Deep Litter method or Sand??

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Neolones, Jun 21, 2016.

  1. Neolones

    Neolones Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello Dear Chicken Friends!

    I need y’all’s assistance! I have kept chickens before, but that was 15 years ago, and we lived in a farm and the chickens mostly lived outside and roosted in the trees (Mexico).

    Now, after finally getting the chicken coop built, I have debating if I should do the deep litter method or use sand. I have read so much about this, its a passionate subject. I do garden, and have 3 large garden beds, 10 fruit trees, and plenty of flowers/herbs/bushes. I was thinking of trying the deep litter method, so I could use the decompose matter directly into my garden beds. Not sure if I can do that with sand. Also, I see that people talk about adding DE, but DE kills worms, and I want the worms in my garden beds, so after moving the decompose matter, will it kill my worms?

    I am planning to start with 2 hens, and then every two years will add 2 more, and until I have 6.

    Any advise, will be welcomed. I live in Houston, so its hot & humid year round.



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  2. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nice looking setup.

    My vote is for deep litter. More like built up litter, but it will be deep. In the range of 4 inches or so to start and going to as much as a foot or more. Basically, a compost pile the birds live and play on. That will handle all the birds your coop is capable of and will be less work and it is all organic and will decompose over time.....in place or in your garden beds. Sand won't, and I cannot imagine.....even for a moment......wanting to move a pile of heavy wet sand encased in chicken manure.

    From what I have heard about the weather in Houston, you may want to replace the wire on top of your run with a roof of some type. It might only be nothing more than translucent plastic roof panels, but something to offer shade and shelter from the sun and rain.

    If you want to experiment with it, get yourself one a silver plastic tarp and drape it over the run as it is now. See if the birds spend more time out in the run vs. huddled under the coop in the shade.

    Also, if you are open to suggestions, you may want to replace that solid door on the coop with a screen door made of hardware cloth over a wood frame. In your climate, you (actually the birds) need ventilation in that coop and lots of it. Way more than they appear to have now. To test that, go sit in the closed up coop for a few hours under the mid-day sun. If that proves to be a hot sweat box for you, imagine how the birds will feel about it? Ideally, temps on the inside won't be much different than on the outside. If that is the case, then no worries. If not, and it is hot in there, best to find a way to open it up.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2016
  3. Neolones

    Neolones Out Of The Brooder

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    Yes, I am actually getting Polycarbonate roof panels for the run, to provide some shade & avoid having the coop so wet. I am planning to get my birds in October. I am thinking of going with the deep litter method, but I am afraid of smells, specially since I live in an urban environment, I don't want my neighbors complaining and having to get rid of my chickens.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    I think which method depends on a lot of stuff. For me I chose sand. I live in the Pacific Northwest and things don't dry out in the winter. Are you still in Mexico? (Now I see you are in Texas)

    I personally don't use DE or even like the idea of it (come to find out it is in my starter feed, so I changed brands), for reasons like you stated. Plus I don't like having a build up of waste. I seriously considered deep litter but ultimately decided it would not work well in my situation. I like composting and do so with red wigglers. Plus by cleaning regularly and using poop boards I can catch it fairly quick if someone is throwing any health issue signs via abnormal droppings. It's intestinal worm people are trying to kill with DE, not edible ones but it will do the same. I just do a separate scratching pen for regular compost instead of in the coop and it can still be used directly on your garden once ready. Sand will not hurt your compost and will help your garden drain nicely. There are different qualities of sand,... construction, playground, washed river (recommended).

    As far as raising your birds, I had the same original intent. Start with a couple and add a couple more every couple years. I have to say after raising chicks a few times I don't recommend less than 3. If something happens to 1 and you only have 2, that's lonely. Also, not all chicks are created equally. It's good to have a smarter 1 to figure things out for the others to follow. When I raised only 3 they developed slower than when I had 5 or 10. They seem to have more confidence when there are more of them. There are a lot more happy peeps coming from the brooder all the time. For those reasons I might suggest starting with 4 and adding 2 after that. I also suggest getting a mixed flock if you are not committed to 1 breed, I like being able to tell them apart. Also if you are getting pullets from the feed store, there are mix ups and their accuracy is only around 90%, you don't want 1 of your 2 to accidentally be a cockerel and end up with 1 lonely hen. Just giving you possibilities, not being a nay sayer. Hope I helped some.

    Best wishes!
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2016
  5. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    I think sand actually cools off nicely too. Now I see you have humidity and heat... definitely recommend sand. But I am no expert.
     
  6. Neolones

    Neolones Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you, I am still so divided, I like both approaches, I might do deep litter method in the outdoor uncover run & will do sand inside the coop and on the covered run. That will be a good compromise. I am a mess hahaha...cant make up my mind. Driving me crazy.

    I am not in Mexico anymore, I am in Houston.
     
  7. Chicken Egg 17

    Chicken Egg 17 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you are go into have 6 hens in that small of a run the poop will just build up in layers so sand wouldn't be the best option for you. And the deep litter the poo will do the same thing but he birds will turn it over and the rain will wash some of the poo away naturally, but to help keep the poo from piling up ypu can water down the run with your watering can or the hose and wash it down some and let the hens turn it and dig through it all good luck.
     
  8. TerryH

    TerryH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    Houston...Mexico...can't be that big of a difference....I'm sure there is a joke in there somewhere...:)

    We're preparing to do deep litter in our run as I feel like it's the best fit for us. Couple of questions if I may. What are the dimensions of the run? I assume you are planning on the chickens using the space under the coop? That might be an issue if you do deep litter in the "deep" sense of it. I would also be concerned with overall run space for 6. You are super smart to be ahead of the game with a coop and run before you have chickens so expanding the run would not be that big of a deal at this point. I also agree with the earlier comment on doing 2 at a time. I would consider 2 rounds of 3 if 6 is the intended end.
     
  9. Neolones

    Neolones Out Of The Brooder

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    Terry, I love your set up! That would be my ideal set up if I had the space, and the spouse wouldn't restrict my garden haha. So, I was considering the space under the coop, as run space, why would it be an issue, not sure if I understand. The full time run is 10 Ft. by 3.6 Ft., including 4 Ft. under the coop. If I don't include the space under the run, its only 6 Ft. by 3.6 Ft. They will have access to an uncover run, during the day that will be 12 Ft. by 3.6 Ft., additional to their original run. The outdoor run has some bamboo trees, mulberry tree & papaya trees. Will the outdoor run help?

    I was planning on using sand in the covered run & deep litter method on the outdoor run, and then rotate the litter from the outdoor run to the compost bin...What do you think about that approach?
     
  10. TerryH

    TerryH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop

    Sorry. I didn't get the 2 runs layout. I thought you were talking about deep litter in the covered run. Deep litter is literally deep, maybe 4" to start building up to 12" or more. I was asking if the chickens would have enough space to use the run under the coop with the reduced head room of deep litter. I see now what you are doing. Carry on.:)
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2016

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