Deep Litter Method - Clarification Needed

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by MWright936, Jul 1, 2016.

  1. MWright936

    MWright936 Just Hatched

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    Here is a photo of my coop for reference:

    [​IMG]

    This is my first time dealing with chickens. We have 4 hens that are still in a brooding pen but will be making this coop their home very soon.

    Per earlier recommendations from folks on this site, I will be adding an additional base of 2x6's to increase the depth on the bottom and utilize the deep litter method. I'll also be adding more ventilation to the coop. I have been doing some research on the deep litter method, and I understand everything, but I can't find specific information on one question I have. I know I start with 4-6" of pine shavings, keep it stirred around every few days so it doesn't cake up, and then add fresh bedding periodically. However, when I stir things around in there, do I just need to stir up the surface (like with a garden rake) or do I need to churn everything from the bottom up (like with a pitch fork)? I want to make sure I do this right so everything composts as it should. I am in East TX so you have a reference of climate.

    Please share your deep litter wisdom. Thanks!
     
  2. BruceAZ

    BruceAZ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Valley of the Sun :)
    east Texas ?

    what's the typical temperature there ?

    if it's the same as phoenix arizona.. then don't bother with deep litter method

    since it's pretty much composting- compost will heat up

    and you do NOT want to have a compost pile in the run or the coop

    if it's 110+ outside and adding a compost pile in the run or coop is a bad idea
     
  3. MWright936

    MWright936 Just Hatched

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    It's typically not 110 degrees here. Not to say it hasn't gotten that hot before in bad summers, but it's usually not above triple digits. I have pretty good shade over the coop area too. I have heard quite a few folks talk about using this method in similar climates, so I'm hoping the heat won't cause an issue.
     
  4. BruceAZ

    BruceAZ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Valley of the Sun :)
    do you have a compost pile/bin ?

    deep litter method is pretty much composting-- it's ideal for cold states since it will help keep the chickens warm

    it doesn't have to be 110..

    when it's in 80's.. when i'm turning my compost pile i can feel the heat from it
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2016
  5. MWright936

    MWright936 Just Hatched

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    I appreciate the input here, but I feel like this thread is getting away from the question I was asking. I have done the research enough to know that many people use this method in my region (or even hotter/wetter areas) and have had no issues with the heat created from the composting. I am already constructing modifications to the coop in order to utilize the deep litter method. I will keep an eye on things as the composting begins, and if it does create excessive heat that may be harmful to the birds, I will explore another method. My question is: When I stir the bedding, do I just need to scratch around on the surface or completely turn everything over from the bottom to the top?
     
  6. KikisGirls

    KikisGirls Professional in training Premium Member

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    I would mix it all up....from the bottom.
    But it is probably a wait and see project.

    Just put your girls out and turn it when you feel you need to.
     
  7. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If are going to do the deep litter, then add maybe 2 to 4 inches or so to start, then add to it as time goes on when the run looks, gets messy. It would be pine chips plus any other coarse organic matter to start. Nobody ever mentions garden mulch, but you could use it as well as pine chips, PLUS whatever kitchen scraps you think they might eat, which may be just about all of them. Droppings will fall on the litter and get incorporated in. You will know when it's time to add more litter of some type when it starts to cake over and/or starts to smell and draw flies. You can get the birds to help stir it for you by tossing on a handful of scratch grains now and then. Raw oats work well. They will scratch, dig and turn it for you looking for the bits they think they missed. Worst case scenario is you go in with a pitch fork to turn it now and then (then stand back as the birds attack it again).

    At this depth, this is not going to heat up like a regular compost pile will. It is more of a cold rot breakdown than a hot compost. Once you have gone as high as you think you can....maybe 10 inches....maybe a foot..... then clean it out......being on cement will make cleanout much easier than dirt. What you clean out, if then placed in a compost bin, such that it has enough mass to start heating up as true compost, it may then get hot and finish the compost job.
     
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  8. MWright936

    MWright936 Just Hatched

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    Thanks, Howard and Kiki! That was exactly what I was looking for.

    I'm sure I'll learn more as I go. I just like going into new things with as much info as possible so I don't screw it up! I've already put some money into this whole ordeal so I want to make sure I do it right and have healthy chickens that give me lots of good eggs!
     
  9. KikisGirls

    KikisGirls Professional in training Premium Member

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    What kind of chickens did you get?
     
  10. MWright936

    MWright936 Just Hatched

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    2 Rhode Island Reds and 2 Ameraucanas
     

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