Deep Litter Method: How to control the DUST???????

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Carolyn252, Oct 15, 2011.

  1. Carolyn252

    Carolyn252 Mother of Chickens

    Physical setup: a free-standing playhouse coop in the middle of a 9x15 foot welded-wire framed enclosure. The whole setup is the ChickArena. The three girls roost and lay eggs in the playhouse, and come and go from the playhouse on their own, because its doors are never closed. They spend time in the playhouse ONLY when they're on the roost for sleeping or when they walk inside to get to the nest box to lay their eggs. I never have to be there to let them out of their coop. Great for me. The wire-walled run surrounding the playhouse is large enough for them to spend weeks in there if need be. But they free range outside in my fenced backyard lawn for most of the day, every day.

    I can sleep late and only need to be there to open the big door to the backyard lawn, usually around ten or eleven in the morning, and then close and lock the big door again just before dusk.

    From late autumn until early spring, the outside of the ChickArena's four walls are wrapped with large tarps to keep the cold winds out. Lots of ventilation, as the entire roof is raised up off the welded-wire ceiling. And the playhouse roof has a five inch gap running along its entire peak. There's never been a build up of moisture or condensation.

    My three hens were never much interested in scratching around in the pine shavings, and so I only needed to sweep dust from the plastic tarps on the walls once a month or so for the past three years.

    But now I've added two Delaware hens to the ChickArena and the place is so thick with dust, I have to wear a face mask when I'm in there.

    I've got about eight inches of pine shavings on the dirt floor of the 9 x 15 foot run. Lots of DE mixed in to it. NO smell; very few flies. Poop just dries out and kinda disappears into the shavings when I rake it once a week or so. The plastic tarps cover the four walls in Fall and Winter only; just to keep the wind out. But the Delawares dig and dig and scratch and dig and scratch and scratch until they expose the bare earth and then they scratch at the dry earth until everything in the ChickArena run is covered in dust every single day.

    Any ideas on how to control the dust problem?
    I don't want to switch to using sand. All I can think of is to let those Delawares out of the run and into the free range backyard grass lawn early and not let them back in until dusk. Problem is, they're new to the flock, and much bigger than my original three girls and they are terrorizing them. So, I've been keeping the threesome separated from the Delawares all day; Threesome out on the backyard lawn from late morning to mid afternoon, Delawares confined to the ChickArena with the big door closed. I switch the two groups around 3 o'clock in the afternoon so that the Delawares can have time to lay their daily eggs before they're let out of the ChickArena for some free ranging through the grass and shrubbery.

    I've got a separate little wire and wood hen house at one end of the ChickArena. The Delawares sleep in there, locked away from my three playhouse hens.

    My threesome are all molting and not laying at all. I can't let the Delawares out until they've laid their daily afternoon eggs; they need to stay in where they have access to nest boxes or they'd lay their eggs out in the bushes.

    I've got some pinless peepers coming in the mail in a few days, maybe that will make it safe to let all five hens out into the backyard early in the day and I can leave the big door open and they can walk to the nest boxes whenever they want to. But I just know those Delawares LOVE digging in those shavings and am sure they'll keep it up even if the backyard is there for them.

    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
  2. Whiterabbit

    Whiterabbit New Egg

    Sep 18, 2011
    I've never had that problem but some ideas.

    Get some straw or hay for the run and layer it thick. It makes it a little more of a challenge to get to the dirt than shavings.

    Also if the dirt is really that dry get out the hose and water it down, its not going to harm them to do it a little. I move my coop around and will water the grass while they are in the area to save some of the sod. The chickens have grown used to the hose and like all the bugs that jump out of the way of it.

    Cool coop idea too btw [​IMG]
  3. Carolyn252

    Carolyn252 Mother of Chickens

    Thanks for your reply, WhiteRabbit. I may use the water idea, by spritzing with a spray bottle everywhere.

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