deep litter method for warmth

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by rhoda_bruce, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. rhoda_bruce

    rhoda_bruce Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2009
    Cut Off, LA
    I probably don't have much to worry about as far as keeping my chickens warm throughout the winter, but I keep cypress and pine needles under the roost which is a closed room in the coop about 8X9 ft. Well I have very little room left in my compost pile for anything to be added for now, but I do have some messy litter, so I am thinking it is time to change out. Here is the thing. If I put very deep litter........much deeper than I usually do and allow them to poop away all winter, how much in temperature difference do ya'll feel I would be looking at when I really have a hard freeze? I know the decomposition will generate some warmth, but I am just curious. 7 to 10 degrees would be wonderful in my opinion, but I don't know if anyone ever did a study on it or measured the temps in their coops by the use of this method. I plan on measuring my temps though. Then in the spring, I will have lots of poop to figure what to do with.......hopefully my compost will be ready to go into the garden and I can have a fresh place.
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    How much difference you get in coop temp. depends TOTALLY on your coop size, insulation, ceiling height, how much ventilation is open, and how mcuh composting you have going on. If you have a large amount of litter (like a foot or more, and it's pretty pooey, and not too dry) and it is already starting to cook (much much likelier if you're on a dirt floor than if it's on a raised wood floor), then you can potentially see "some real" difference in temperature if the coop is very heat-retentive. If the bedding is thinner, or fresher and not so pooey, or very dry, or by virtue of being on a raised wood floor does not have many composting microorganisms working on it at present, then I would not hold my breath to see any difference.

    There is no way to generalize or predict, since those factors are so important and vary so much among different peoples' coops.

    Sorry not to be more help, but that's kind of the way it is.

    Surely you can't be needing much heating in Louisiana, though, even if you are in the northern part of the state? [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  3. cybercat

    cybercat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 22, 2007
    Greeneville, Tn
    Well, in mine 8x8x8 coop I have about 8 inches nowof bedding. Bottom layer is wood chips top layer straw. I started just with the chips late summer and have not changed them out at all. Early fall I added straw due to adding nest boxes. They mulched it all down and I have been turning it or forking it every few days to mix in poop. 2 days ago I added another bail of straw due to low of 20. I have 23 chickens in this coop and they free range during the day. Hanging water was put in also after this last bail of straw. No heat or light or insulation. Water did not freeze over night and we have not had any frostbitten combs or feet.

    My roo did not leave coop today till about half hour ago. Pullets have been out since I open coop. It is noticble warmer in coop than outside. We have a slit slanted roof that is open eves. There is a pic of the coop on my chickens blog. I have been blogging them since i got them so that post is a bit back.
     
  4. The Chicken People

    The Chicken People Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2009
    Smithville, Mo
    I have a dirt floor in the run and was noticing the deepness of the litter so I scooped some out yesterday added new shavings.I will add more leaves as it gets messy again or straw...is it ok to just mix it all in and keep adding or should I be scooping it out once a month?
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2009
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    If you're *trying* to get some composting going on, you want to leave the litter in place for as long as possible (til problems become noticeable), just fluff it up periodically so it doesn't get too packed down and add a bit of fresh stuff on top as needed. I would not suggest mixing the new bedding in with the old, just put it on top.

    Remember though that ANY coop will tend to stay warmer inside than outside, esp. in a cold snap, and esp if it is a larger rather than a tinier coop. Most of the difference is attributable to factors *other than* compost heat.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  6. The Chicken People

    The Chicken People Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2009
    Smithville, Mo
    Cool I will just mix it then add new! I dont like hauling it out anyways...save my back for doing wood! My girls are in a pretty decent sized coop and the big round bales of hay will be added around the outside this week to help with insulation!
     
  7. PeggySueQ

    PeggySueQ Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 13, 2009
    My concern is that you will have an unhealthy build-up of toxic gases (such as ammonia) and also mold. I remove the poop chunks weekly and add fresh straw. I know you want to save your back but you need to keep it healthy in there.
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    I know people who haven't seen it successfully working can be skeptical, and it doesn't work in *all* situations, but honest, you really CAN have a good built-up litter pack WITHOUT ammonia or humidity problems. The microbes in the litter take care of excess nitrogen issues, and appropriate ventilation (in an appropriate climate!) takes care of humidity problems.

    Basically a person just has to keep an eye on the situation. If it is working, what's not to like. If there are problems developing, then you address them, either modifying what you're doing or in some cases abandoning altogether the idea of compost-style deep litter.

    It is entirely possible to have "deep litter" without dampness or composting, too, which retains most of the benefits and avoids most of the problems, and is workable in a wider range of climates.

    Pat
     
  9. cybercat

    cybercat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 22, 2007
    Greeneville, Tn
    Quote:Since you are on dirt you can do the real deep litter compost method. Do not take away but do turn before adding more. Chickens help alot by scratching in it looking for bugs. You must be at the leaast 6 inches deep or it just will not work as well as it could. I will not clean mine out till spring and everything will go right on the garden to be till in. Now i do not have my coop sealed either as I said open at side and front rafters so heat rises and excapes taking odors with it.
     
  10. kyrose

    kyrose Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2009
    Melbourne,Ky.
    Quote:Since you are on dirt you can do the real deep litter compost method. Do not take away but do turn before adding more. Chickens help alot by scratching in it looking for bugs. You must be at the leaast 6 inches deep or it just will not work as well as it could. I will not clean mine out till spring and everything will go right on the garden to be till in. Now i do not have my coop sealed either as I said open at side and front rafters so heat rises and excapes taking odors with it.

    i wanted to try the dlm.i just put about 4 inches of pine shavings over the straw i had in there.is this all i need to get started?also i added D E before i added the shavings.
     

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