1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Deep litter question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by robyn8, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. robyn8

    robyn8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    254
    13
    81
    Mar 21, 2016
    Dexter, Michigan
    For those who use deep litter do you really HAVE to clean it out yearly or bi annually?

    I have an 8x8 coop. We have only 3 pullets right due to some losses and accidental cockerels earlier (started with 6 babies). I use a droppings board I clean off daily into our woods and probably 6-8 inches of pine shavings in coop. It's been dry all winter with zero smell. I helped turn it every once in a while but the chickens do a good job mixing it up. The bottom of the bedding is very dry crumbly broken down shavings. It seems really clean to me still, especially with so few birds in there now, so do I really need to clean it out and start over this spring? I started the deep litter in about August and added a lot when it got chillier and then a little more every few weeks.
     
  2. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,020
    204
    151
    Mar 17, 2015
    SW Ohio
    If you feel it's still clean enough, I'd let it go and re-evaluate in the fall. Every set up is diffferent and a cleaning schedule will become apparent. We have 6 hens in a 8' x 9' coop with deep bedding (pine flakes) and poopboard. Spring and fall works for us. We just did a clean out yesterday of the coop & run (spring only for run). We till everything into the garden before planting so spring works best for us.
     
  3. robyn8

    robyn8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    254
    13
    81
    Mar 21, 2016
    Dexter, Michigan

    Thanks for your input! I think you're right...I'll re-evaluate in the fall. [​IMG]
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,522
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I go by smell. If it stinks, I clean it. If it don't stink, I don't clean [​IMG].

    I've had some pens go well over a year. Some I needed to clean more often. With that large a coop, and that few birds, I'm thinking you're good for quite a while, especially if your coop stays nice and dry inside.

    Only reason I'd clean if it weren't stinky was if I wanted the compost for the garden, etc.
     
  5. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    16,485
    4,504
    481
    Mar 9, 2014
    Oregon
    My Coop
    X 2 -- there beauty of DLM is there is no real "rule" about things like that -- you just do it when it needs done, and you'll know when that is.
     
  6. robyn8

    robyn8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    254
    13
    81
    Mar 21, 2016
    Dexter, Michigan
    Thanks so much for all the input! When you all do clean out your coops do you spray everything down with dilute bleach or anything? I'm debating about that because I'd hate to kill all the good bugs I've got growing if we don't have any issues with sicknesses or anything.
     
  7. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,020
    204
    151
    Mar 17, 2015
    SW Ohio

    We don't, but never have had a lice or mite invasion.
     
  8. robyn8

    robyn8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    254
    13
    81
    Mar 21, 2016
    Dexter, Michigan

    Great thanks! I'd rather not do it but didn't want to be neglectful, lol.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    19,937
    3,094
    476
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I agree with what they said but I’ll add my experience. Technically the deep litter method is when you compost in the coop or run. For the stuff to compost it needs to be slightly damp so the things eating that and turning it into compost can live and reproduce. If it is too dry that can’t happen. If it is too wet, it stinks and turns slimy, just like your compost pile can do if it is too wet.

    My coop stays too dry for that stuff to break down. I also use a droppings board to reduce the poop load in the coop and get that poop for my compost pile. My bedding is wood shavings. My chicken density usually isn’t too bad in there, they spend most of their days outside.

    I clean mine out once every three or four years. Not because I have to (I do the smell test also) but because I want that on my garden. I put it on in the fall after the garden is done and till it in. By planting time it has broken down. When I clean it out it is not black rich compost, it’s mostly sawdust, the chickens have shredded those wood shavings to bits with their scratching. There is some poop in there too, I can really tell where I put it on the garden when I’m not too lazy to put it there.

    Some people clean on a daily or weekly basis, their set-up and conditions make that a good thing to do, especially smaller coops in suburbia. Some of us are lucky enough to be able to set it up to minimize cleaning.

    When I do get around to cleaning mine out, I do not treat for anything. But that’s one of my philosophies, I only treat when I see a problem. I have not wormed my chickens or treated for mites or lice since I moved here and started this flock in 2009. I butcher chickens regularly and split the intestines to look for worms. I haven’t seen any. I check for mites and lice too and haven’t seen any of them, so I haven’t treated. When I was a kid growing up many decades ago Dad did treat for mites or lice a couple of times. He never did for worms.

    Chickens live in a microbe rich environment. Some are beneficial, some could be harmful, while most are neutral. I figure if you kill off that microbe life when you don’t see a problem you are more likely killing beneficial microbes and doing more harm than good. But that is just my opinion.

    Good luck!
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. robyn8

    robyn8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    254
    13
    81
    Mar 21, 2016
    Dexter, Michigan

    I totally agree with your philosophy. I just needed reassurance I guess. And yes my coop is very dry and the broken down shavings are mostly saw dust at the bottom and not really compost. Which is fine with me. I just want the ladies comfy and things not stinky. My run is probably more like real compost under the mulch. I just keep adding more as it breaks down and the girls churn it up well enough that it doesn't smell.

    Thanks so much for your comments and reassurance!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by