Deep Litter Method - Lots of Questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cutestchickens, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. cutestchickens

    cutestchickens New Egg

    Mar 16, 2017
    Hello BYC community!

    I read a lot of different articles/posts about the deep litter method and I'm interested in doing that for my chicken coop. However, even after reading a lot of posts, I am still a little confused so here are some questions I'm hoping can be answered:

    (1) Some people say to sprinkle some food grade diatomaceous earth in the mix to help reduce odor and natural pest control. However, I also see some posts that discourage the use of diatomaceous earth because it kills the healthy composting microbes. So which is actually better - do I use it or not?

    (2) Do you use the deep litter method inside the chicken coop itself, inside the run, or both? I purchased a coop online that contains both the coop to house the chickens inside and a run, so I'm wondering where I'm supposed to do the DLM.

    (3) Some people suggest using "sweet pdz horse stall refresher" to help with odor. Can I use this in conjunction with the deep litter method? Or will it be unnecessary?

    Thank you! :)
  2. Hillaire

    Hillaire Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 13, 2017
    Hudson Valley NY
    1. For some reason DE is a controversial thing to talk about... some people are for it some people aren't. I don't use it in my deep litter compost but I do use it in the chicken run in my chickens "dust bath hole". Yeah, my chickens dug a hole in the run so I put DE in it for them to dust bathe to get rid of any mites.

    2. I don't use the deep litter method in the chicken run... I have a large chicken run, this winter during the big blizzard I put a few bales of hay in the run to keep their feet from freezing... I'll never do this again... it worked to keep the feet healthy but when the snow melted and that stuff was caked up about 12 inches... it wasn't fun to scoop out... the smell alone was just terrible... deep litter method in the coop great in the run terrible...

    3. I'm not sure about the sweet pdz horse stuff... but to keep smell down I just make sure any poo on top of the nest boxes or not in the straw I clean up when the straw starts to stink just add more... I clean out once in the fall once in the spring
  3. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2015
    SW Ohio

    Welcome to BYC! This forum was a lifesaver when we first got chickens. Everyone was so helpful. I enjoy passing on what I've learned.

    1- I have used DE but honestly, not routinely and can't give any pros or cons. I have sprinkled it in the the nesting boxes under the hay to deter mites/lice. We haven't had any mites with or without. Since we use wood ash in the dust bath mixture and that is suppose to naturally deter mites and lice, I stopped buying it.

    2- We do the Deep Litter Method in the run. Our coop floor is OSB so we don't encourage moisture which is needed for the breakdown of the "litter". We use pine flakes in the coop. Our run is covered with a solid roof but gets enough moisture from blowing rain to allow this decomposing. We use hay, straw, grass clippings, leaves, landscape debris and pine needles, whatever is available. We add these materials through out the year then do a complete clean out in the spring. All that beautiful compost gets tilled into the garden.
    The poo breaks down along with the materials. We have someway found the correct balance that works for us, so there is no odor or flies but each situation is different with climate, size of run, and number of chickens. You want to balance the greens with the browns.

    3-We have a poopboard under the roost, it's filled wil PDZ. It gets sifted out everyday or so but the PDZ does help with odor. We use the granular type and makes sifting much easier, sort of like cat litter.

    Hope this helps.
    1 person likes this.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!

    DE is pretty much a waste of money, unless you have grain mites in your feed storage, then it's the bomb....
    .....tho I do stuff it in any cracks and crevices in the coop and nests.
    It may help as preventative and it does make lot of people happy.

    Semi-Deep litter works great in my run to 'eat' up the poops and keeps odors way down in wet weather.
    I use poop boards and PDZ in coop with dry shavings on floor.
    Would not want DL in my coop tho.

    You'll have to decide what will work in your climate and your situation.
    There are as many opinions and preferences as there are chicken keepers, very few agree on everything.

    Here's a great description of contents and how to manage organic 'bedding' in a run or coop...and there's a great video of what it looks like.
  5. cutestchickens

    cutestchickens New Egg

    Mar 16, 2017
    Thank you all for the very insightful feedback!

    I don't think I will be using the DE since it's a bit of a hassle for me to get anyway. So if I don't need it, then I won't purchase it.

    I still haven't decided whether to use the DLM in the run or the coop, but I'll probably decide once my coop is built and I can see for myself the size of everything.

    Thanks again everyone! You were all super helpful :)
  6. OldCoach

    OldCoach New Egg

    Mar 7, 2016
    Spring Branch Texas
    Have never used DE so don't have any opinion good or bad. I also have an OSB floor in my coop so only pine shavings in there. In the run I put all the grass clippings I get. The hens love it when I refresh the clippings. They scratch away. In the spring I scoop it up and put it in the garden and flower beds. Good compost that is great for our tomatoes.

    I put PDZ on the poop board. It gets scooped at least once a weak, most of the time twice, and refreshed about once per month. Whenever I change the pine shavings, about every 10-12 weeks, I put down new PDZ.

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