Deep litter method Vs. Traditional Cleaning

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by averycatherwood, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. averycatherwood

    averycatherwood Out Of The Brooder

    28
    2
    34
    Dec 5, 2013
    Concord, North Carolina
    I was wondering if the deep litter method really makes a huge difference in the smell of the coop. Is it a healthier environment for the hens than traditional cleaning?
     
  2. 1876 Farm

    1876 Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    I switched over my straw bedding for the DLM in December. I am using both wood shavings and DM Earth (which I purchased online, but have since found that Walmart carries it). There is a significant improvement!!! I even had my 18 hens closed up in the coop for a week due to weather and the smell was minimal. Every 2 weeks I add another layer of the shavings and a small bucket of DM Earth.

    [​IMG] Here's the coop when I first set it up... the white powder is the DM Earth.

    My husband was quite shocked that it worked. :)

    Try it!! I think you will be quite pleased with the results.
     
  3. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,534
    174
    186
    May 18, 2012
    Northern Virginia
    My Coop
    I'm not sure what would be the traditional cleaning system as the use of deep litter has been around for years and years. I doubt that my great-grandmother's generation of the early 1900's had the time to clean a coop daily with all the other home and garden chores that they had. They had chickens for both eggs and meat so am thinking they had larger flocks than many of us do.

    I initially used deep litter then went to sand based on the recommendations I was reading. After several months, I removed all the sand and went back to deep litter. Some prefer sand but I found it far more labor intensive than deep litter and it just wasn't for me.

    I've never had any odor with my deep litter and the key to that is to keep adding organic matter. I use pine shavings and leaves, which I collect and bag in the fall for winter use. Other's use sawdust and wood chips, too. I would use them but don't have access to them.

    My vet recommends deep litter as it imparts disease immunities to chicks. If your deep litter is actively "cooking", it can also raise the temp in your coop a few degrees, which has been important this year. It's a great insulator.

    I do not use DE in my deep litter as DE will kill the good critters and microbes that actually make deep litter work. It's counter-productive and can prevent your litter from breaking down as it should. I actually add shovels of dirt from our woods to inoculate the deep litter with those beneficial critters.

    There are several excellent threads on deep litter that should give you further info. Good luck on whatever you decide.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. MoonShadows

    MoonShadows The Jam Man

    1,162
    116
    178
    Jan 23, 2013
    Pocono Mtns
    My Coop
    I have not cleaned my coop since I first put my chickens in it on May 25th. (I do clean the poop board once a week.) I just add wood shavings/chips about once a month that I buy at Tractor Supply. So, it's been 8 months and all is well. I plan to clean it in the Spring, put the chips in the compost for the fall, and start off again.

    Jim
     
  5. eatwhatyougrow

    eatwhatyougrow Chillin' With My Peeps

    231
    20
    78
    Dec 30, 2013
    I have used tjis method in 4coops over the past 5 yrs. I had on coop that i didnt clean for two years. Man that was some great compost. It was dry and did not smell. You get some dust but i only add new pine shavings into the nest boxes. They kick it out into the coop. I occasionalky throw some scratch in there because they then scratch and turn the bedding. It is the only system i have used and has worked well.
     
  6. LindaB220

    LindaB220 Overrun With Chickens

    6,179
    696
    308
    Aug 23, 2013
    Portland/Vancouver area
    The DL method has been around for years, but didn't really become populat until WWI when the boys were gone to France. Women at home just didn't have time to do all the cleaning. Then they found out it was better. Just keeps growing in popularity.
     
  7. 1876 Farm

    1876 Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    I do not use DE in my deep litter as DE will kill the good critters and microbes that actually make deep litter work. It's counter-productive and can prevent your litter from breaking down as it should. I actually add shovels of dirt from our woods to inoculate the deep litter with those beneficial
    [/quote

    Thank you for mentioning this , I've heard it's benefial in the coop scine it will kill mites and lice, but it never occurred to me that it might not be good for my compost pile.
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,522
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I'm with Mtn Laurel--deep litter IS the traditional method!

    I don't remember exactly when I added shavings last spring, I think it was around March, maybe? Anyway, none were added until I put half a bale in there 2 weeks ago. At that point there was very minimal ammonia odor, nothing else. The shavings that had been there were decomposed to a fine substance, and no poop was readily identifiable except the last few day's worth.

    My birds dust bathe in the coop, in the fine material the shavings have broken down to. I add wood ashes on occasion. You won't find a healthier flock than mine. I've had no diseases, respiratory issues, etc----ever.
     
  9. whittychick

    whittychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    555
    30
    136
    Jul 28, 2013
    Cape cod
    How does it NOT smell? 2 weeks go by and mine is full of poo and so yucky!
     
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,522
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    How much floor space do you have, and how much shavings do you lay down? You need to start with a good thick layer, I'd say 5-6 inches or so. Other folks regularly stir/rake their shavings to mix the poop in better, I've never had the need. You can also toss scratch down and let the birds do the work for you [​IMG]
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by