Deep Litter Method


In the Brooder
11 Years
Jan 7, 2009
Hello everyone

Im interested in the deep litter method i've done a search on the topic but am still confused:/
How do you go about it?
Do u put a whole bag of shavings in the coop and keeping adding some everyday?
Doesnt it get "stinky"?
And wouldnt this method be expensive?

I've noticed that chickens poop EXCESSIVELY, EVERY DAY!

Any tips would greatly be appreciated.


10 Years
May 11, 2009
Cincinnati, Ohio
I'm no expert, but I've dumped about 4" of shavings in my coop -- as they dirty it up and scrunch it down you're supposed to add more -- say monthly. Shavings are only about $5 a bag -- my 4'x8' coop holds two bags.

Mind you, my chickens are not in the coop all the live long day -- they're in the run. At night they should be sleeping on a roost with a poop board underneath (they're not, but they should be
) So I don't expect the coop to get overly poopy.

My plan is to replace all the old shavings in April when I do spring cleaning. I think that's how it's supposed to work -- if not I'm sure someone will come along and correct me.

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Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers
10 Years
Sep 22, 2009
My slice of heaven in Somerset, CA
I have several coops, but let me discuss how I handle the largest one. It's 4x8 and most of the adult chickens roost in there, 8 of them, currently. It took two bales of pine shavings for the "initial" set up to about 4 inches deep. Every couple of days, I rake out the biggest poop blobs into a bucket and put that into the compost heap. These blobs are mostly poop, very little of the shavings, just what's stuck to 'em. Every couple of weeks I throw some more pine shavings in there, and a couple handsful of food-grade DE. The chickens stir it up themselves; I don't have to do it.

I totally empty the coop every six months or so.... and start all over again.

There is hardly any odor, surprisingly. I won't say there isn't ANY, but it's very mild. The pine shavings absorb moisture and it stays dry in there.

I use pine shavings in the deep litter method in all my coops.

silky ma

12 Years
Sep 14, 2007
I tried the deep litter method and did not like it , especially in the fall and winter seasons, it was too wet even with heat lamps and loads of ventillation. I opted to just keep a sturdy wood floor in my coop and bought a couple of cans of truck bed liner and rolled the floor and 1/2 way up the sides of the interior of the coop. I had to buy the Herculiner on line because I wanted it in white not black.
I layed down a light dusting of Food grade DE and pilled in 3 inches of shavings. To clean up I just go out every 3 days with a LARGE CAPACITY shoppe vac and suck up the waste and wet bedding and add more bedding as needed. I dump the vac contents into my compost heap and turn in or I can empty it into a large hefty leaf bag , tie off and into the trash. SOOOOOOO Easy!


9 Years
May 31, 2010
Portland, OR
Mine spend most of their day in the coop and I have about 10" of bedding in there so far. I would argue that it's LESS costly than laying a thin layer of shavings and cleaning out completely because once the poo dries out, it becomes bedding itself. I only add now a few handfuls occasionally for a fresh layer. While I was searching on the vary topic, I came across a quote (paraphrased) that pretty much sums it up: If you have to mess with the bedding, you're doing it wrong.

It sounds gross but it really isn't, surprisingly.

The bedding itself does not stink at all. If it stinks, it's either because someone left you a nice fresh cecal poo nearby or you have a water leaking making the bedding wet. The pine shavings help dry out the poo, and the air pockets it creates help dry it out fast. The smell is from the ammonia in wet poo, which will evaporate quickly enough if you have adequate ventilation. Diet has impact too... wet poo generally stinks more. I live in the pacific north west so even with our humidity DLM is working well.

My coop is 4x5, and I just started with 3-4 inches so that they are walking on solid shavings instead of ground, which is the same thing I did when I had them in their 2x4 brooder. I'm composting everything they did in the brooder and I plan on cleaning the coop out either late fall or early spring, or basically twice a year. I just happened to start them in the coop in between seasons so it's something I have to decide here shortly.

The girls love it. I watch them from work all day and they spend time working/turning the bedding or roosting among the various perches when they're not laying me eggs.


9 Years
Jun 26, 2010
Holland, VT
I have read a lot about DLM on the forums and some of them mention adding "stall dry" to the mixture. At our local TSC they have 2 kinds, one is pine based and one is corn. Has anyone tried these and if so, how do they work? DH is afraid that since it is in pellet form that they will eat it. I have both turkeys and chickens in a 11"x12" coop. So far just the shavings are keeping them dry except for a couple weeks ago when we had so much rain that is seeped up through the floor and I had to clean it all out and start all over again.


13 Years
Jul 10, 2009
I've been using the deep litter method for over 15 years now, but then I built my Coop with that process in mind. See my BYC page. In order for the DLM to work you need a dirt floor, mine is within a brick foundation below the outside ground level. I only need to clean it out in the spring when I want the rich brown chicken compost for my garden.

Olive Hill

10 Years
Apr 19, 2009
I think you're looking at the pelleted bedding, which is different. It's safe to use, the chickens may peck at it a bit at first but they quickly figure out it's not palatable -- you're supposed to mist it lightly with a hose when you put it down, which makes it expand and turn into more like saw dust. Personally, I use it dry, in pellet form mixed into duckling and gosling bedding and it's wonderful. Very absorbent.

The stall dri people talk about however, is an off-white, granular consistency and usually used in place of DE where people don't have a good source of it. It helps neutralize ammonia odors, etc. Many TSCs carry 'Sweet PDZ' rather than 'Stall Dri' these days.


Free Ranging
12 Years
Oct 16, 2010
*NOTE* When buying pine chips ask the attendent for the big bags out back!!! *NOTE*

I mention this as I bought my first bag from the front shelves for $5 and it barely filled the small coop. Then asked cashier next time if they had larger bags and purchased a 3.5 cubic ft compressed bale of pine shavings for $6.50. It's lasted nearly all summer using 2" deep and cleaning out every 2 or 3 weeks to put into compost.

The cost of chips at first concerned me then I realized I'd been jipped with the first front shelf bag. 3.5 cubic ft bales go a LONG way

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