Deep litter method & ventilation in desert climate

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by zephyr66, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. zephyr66

    zephyr66 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    hi all... first of all, i have read the message boards on deep litter method, but haven't found an answer to my specific question. i live in the california high desert where most of the year has a pleasant climate, but summers for a few months are very hot (around 110 degrees high) and very low humidity. i'm currently constructing my coop now - it's a 6x8 foot coop and 6 feet high. here is my question. i really really like the idea of the deep litter method - not because i am lazy, ha ha, but because it ironically seems to be the most sanitary and provides birds with b12 and gives them a little resistance to coccidiosis. my coop has windows on all sides and each window is about 2 feet wide and 1 foot high. there are a total of 6 windows. i am thinking of keeping the dirt floor for the deep litter method for better composting. (covered with chicken wire to prevent critters from burrowing in). the foundation perimeter is cinder blocks so the deep litter will not rot out any wood. i have read that you need a well ventilated coop for the deep litter method. will my 6 windows be enough ventilation? also, i have heard the deep litter method because it is a form of slow composting causes heat. do you think this will be too much in the summer for them? i plan on getting a heat tolerant bird such as rhode island red. like i said, humidity is low here, rain is infrequent and i will have waterers where they cannot spill in bedding. so.... long question. if someone has feedback regarding my ventilation and the summer temps here, i'd appreciate it. also, i'm only going to have 4 or 5 hens so they will have lots of room and there will be a good sized outdoor run with shade. thanks!

    sylvia [​IMG]
     
  2. azelgin

    azelgin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I live in S.E. Arizona, at about 5200' elevation. My coop ventilation and weather is very close to what you describe (we only reach 100*). I use the deep litter method too, well sort of, about 8" deep. Things dry out so fast, I have no composting action happening at all, just a lot of shavings with dry chicken poop mixed in. I also have very little smell, or flies. I end up cleaning the coops out once a year, putting everything in a big pile and watering it to get things working. I've switched from shavings to wood chips ( they're free) this year, with little difference in results. Mixed the coop litter with the mule poop and my garden is doing great this year.

    We have about 70 birds. Buff Orpingtons, Wyandottes and EEs. Have not lost any to heat problems.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2010
  3. zephyr66

    zephyr66 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    azelgen, thank you. so, you think i have enough windows? sounds like a yes! that is a relief so far. if you don't mind me asking... are your breeds flightly that you listed? my run will be fenced about 5' high but a flighty bird will be gone i'm sure. i've heard rhode island reds do well in heat and typically aren't flighty. i appreciate your response! sounds like a nice place you have.

    sylvia
     
  4. azelgin

    azelgin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Orps and Wyandottes can't clear a 4' fence. The EEs can get over a 6' fence, but tend to stay where the rest of the flock is. The EEs tend to be the friendliest, followed by the Wyandottes, with the Orps being the less sociable of the group. Mine free range during the day, on about 5 acres surrounded by a 4 1/2 foot fence. My mules stomp any unwanted predators that decide to enter the area. I've lost two chickens in three years. On to my brother's dog, one to a coyote, that nabbed a straggler on the wrong side of the fence.
     
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    In your climate, I would say you are going to need a lot of ventilation because of the heat, not because of deep litter. My goal in hot weather is to not have the coop be even hotter than the outside air. Also, to have the coop cool off as soon as possible in the evenings, as the outside air cools.

    Having some ventilation at the highest point in the coop will help the hottest air escape and let cooler (sometimes just less hot) air flow in from lower in the coop, like the windows.

    I lived in Texas for a few years and I remember it being 114 degrees there. I feel for you! Where I live now, it doesn't go over 100 degrees very often, but it does get in the upper 90's, with humidity in the upper 90's, too. Summer weather can be oppressive. I have windows on all but the north side of the coop. One wall has a pair of huge windows that swing open like shutters and open up a large portion of that wall. I can have the coop wide open in the summer or closed up for the winter.

    If you aren't too far along in your building, yet, I would look at some of the hot weather coops that have most of the front as hardware cloth and the back as sheltered roosting. It sounds like that would be a good style for you.

    As for deep litter, I can see where you wouldn't have any composting going on in the litter, unless you actually added water to the litter, since it's so dry there. I wouldn't worry about it. With deep litter, I normally clean it out in the spring and head into summer with very little litter in the coop. It builds up through the year and over the winter. With the chickens outside all day in the summer and not much litter in there, you don't get a lot going on in the litter, even in a less dry environment.

    If you want to look at which breeds do best in hot weather, you can take a look at Henderson's breed chart. There's a column that includes hardiness to heat and cold. The lighter weight chickens do a little better in hot weather, although there are all types of breeds living in all types of climates in the US.

    http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Agree with all the above. Not much composting will go on; the pooey litter will just sort of sit there until you remove it. (Dust may or may not become a problem). Heat from WEATHER is the bigger issue, and having a coop as open as possible in as large an area of *shade* as possible is the best strategy.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  7. zephyr66

    zephyr66 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    hi all and thanks for the posts. unfortunately, i'm still getting the a response that leaves me puzzled. i keep hearing i need a "well ventilated coop" and mentioned the size of my coop, number and size of windows to know it that's well ventilated. an open coop in the desert is not an option as the winds can be severe at times and you never know what direction it will come from. my coop is 6 x 10 and i have 6 windows (up high) at about 2 feet wide by 1 foot high. is this well ventilated? thank you!

    sylvia
     
  8. azelgin

    azelgin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:You'll be ok. Sounds pretty well ventilated by my standards. My floor space to openning window area is about 20%. My interior hight of the coop is 8 1/2 feet. I open and close windows, depending on the wind direction and weather. If all your window space you describe is openable, you are about the same as me, 20%. You do have far fewer chickens planned for yours than I have living in mine, so you'll not be getting as much warming from the chickens themselves, as I do. I also insulated the walls and ceilings, which helps a lot with keeping the heat out. I hope this helps.
     
  9. zephyr66

    zephyr66 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 5, 2009
    Ramona, CA
    yes, helps a lot! thank you so much. have a great day!

    sylvia [​IMG]
     
  10. LeftAtAlbuquerque

    LeftAtAlbuquerque Out Of The Brooder

    I'm in a very similar climate - roughly 5200 ft, very windy at times, extremely low humidity. Today it was almost 100 with 7% humidity. I'm using deep litter, but I have linoleum floor and pine shavings. Our coop is not finished yet - we have hardware cloth on the windows and under the floor, but haven't finished the windows yet, and the ventilation is great, but I have found that I have to spray the shavings due the the dryness and dust. We have windows on three sides.
     

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