deep litter/deep mulch?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by 3goodeggs, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. 3goodeggs

    3goodeggs pays attention sporadically

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    We are rather new to chickens, because we are plant people. I got the chickens for the poo, but the eggs are nice. (I use my litter waste for my garden. I value it highly.) We collect oak leaves all spring to mulch the many gardens that we have. We have always more piles of leaves than time to spread them all.
    Last weekend hubby carted a wheelbarrow full of leaves into the run. One lucky girl pulled out a huge earth worm and they dove into that pile like it was ...full of earthworms.
    Anyway, each day he gives them a pile of leaves. It keeps them entertained if nothing else, and their run has a nice mulched look about it.
    Can I just give them all of my mulch pile and I'll use the new leaves for my garden? Can I try to get a deep mulch for their run? Is there any danger to a deep mulch run? ...as long as it is not always wet? Do any of you see any harm to this? It is a very large run (24x36)and we plan to make two more runs with the idea that once they remove the Bahaia grass rhizomes, insects, weed seeds, and fertilize it for me, then each year I can rotate my new garden to last years run. as long as I do not use any non organic pesticides, would that be safe for them? and then let them into the old garden to till it for me? would that work?
    am I asking for parasites? disease?

    Thanks so much!
     
  2. SimplyForties

    SimplyForties Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's great to use your chickens to till and fertilize your gardens. May as well make them work a bit! I've seen several plans that use a central coop surrounded by 2 or 4 sections, separated by fencing, which are seasonally rotated for this very purpose. The only issue I can think that you might run in to is letting your mulch materials build up too deeply in the run and then having a lot of rain and your run turning into an anerobic mess. If you can control that, you should be golden! Good luck! [​IMG]
     
  3. lavacaw

    lavacaw Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If memory serves correctly, you have a fairly sandy soil and standing water is not usually a problem...if this is correct then you can pile leaves into the runs like a deep litter method and just till them in to amend your soil. We lived in central Florida and heaped all the leaves we could get into our garden every year to build up the soil. The chicken poo and leaf breakdown they will do can only be a plus. I store bags of dry leaves to dump into my run after a rain to keep things dry and give the chickens new things to look for.
     
  4. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That sounds like a great idea if you have the space! My run is not near as big (12 by 12) but I use LOTS of wood chip mulch in there and give them fresh leaves every day starting now until next spring. They love to dig around in them! I'm not really sure what happens to the poo, but it just disappears. Next spring I will dig out most of the wood chip and replace it with fresh stuff, using the old stuff on my veggie garden. If you want to keep them really busy, throw some scratch over the leaves.
     
  5. 3goodeggs

    3goodeggs pays attention sporadically

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    Thanks! I was comfortable with the idea until I started reading about diseases and worms, and then I got iffy about it. I think busy birds are happy birds, and everyone needs a job.
    We ARE on sandy soil. The only dark soil is in the gardens-after decades of mulching, everything else is yellow sand. We drain very well.
    I will move forward with confidence now. Thank you for your replies!
     
  6. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I read where earthworms have a parasite called a nematode that can get in chickens. Bad news. I was going to do nightcrawlers in my run and let the birds eat the 'escapees', but have since changed idea to crickets for fear of parasite infestation.

    If you have sandy soil and your run slopes, mulch can be ok. They do love to scratch around in anything loose. I made a dust bath area for mine under a young oak tree about 10" dia trunk. I used fine sand, compost, dirt, and added 20# of diatomaceous earth bought at a swimming pool co store. It gets sun in fall,winter when sun is lower, but is in shade in hottest months. The chooks love it.
     
  7. 3goodeggs

    3goodeggs pays attention sporadically

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    They are not free range, we have way too many predatious birds...which is good I like birds, but they'd fisrt eat my chickens before a more difficult hunt like a squirrel or rat. I was told in entomology that if everything on the earth disappeared, that there would still be a faint outline of everything...in nematodes.
    I think they just wanted to scare us all into washing our hands more.

    Perhaps there is just no way around them. I will try to feed them a lot of pumkin and parsley and things. I would think that the diatomaaeous earth would help control nematodes as well as lice. That's a good idea.
    I suppose even parasites have parasites. To infinity...and beyond....
     

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