deep litter question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by nature nut, Jan 23, 2010.

  1. nature nut

    nature nut Songster

    Aug 3, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I use sand in my house and run and I am very happy with it but am considering making a 4 x 4 box in the covered run with bedding in it to a) sprinkle scratch into for entertainment and b) have a deep litter area to attract some fly predators. We had a pretty bad time last summer with flies and fly traps are REALLY stinky. My coop and run didn't smell at all but that fly trap made being out near the coop yucky.

    So I am wondering if I could make a wooden box with an open bottom that I could put into the run (which is roofed) and just use it as a mini deep litter /treat area or would it be too moist from outside humidity to try something like that outside of the coop? I've read a lot of posts on the deep litter method and it sounds like it would not be smelly. Is that right? My coop is very close to my neighbor's house.

    Thanks for any advice.
  2. Baymen Moe

    Baymen Moe Songster

    Jan 17, 2009
    Pembroke, Ma.
    I think you might find that the chickens would sratch all the material out of the box anyway. That's if I'm understanding your plan right.

    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  3. possumqueen

    possumqueen Songster

    Aug 17, 2009
    Monroe, North Carolina
    whoa, nature nut, if your coop is close to your neighbor's house in Louisiana, then you might need deep bedding, which is just spreading a layer of straw or shavings in the run every day or so to cover the poo and give the girls something to scratch in. When it gets deep enough -- a few inches, then it starts heating up and cooking the stuff, turning it into good quality garden dirt. The girls will aerate it when they scratch, and there will be less odor.

    But make sure your neighbors are not home on the day you scoop it out, because odors will be released on that day. Spread some lime and more shavings, and the pen is back in business.

    Diatomaceous Earth is a good thing to spread, too. It is very drying, and keeps flies away. It is sold as Stall Dri, I think.

    PECULIARPETE In the Brooder

    Apr 23, 2009
    I use wood pellets and I think its better than shavings. I just turn it over with a 3 prong cultivator and there's no smell or flies. also unless it gets real wet, it doesnt need to be changed but twice a year.
  5. Andi

    Andi Songster

    I agree that you'll find that the chickens will discover it's a fun place to scratch everything out of. It will be an endless battle and a mess once the chickens have everything mixed up.

    If flies are the problem use DE (diatomatous earth). When I first started using it it wasn't working. What I discovered is I wasn't using enough or frequently enough. What it does is it dries up the poo and the sharp exoskeletons that are in the DE cut up the bodies of the fly larvae and kills them. I discovered that it also helps on keeping down odor.

    The way I use it is I do a light dusting over everything once a week and put a small quantity in their food (the package recommends only 2%). The more chickens you have the more you'll need to accomplish the same thing. At the least you could occasionally go out and just sprinkle it on their poo. I make sure I get some into the spot in the run that they do their dust bathing, too, because it naturally will treat lice and other insects that irritate chickens' skin. I've read that it works to treat internal parasites as well.

    Here's a link to a site I discovered when I was first learning about DE.

    Oh, one other thing. I think you'd have a difficult time training the chickens to only go poo in the box. You'd still have poo everywhere else.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  6. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    If you are going to use an organic "deep litter" type of material in the run, don't use shavings or straw. Both of these will make a mucky mess and smell anyway. I would highly recommend the use of wood chip (like from tree trimmings), and leaf litter. They will LOVE to dig around in this stuff and it won't smell. I don't even use DE or lime in my run, and it rains a LOT here. I've never noticed a fly problem here. The problem, as others have mentioned, is keeping this separate from the sand area--you would need a quite high barrier, as they can really make it fly when they get into it. But I think you would like the material if you tried it. I change out their run litter twice a year and add new chip or leaves on a regular basis.

    ETA--if you throw the scratch out, and scuff it in, it will keep them busy all day!
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010

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