deep litter question

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jessica32, Jan 16, 2010.

  1. jessica32

    jessica32 Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 16, 2010
    Hi this is my first post to this amazing site. I have chickens for the first time this year so this is my first winter with them. I live in Michigan where it gets pretty cold and snowy. Because of that I decided to go with the deep litter method through the winter months. Everything was going great and about a week or so ago I went into my coop and thought -Wow this really smells like a barn- in a good way. The last week though all I can smell is strong ammonia smells. I have recently bought a new waterer that sits on a heater and some but not alot of water leaks out of it each time I refill it. Could the extra dampness be causing it? My coop isn't exremely well ventilated but, I leave the doors open for most of the day to compensate for that. I use pine shavings as litter and while I have a good 6 inches of depth, I add some fresh every week to keep it looking clean to me. Should I not be adding to it? I don't want my chickens to have to smell this all of the time. I have 15 chickens and my coop is approximately 8 x 6 so I feel like they have enough space especially as they spend a lot of time outdoors. Any input would be appreciated.
  2. Dar

    Dar Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 31, 2008
    Ventilation is the key! make some vents for the amonia to escape and also try stall dry or DE to cut the smell. I also use the DL method and I am in Ontario but I have plenty of ventilation and have 17 chickens in a 10X12 coop, I have 8' ceilings
  3. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2007
    Even when it's cold they need ventilation to keep that ammonia from building up. Just make sure it's not a draft on them where they roost. Having said that, I have some chickens who prefer to roost on a shelf right NEXT to the ventilation hole in the wall (it is a 15" hole up high) even when it's 15 degrees cold at night. !!
    Also, I have noticed that if some water spills (especially if it spills regularly) that will cause the problem you described because down below it may be getting moldy in the bedding where the water spills.
    Glad to hear you're a new chicken owner!
  4. jessica32

    jessica32 Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 16, 2010
    Thanks for the input! I have 2 vents waiting in my garage to be installed so I will get that done asap. Where should I put them? Currently i have one small vent at the top of the coop. Should I put the others high, low or in the middle? Also do you have any recommendations for waterers? Do you know of any that can be hung and heated, mine sits on the heater on the ground but my hanging non-heated waterers are a lot less leaky. That's all I could purchase at my local tractor supply company though.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Yes, the dampness from spilled water is likely at least *contributing to* the smell -- it also may be that it's just starting to add up from all the pooing they've been doing, as winter progresses.

    If you can refill the waterer *over* something, that will eliminate spills.

    It does sound though like you need a good bit more ventilation. I would encourage you to just cut some (well placed) big holes and make plywood (or etc) flaps to cover them, rather than using storeboughten vents which are almost always too small and occluded by louvers to do a heck of a lot of good.

    You want the vents you'll be using in wintertime to be at the very top of the wall(s) on at *least* the downwind wall(s), usually this means having them the full length of the top of the S wall and also at the top of the E and possibly other walls too. On typical Michigan-winter days you will only USE the downwind-side vents, so's to avoid a crossbreeze and drafts, but because sometimes the wind comes from funky directions it is very handy to have vents on all the walls so you can adapt to whatever weather you get.

    For summertime you want larger (much much larger) vent areas that can be lower on the walls, but you can worry about that come springtime [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

  6. saladin

    saladin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2009
    the South
    The deep litter method may be ok for some but personally I hate it! If you ever have problems with mites, lice, or disease then the deep litter method will simply make the problem worse.

    My suggestion is that now is a great time to change to regular cleanings of the housing area. saladin
  7. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    Are you using diatomaceous earth (food grade). If not, you should be; it really helps to keep the manure dry, along with many other benefits.
  8. Hillbilly Hen

    Hillbilly Hen Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2009
    Newaygo Michigan
    Quote:jessica, [​IMG]
    I also live in Michigan, I just hang a heat lamp above the waterers with a 100watt bulb. That keeps them from freezing for the most part. Also check out the link in my siggy for the upcoming Michigan Chickenstock. We would love to have you there!
  9. Chook-A-Holic

    Chook-A-Holic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 5, 2009
    Central, N.C.
    In my brooder house I put an 18"x18" piece of plywood on top of the shavings. Then I set the waterer inside of a pickle barrel lid. The lid catches any water that may be splashed out of the waterer. I now have zero problems with water getting into the shavings. I did this after the hanging waterer kept getting knocked around and dumping water on the shavings. Every few weeks I add a small amount of Stall Dri to the shavings and sprinkle more shavings on top. As others have mentioned you also need adequate ventilation.
  10. cybercat

    cybercat Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2007
    Greeneville, Tn
    For true DPL you need at least 8 inches litter. Also more than one kind would be best. Pine shaving are known for not being the best when it comes to absorbing urine. Wood pellets would be a great buy as they cut out stink and break down to sawdust. You can buy them cheap too as either horse bredding or woodstove pellets. TSC caries them for about 4 to 6 dollars. The horse bedding is called equine pine or fresh.

    I used this only in my brooder till I got them out in the coop. I know many that use it with adult chickens and have no problems with it at all. I use out in my coop because it is free for me, wood chips we got over the spring and summer from when they were clearing power lines. On top of that for winter I put straw since I have a few that sleep on the floor. This has worked well and chickens like scratching down to the chips to see what they can find. Once it warms up straw will be removed and fresh wood chips put in. I do fork this at least once a week sometimes more.

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