Deep litter method bedding

jkh2023

In the Brooder
Jul 22, 2016
4
10
39
New Jersey
I am brand new to owning chickens and have planned to use the deep litter method. I originally wanted to use American hemp bedding however after finding out the cost for 2 bags delivered is 99$ I'm looking for another alternative. . Has anyone used American hemp and can say how far 1 bag goes? Or are there better options out there? I have a flock of 10 and a decent size coop that's 4x6.
 

SnowKnitty

Chirping
Jan 20, 2017
36
44
79
South Jordan, Utah
One bale (33 lbs.) will cover your 4' x 6' coop about 3 inches deep. But a true comparison requires more than just the cost v coverage. I've done a LOT of research on hemp bedding for poultry, specifically for use with the deep litter method in the coop. I'm sharing what I learned here in case it is helpful. I recognize everyone develops a fondness
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for their favorite materials. So use what works best in your area and situation.
Technically, the deep litter method calls for starting with at least 4" so you'd use about 1 1/3 bales to start. (This is to ensure the poop moisture never reaches the bottom of the coop since that would smell and put off ammonia.) As the poop accumulates in specific areas such as under the roost, you can remove the excess poop, fork/rake it into the litter, or rake if off to the sides/corners (unless your coop has metal sides in which case the wet poop will rust it). Even with 10 chickens, this should last you quite a while. However, the general consensus I found in my research is that it is best to add some fresh litter periodically, sprinkling it lightly in the same places where the poop tends to accumulate. Even if you see a lot of poop, the litter is still good if it is dry and there is no smell. Coops using deep litter with hemp can go without cleaning for a far longer time than with other common litter materials. This is simply because it is more absorbent. What's nice is that this product is now very low dust too. ( I don't think that was the case when it was first introduced.) So, spreading additional bedding and cleaning the coop doesn't require a hazmat suit like straw or wood shavings. (I am drawn to that characteristic like a magnet!)
There is also a lot of research and observation that points to a lessening of coccidiosis outbreaks when using the deep litter method. (There are at least 11 strains of this nasty coccidia, a protozoan parasite. So your chickens can get "it" again and again. But there are microorganisms that think coccidia are yummy and they make a home in the litter. That's why some recommend you do not clean out a deep litter system completely. Rather they recommend you remove no more than half its volume at a time and replenish by mixing new material with the old.
Last, I don't have a distributor in my state that supplies hemp bales. Since I had a couple of coops and a brooder to switch over, I ordered in volume to get the shipping costs down. Perhaps you can pool your order with your BYC neighbors to do the same. Sources for hemp by the bale include Hemp Solutions and American Hemp. (Due to BYC rules on posts, I cannot provide a link. But if you Google each of those names, their sites will be the first in the listing, excepting any potential Google ads). The bales cost pretty much the same. It's cheapest if you can pick it up yourself. If not, the distance between you and the distributor can vary the shipping costs. So shop the shipping prices before ordering!!!
 
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Molpet

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 7, 2015
11,344
45,732
1,092
New Lenox township. Illinois USA
My Coop
My Coop
oh wow on the price
I get free bagged leaves in the fall, let cut grass dry in the summer and if desperate I get buy a 6$ bag of 3in1 bedding... I have a 8x24' and 8x8 coops// could not imagine the cost for those LOL
 

TalkALittle

Songster
5 Years
Dec 15, 2014
1,661
725
191
Massachusetts
I am brand new to owning chickens and have planned to use the deep litter method. I originally wanted to use American hemp bedding however after finding out the cost for 2 bags delivered is 99$ I'm looking for another alternative. . Has anyone used American hemp and can say how far 1 bag goes? Or are there better options out there? I have a flock of 10 and a decent size coop that's 4x6.


What is it about the hemp that attracted you to it?

If you are really wanting a true composting deep litter then it is really recommended to use a variety of different size and texture materials. I just don't see a benefit to hemp especially at that price.

Or are you just looking to maintain a really dry and deep layer of bedding? In that case, there are definitely cheaper alternatives that do a good job.

Is your coop interior 4x6, or is that coop and run? My little coop is just about that size and 2 bales of pine shavings twice a year gives me all the bedding I need.
 
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flyin-lowe

Songster
Jan 24, 2016
543
342
169
Indiana
I don't know about the hemp, but looking at the price I myself would not consider it. I start with 1 bag of pine shavings. Then every few weeks I add a different material. Ill rake grass clippings after I mow, I rake dried leaves, and sometimes I throw straw in there. Every week or so I throw a handful of scratch in and the hens stir it around. Then before winter shovel it all out and spread it over my garden. Then again before I plant I shovel it onto my garden and then till it in before I plant.
 

SnowKnitty

Chirping
Jan 20, 2017
36
44
79
South Jordan, Utah
8 x 24?
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Wow, would love to see the interior pics! (I've seen 2 bedroom apartments almost that size!)

As for the price, I agree with you. At current prices and availability, this product is really only feasible for small coop owners. In particular, those with an aversion or allergy to dusty coop litter and willing to pay a bit more to avoid it. (You should have seen us the first time we cleaned straw litter out of the coop. I think we were both green. A friend told us we'd be alright... once we toughened up a little.
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Pine shavings were a bit better. But we're still sensitive to it, especially in summer. Ugh!)
 

Tillicans

In the Brooder
Dec 27, 2016
113
6
38
Sydney, Australia
I've just started the DL method trial and error but finally getting the job done. I'm confused though when I read some throw scratch for the chickens in the coop/run wouldn't that attract mice etc. or are your chickens so determined to get to the last bit of morsel?
 

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