Deep litter coop cleanout and flies question


9 Years
Mar 6, 2010
Where I live.
We started using deep litter method with pine shavings last October. Have 16 chickens, down from 18. Were planning on doing a big cleanout this weekend, but I checked "Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens", and Gail Damerow mentions that when you clean out the litter in warm months, you also clean out the fly predators, and your fly problem will get worse. Right now, the flies are a moderate nuisance, but I don't want them to get worse. I've been reading that many of you do very regular cleanouts, at least weekly. But I know that is not going to happen or we wouldn't have chickens. So, of those of you that use deep litter, what are your thoughts? Should we do a big cleanup now, or possibly a partial cleanup of the roost itself and underneath it? Let it all go till the fall? The smell is not lovely, but not horrible either. We have lost 2 hens in the past 4 months, but I do not believe it was due to disease, and the flock seems otherwise healthy. They are all Australorps.

Thanks for any input.
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11 Years
May 14, 2008
NE Wisconsin
I use the deep litter method, and I clean out the coop in the spring and in the late fall. Last year I used a fly trap in the coop and it worked pretty well, but was disgusting to clean. Now I use this trap/bait thingy that keeps flies from getting into the coop at all. I don't know how it works exactly, but since I put it in the coop, I haven't noticed a single fly. I can't remember what it's called! If I remember I'll add it to this post.

Found it! Here's a link.
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11 Years
Jul 23, 2008
Chapel Hill, NC
Just a thought, but...

Have you tried just adding DE (diatomaceous earth) or Stall-Dri to your shavings and just stirring it up rather than cleaning out the shavings? We've got a 7'x8' coop that's home to 8 chickens who free range during the day, so granted, they're not pooping up a storm in the coop. But they do poop plenty at night. We just stir the shavings with a long cultivator and put a bit of food grade DE in with the shavings every couple of months. We've hardly got any flies (wish I could say the same about mosquitoes
) The DE may be helping to reduce the fly population. I've read that it does, but also that it doesn't. But something is working for us. The coop has smelled a bit (really just a tiny bit) funky on only one or two days when it's been really rainy and the humidity in the coop has been very high. I just stirred up the shavings really well and that was it. The smell was gone. I usually stir up the shavings about twice a week. My husband likes to muck around the coop more than I do, so when he's home, he'll stir them up daily. (It's really not necessary, but he belongs to the "more helps more" camp.)

I don't imagine we'll exchange our shavings for at least another 18 months. If our chickens were in the coop all the time and it never had time to dry out, I might be singing a different tune, but in our case, it's just not necessary to exchange the shavings. In fact, I think I remember reading in Storey's that you can go years without exchanging the bedding and not have fly or ammonia problems as long as the bedding is properly managed.

BTW, I've got Australorps too - and I love them.

Good luck!

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