deep litter method


In the Brooder
6 Years
Aug 29, 2013
So winter is coming. I have a pretty small coop and run for my girls but they seem happy. I was wondering how good of an idea the deep litter method is? I dont plan on heating my coop so i thought this might help keep them warmer thru their first winter. Any advice? ?
I plan on using the deep litter method this winter as well. I guess I'm using it now, really. I tacked up a 12" tall piece of plywood in front of my door so that when I open it, litter doesn't come tumbling down. I've been adding a couple inches of straw and pine shavings every Friday. It's already getting deep, but I think it will eventually start to break down. I also mix it up with a soil scratcher and throw in scratch so the ladies will help too. Also, a liberal dusting of diatomaceous earth is key. Here's a wonderful article about this method. Good luck!
smile.png I do the same thing in the nest boxes?? Or just the floor? And how do they not get lost in all that!? Lol
Haha, they do manage to stay afloat. They'll even scratch to the floor, which means they're mixing it all up for me. I just mix the litter and then even it back out again.

And yes, just add to the floor. We just got our second egg in as many days, so I haven't had to deal with the nesting boxes too much. But I can imagine needing to add straw and shavings as it gets pushed out, or if the boxes need a good cleaning. They haven't pooped in them, thank goodness!

We do have mostly mild winters, but January and February can get to -20, so I think the DLM will be good! Oh, also make sure you have good ventilation. I hear that chickens can withstand severe temperatures if they are dry. I intend on installing many vents at the top of my coop this weekend. Wahoo!
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We have open vents in the eves of the coop. But we then put a big window in the bottom this summer for more air flow. Well have to cover that one up for winter I think. My chickens do poop in the boxes. So ill still be cleanin those out. Thanks for all the info.
I would assume DL method is similar to the gravel on the bottom of fishtank, or how a septic tank works.. In both you never 100% clean out or replace what's there. A fishtank you normally don't change out more than 30% of the water, or overclean the gravel as you get rid of all the good bacteria the tank worked long and hard on building.

I would assume (i'm new to entire chicken thing), if using the DL method, you would do the same. Never replace more than a 1/3 to 2/3 of the litter that way there is always a good base of good bacteria already present and you aren't starting all over again. If you replace 100% you go back to zero beneficial bacteria, and your flock has to adjust, and their immunities will degrade
Interesting. I'm pretty sure with the DLM you don't take any litter out, just append more. I'm new to the chicken thing too, I could be wrong! :)
The DLM is also about keeping dirt floored pens and coops from becoming a mud bog during wet winter weather. Anything that will keep your chickens from getting mud sickles on their feet and between their toes during cold weather will go a long way towards keeping them warm and healthy. The exercise they get turning over the litter prevents a lot of lung and other problems and it also helps generate body heat. Plus scratching for tidbits of food helps your flock's outlook on life.
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So, how would straw work for DLM? Mine are using sand now, but plan on changing for the winter. I have straw available to me pretty much free. I throw it in their run when it gets muddy, but clean it about once per month for the compost pile. I think for the winter, I'll put the straw in there a bit thicker and keep adding.

Would like to change the coop to straw and thought DLM would be a good winter option. I could get wood chips, I suppose but hate to spend the $$. Also, if the coop is off the ground with a painted wood floor, will this work well?

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