I started deep litter several years ago using the methods that everyone claims to have had success using. It' didn't work for me, it smelled clumped/matted was a ton of work and didn't look like I was doing my chickens a service by using it. I tried straw first and noticed that it made a thick mat of poo under the roost especially. It was hard to remove and didn't break down at all. I switched to sawdust and it was easier to work with but it still had a strong odor of ammonia after a week or two. I needed to rake it several times a week and it wasn't supposed to be like that. I have a 10 x 20 coop and at the time had about 200 chickens. I have a dump truck and would get my sawdust for free at a local saw mill. There are many sources of free sawdust almost everywhere. School wood shops, home depot, cabinet shops, woodworking shops, and many more. We changed the litter once a month like clockwork to keep the manure from overwhelming the coop. That's what the large broiler operations do and I don't like that system. I tried to add new litter once a week but that didn't work either. I saw claims that it needed to be moist like compost. I tried that too and it stunk worse. I began to wonder if any of the folks that were claiming this was great actually used it. One day in December my dump truck broke. I was forced to rake it daily for a few months. It smelled of ammonia, I installed an exhaust fan in the coop to make it safe for the chickens. I had piles under the roost and it didn't look good. I noticed that after a few months (it was winter) it was smelling less and there wasn't any poo buildup under the roost. The litter completely dried out turned gray and by March I didn't need to rake it at all. By June I noticed the litter had reduced from about 6 inches to about 3 inches of thickness. I added another 6 inches of new sawdust and mixed the old sawdust with the new. I was amazed that the new bright yellow sawdust was gray by the next day. The deeper the better. The hens pile it up against the coop door and it doesn't seem to rot the wood at all. The wood turned gray but isn't breaking down. I imagine it's because the litter is so dry. In september I took half of the litter out and hauled it to the garden to be placed on the garden after the first frost. The new sawdust was mixed in with the old and it worked flawlessly. During the winter it didn't stop working and stayed dry. I have not changed it in 14 months and counting. I am waiting this year until spring to remove half of it to see if I like that schedule better for the garden. My litter has a colony of self sustaining mealworms and beetles living in it. Mine came in feed but you can buy them and put them deep into the litter and cover it with a small piece of plywood or something to give them a chance at first. This is my recipe. 1. Use 8 inches of sawdust, hay, straw, leaves, pine shavings, and pine straw don't work nearly as well despite what everyone else says. This is not garden compost so don't treat it like garden compost. 2. Keep it dry. Only use it in a dry coop. Don't add any water ever and don't use it outside. It turns to stinky mud if it gets wet. 3. Turn it every day until it starts to work on it's own. You will go to the coop to turn it one day and it will dawn on you that it isn't necessary. 4. Start it in the warmer weather for faster results. It will work in colder weather once it matures but it takes longer to start in cold weather. 5. Never remove all of it. It's like sourdough starter, you need the mother. 6. Put the old litter in the garden. I have never had better planting medium. I had a tomato plant that grew an 11 inch leaf on this stuff. 7. Don't sanitize the coop, use chemicals or DE. You want to promote the growth of bacteria and other organisms to break down the manure. 8. Be patient and it will pay off. In the end you will have no coop litter maintenance except one day a year. It won't smell after it starts and it's always dry and loose.