Deep Litter Options for My Winter Scenario?

  • Stay the course and add more straw more often.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Stay the course but add more than just straw.

    Votes: 1 100.0%
  • Ditch deep litter for the Winter and just replace bedding more often.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


Mar 8, 2018
So I'm a first year poultry owner (in central Maine), although I have experience working with chickens and ducks on farms in the PNW. I've been trained on the deep litter method in the past, and as soon as I started raising my girls this year I went with it. It is now Winter (early and ugly, even by Maine standards), and I have having some serious doubts about continuing with deep litter.

Full disclaimer: My ducks and chickens (7 & 42, respectively) share the same house (10x10x7 sloping down to 5)... It's not as big as I would have liked or planned for, but the local zoning officer turned real problematic about the dimensions & placement of my coop when the town passed an ordinance banning people from keeping chickens within town limits. Although they grandfathered me without making me pay the extra permit fees, they wouldn't let me build the larger coop I designed and I'm moving back to the PNW in the Spring. So please don't think I'm planning on keeping my girls in that space permanently. I got caught by shifting winds and I'm just seeing my girls through the Winter and then moving them along to better pastures, haha.

So now that you're all free to judge me for being less than perfectly prepared, what I'm hoping for is some constructive feedback on using deep litter with mixed flocks in the same house. Specifically:
*I've noticed the ducks generate a LOT more moisture on the floor than chicken-only coops,
*Using deep litter in Zone 4 areas during the Winter vs cleaning it out more often to stay dry,
*The merits of mixing or using more than just straw or hay as bedding in the deep litter

Any additional insights would be appreciated... I've already upped my budget for compressed straw to account for replacing bedding more often than originally planned, and I'm looking for some more experienced feedback on whether to maintain deep litter with more frequent bedding, maintain it with more than just straw/hay, or to dump it and replace their bedding every 3-5 days period.

Thanks! :)
PS- Included are a few pics giving you an idea what I'm working with.


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Visiting The Summer Fair
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Jul 16, 2015
I'm in zone 4. Deep litter is inactive in winter and smelly come summer. We do it in the goat part of my shed. The rest we clean as necessary but not as often in winter. Frozen is your friend, so is decent ventilation.

We use a mix of shavings and hay. The ground around the waters need more maintenance due to our muscovy ducks. We usually move the water around and put down hay on the wet areas.

You could continue to pile stuff on top of stuff until spring than clean it out, or do some cleaning during the winter. There's no good right way. You will need to figure out what works best for you.


Mar 8, 2018
The ground around the waters need more maintenance due to our muscovy ducks. We usually move the water around and put down hay on the wet areas.

Thanks for reassuring me on that. I've noticed the moisture issue and been rotating water locations. I've also been thinking of just removing water at night since it's frequently freezing and just seems to increase the damp thanks to the ducks playing in it haha.


Oct 20, 2017
I live in Kentucky, have been using Depp Litter for past 2 years. I have 11 hens no ducks in a 8x30 enclosure made up of a coup 8x8 and a run of 8x22. The entire enclosure has a depth of approximately 11 to 12 inches of decomposed wood chips, grass clippings, garden debris, leaves, small twigs, etc. works great for me when I notice any Amonia smell I add leaves which I bag each year and store, or any other Carbon source to eliminate the smell.
I would advise you to use less straw and more things like aged wood chips and leaves. Straw holds a lot more water at the surface than the wood chips and leaves will. Try to think like this and match the forest floor with materials that nature provides, being that is where most Fowl came from. Hope this is helpfull


All will be well, and that will be well is well.
Aug 3, 2018
Black Hills, South Dakota, USA
I’m using deep bedding with my chickens. You need a mix of various materials and preferably a dirt floor. It’ll compost better, I’m told. I don’t have a dirt floor and it’s not composting, but as long as I keep it stirred up under the roosts and add a bit of waste hay, etc., once in a while, it stays nice. It IS cold, though.

I don’t have ducks, but my research suggests you may benefit from making a platform for their water. Get a shallow pan... the square/rectangle ones at Running’s are nice, or you can scavenge something. Over this pan, you must place a nice, robust screen. To make this, set four 2x4 or 1x4 pieces on end and nail/screw them together into the form of a square. Cut hardware cloth (fine enough mesh so no-one’s feet get trapped) and staple it to the top edges of the frame you’ve just built. Push bedding up against the pan (this is your “catchment basin” for the water the ducks will spill). Place the hardware cloth screen over the basin (screen side up). Put your water container on the new platform, in the middle of the screen. This arrangement will (I’m told) minimize the water spillage. You just empty out the pan as needed.

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