you DE users could give me some input.

    Using the deep litter method, my understanding is that a certain (albeit small) amount of moisture is necessary for the decomposition of the litter. Otherwise, it heats up too much and causes 'firefang' (at least.. thats what it does on the compost pile [​IMG] ) I'm also thinking the process just won't work without the moisture (based on the fact that my coop was 'too clean' last summer LOL! and there was NO breakdown going on at the time)

    So using DE to keep everything dry and sanitary.. almost seems like it might keep it TOO DRY to do it's thing. Does that make sense? I haven't used it, so could be totally off base here, and feel free to correct me. Would really like to strike a balance between sweet smelling and terrifically useable. My father keeps telling me to get rid of the woodchips because they use too much nitrogen to breakdown, and won't be good for my garden. I don't completely buy that theory, since if that was true very few people would go the pine chip route.

    So to explain myself [​IMG] does DE keep the litter 'too dry' to do a terrific breakdown?

  2. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    My poultry barn is very large by most standards (six 25ftx25ftx12ft 1915 style commercial rooms in this barn). I use the deep liter method and keep DE spread liberally throughout. My barn has tongue in groove hardwood floors. I keep my barn bone dry. I don't want anything composting and eating through my floors. I added 4 bales of pine shavings last month - the first time since maybe August. My chickens had just scratched everything to near dust in certain parts of the inside. I was thinking I would have to clean my barns once per year. At the current rate and sustaining 47 (down sized alot over the fall) hens and a roo or two I don't forsee needing to clean it out for a much longer period of time. My poultry barn has no smell other than that of pine shavings, fresh air and feed. I like it that way very much.

    The coop where I raise the meat chickens had to be cleaned out every single week. No amount of DE or cleaning could eliminate the stench. Nothing seemed to stand up to the amount of poop and mess they made. Everything began to decompost after no less than a week. It was actually stomach turning and quite nasty. The cleanings from the coop will most likely be hot for a while and we are slowly adding them to the area where my garden will be this spring.

    If I have to choose one over the other I prefer the nice dry and very clean but dusty from all the pecking and scratching to the nasty wet decomposting mess.

    I don't think the dryness has as much to do with the DE as it does the size and depth of the shavings on the floor (8 - 12 inches). I turn the shavings over and mix them up about once a month now. I don't even use alot of DE. Just a small scoop about once a month (and maybe everyweek to every other week in the summer) to help control mites and bugs and such. When fly season is bad I dust a bit weekly and keep fly strips hanging from the ceiling.

    As my situation is different from most others with small coops I probably am not going to be of much help to you. Sorry.
  3. Dawn419

    Dawn419 Lost in the Woods

    Apr 16, 2007
    Evening Shade, AR
    Hi Meghan!

    I started to reply to this sooner but wanted to do more thinking before I ran-off at the mouth. LOL

    I'm using the DLM in our two small coops, using pine shavings and food grade DE. The coops floors are wood, one coop has linoleum over the wood, the other is just a plywood floor.

    I've noticed that the litter in both coops is dry and dusty, no evidence of any composting going on, that I can tell. If I was using the ground as the floor instead, I'm sure I would get completely different results (as in actual composting). I don't believe that the DE is keeping things too dry to break down.

    Hope this is some help!

  4. Mommyof2

    Mommyof2 Hatching

    Nov 25, 2007
    Hey I use cedar shavings and I swear by Spdz. It is totally safe to the chickens. I prefer it over DE.
  5. Cheryl

    Cheryl Songster

    Don't use cedar it is dangerous to the chickens!!!
  6. Cheryl

    Cheryl Songster

  7. I use leaves over dirt for my dry litter; one half of the chunnel is protected from the weather and stays dry; the other half is exposed to the elements, and thus gets wet.

    The dry side is VERY dusty but otherwise looks good. The leaves on the dry side hold up for a MUCH longer period of time.

    The "wet" side is not dusty, and I have had to add new leaves at least twice. The gumbo clay soil under this area of the chunnel is getting to be loose and friable, and is a favorite area for the birds to hang out. I have seen them scratch up worms on several occasions; there are no worms on the dry side.

    When it rains, the leaves seem to act as a sponge; the area gets wet, but does not have standing water, and doesn't seem to stay waterlogged. A couple of days after the rain stops, the leaves are barely damp, probably due to the activity of the chickens.

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