Deep Liter Method??


Dec 25, 2017
Hello, I have about 2 year old chickens and even the beginning of this winter is rough. I was seeing a lot about deep liter methods in chickens coops and was wondering what you guys think about it. Is it a good idea for chickens? And is it really hard to clean out when you eventually do. Just curious about opinions? P.S. Does anyone know about good Chicken water heaters? Mine all freeze and crack and i'm looking for a souloution. Thanks, :)!


Jan 17, 2017
Lots of litter in the run is great. I have a large run/yard. I put a couple of truckbed loads of fall leaves in every year. Other times too, but lots in the fall. It breaks down to nice compost. I usually take a couple wheel barrow loads out in the fall, before adding more leaves, and add it to the top of my garden beds for winter.


Spring has sprung!
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
Edgewood, KY
Same on leaves. Can use straw as warmer in winter if no leaves. I don’t use deep litter method. Too much to clean later, too gross during build up, and not generally healthy. Preventing ammonia build depends on one to remove soiled litter to keep ph, humidity, and ammonia levels down. I also think leaves room for pests to set in. My manure gets composted and sent to garden.


May 17, 2018
I'm in Massachusetts too and this is my first year with chickens FWIW. So far, deep litter has worked great for me in the coop. But my girls only sleep in there. I'm surprised how dry and odor free it is with just regular raking and occasionally adding bedding. I may regret it in the spring when I clean the whole thing out (!) but for now, it seems to be working as advertised.

If you have electricity to the coop, this one has been effective this winter, even with our temp dips:

But my girls don't love the horizontal nipple drinker aspect, so I also put out one of these most mornings (just kick out the ice and add fresh water):


Jan 17, 2017
I misread the original question and responded for the run area.
You can also do close to deep litter in a coup. I start with about 4 inches of corse pine shavings. Then add some more occasionally. I only clean the coup out twice a year. Just get a big shovel and toss it in the run. It stays dry, almost dusty. It doesn't get a strong odor either. Just stir it up every few weeks.


Jan 24, 2016
I'm not real familiar with your particular climate but I am assuming it is not too different then mine in the Hoosier state. Each fall I start with a fresh layer of pine chips from the store in the coop about 2-4 inches deep. Every few weeks I add a couple inches of straw, or yard clippings, or dried leaves etc. I do this every 204 weeks as I feel it is needed. The bottom layer starts to break down. I never have a problem with odors, I do have plenty of ventilation. I do this until March or so when I shovel it out and spread it over my garden. I then start the process over again. With a scoop shovel and a wheel barrow it only takes 10-15 minutes to shovel it all out and move it. I only do it twice a year and always have a nice supply of compost material for the garden.

As far as waterers go I recently bought one of the five gallon metal founts with the heated base. So far I am very pleased with it. I only have to fill it every 5-7 days. I have an outdoor heavy gauge extension cord from my barn and no problems at all. It is nice to only have to haul water out once a week and not worry about freezing. I also got on Amazon and bought a cheap plastic waterproof cover that goes over the cord/extension cord connection just to keep dust, water, etc. from getting on/in the connection.


Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
The term 'deep litter' is often misunderstood and misapplied.
I've always liked this explanation:

Managing a truly composting deep litter can be tricky, you have to understand what it contains(both materials and the organisms that break it down) and how it works in order to manage it effectively or it can turn into an unhealthy nightmare. It's not just piling up a bunch of stuff and, viola!

There are many ways to manage the manure your birds will deposit.
This is how I do it:
-I use poop boards under roosts with thin(<1/2") layer of sand/PDZ mix, sifted daily(takes 5-10mins) into bucket going to friends compost.
-Scrape big or wet poops off roost and ramps as needed.
-Pine shavings on coop floor, add some occasionally, totally changed out once or twice a year, old shavings added to run.
-Runs have semi-deep litter, never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
-Nests are bedded with straw, add some occasionally, change out if needed(broken egg).
There is no odor, unless a fresh cecal has been dropped and when I open the bucket to add more poop.
That's how I keep it 'clean', have not found any reason to clean 'deeper' in 5 years.

As to water heaters, I am unfamiliar with the commercial ones.
Will just say be careful with your power sources/connections, they can be deadly.
I made my own heated waterer... has to be topped off daily(~1/2-3/4 of a gallon), which is fine with me as I can keep an eye on it and monitor birds consumption.

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