Deep Litter question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by perchie.girl, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    Hi I am new to BYC and have been reading about Deep Litter for coops.

    I am in the process of rebuilding my coop it will be 24 x 18 when I am done. Since I plan to have fifty or sixty chickens and guineas in a very large coop on the ground it makes sense to do Deep litter. I absolutely love Rice hulls for the horse and want to do deep litter for the chickens with them. This way I wont have to do two different products.

    I guess the question I have is how deep do I make the litter to start with.

    thanks in advance for any info

    deb "in the San Diego high desert"
     
  2. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Start with four inches. Plan the chicken door and people door with bottom openings six inches above the floor, or build in semi-permanent barriers you can remove when it's time to muck out the coop twice a year. Otherwise, the bedding will be coming out those doorways every time they are opened.

    I didn't plan correctly for my chicken pop door, so I put a 4 inch barrier back a few inches and the chickens just hop over it and down to the real floor, then come out their doorway. Some litter still escapes, but at least it isn't a constant pour out through that pop door!
     
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Quote:I agree with gryeyes. Also important is to prevent water from leaking in around the walls of the coop (that was my problem), which will get the shavings moldy.

    I can't use the deep litter method in my metal shed coop anymore due to the water leaking in.
     
  4. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    Quote:I agree with gryeyes. Also important is to prevent water from leaking in around the walls of the coop (that was my problem), which will get the shavings moldy.

    I can't use the deep litter method in my metal shed coop anymore due to the water leaking in.

    Four inches sounds good. I can make a barrier with some garden edging and maybe stack some stepping stones in front of the chicken door. Ooh i have some I never used from another project...

    Moisture isnt a problem here in the High Desert we get a total of about 7 inches of rain per year. Though Rice hulls are especially good for moisture because they are naturally water repellent. Which is the reason I use it for horse bedding. If its chicken friendly I also want to put in a dusting of lime on the ground first as well. Since this was the site of the previous smaller coop. The only way to keep moisture out completely would be to Raise it up off the ground and I am not equipped to build a floor. Only me myself and I for construction projects... VBG [​IMG]
     
  5. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Some folks do use rice hulls for bedding and love it. I use pine shavings.

    The feed store people I trust and respect would be glad to sell me rice hulls, because they have it, but said I wouldn't like it as much if I was really doing the deep litter method. Apparently the rice hulls aren't as absorbent as the pine shavings, and I would be spending more time scooping poop out of it instead of just adding more shavings and letting the chickens mix it up.

    So I am sticking with pine shavings.
     
  6. darkmatter

    darkmatter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 10, 2009
    perchie.girl :

    Hi I am new to BYC and have been reading about Deep Litter for coops.

    I am in the process of rebuilding my coop it will be 24 x 18 when I am done. Since I plan to have fifty or sixty chickens and guineas in a very large coop on the ground it makes sense to do Deep litter. I absolutely love Rice hulls for the horse and want to do deep litter for the chickens with them. This way I wont have to do two different products.

    I guess the question I have is how deep do I make the litter to start with.

    thanks in advance for any info

    deb "in the San Diego high desert"

    See my BYC page for my Coop with Deep Litter that has been in use for nearly two decades with up to fifty or so chickens at times. (I rarely count exactly) I do recommend that to have an effective deep litter composting management process, you have to have a sub-ground level dirt floor. I built my coop on a brick foundation I laid up myself after digging the trench. (forgive my bricklaying skills, I have none)

    P.S. My litter gets up to 18" deep and I only clean it out in the spring for the garden.​
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2011
  7. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    Quote:See my BYC page for my Coop with Deep Litter that has been in use for nearly two decades with up to fifty or so chickens at times. (I rarely count exactly) I do recommend that to have an effective deep litter composting management process, you have to have a sub-ground level dirt floor. I built my coop on a brick foundation I laid up myself after digging the trench. (forgive my bricklaying skills, I have none)

    P.S. My litter gets up to 18" deep and I only clean it out in the spring for the garden.

    Oooh I saw your page very very nice place you have there. Maybe Deep litter isnt for me? I dont have real dirt. Not like you have. My land is high desert and 100 percent decomposed Granite. Which is hard as a rock litterally topsoil I have only seen in photos or at the nursery where you buy it by the bag. The only way to dig below ground is to use a Jack hammer or blasting powder... [​IMG] Surprisingly though it perks water through as if you were pouring it down the drain. I had a leak in my 3000 gallon water tank that drained it in 3 days without ever seeing any water running off.

    I also dont have trees or grass or lush growing things to leave leaf litter around for using as part of the compost. I dont believe in growing a lawn in this climate though I do love them. So I may be doomed for failure but I will give it a try anyway. At least this way I may have a start on some soil for growing a few things up here. Oh and that once a year thing is really attractive. I have a four legged tractor for hauling to the compost pile.

    deb
     
  8. darkmatter

    darkmatter Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,181
    35
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    Jul 10, 2009
    perchie.girl :

    Quote:See my BYC page for my Coop with Deep Litter that has been in use for nearly two decades with up to fifty or so chickens at times. (I rarely count exactly) I do recommend that to have an effective deep litter composting management process, you have to have a sub-ground level dirt floor. I built my coop on a brick foundation I laid up myself after digging the trench. (forgive my bricklaying skills, I have none)

    P.S. My litter gets up to 18" deep and I only clean it out in the spring for the garden.

    Oooh I saw your page very very nice place you have there. Maybe Deep litter isnt for me? I dont have real dirt. Not like you have. My land is high desert and 100 percent decomposed Granite. Which is hard as a rock litterally topsoil I have only seen in photos or at the nursery where you buy it by the bag. The only way to dig below ground is to use a Jack hammer or blasting powder... [​IMG] Surprisingly though it perks water through as if you were pouring it down the drain. I had a leak in my 3000 gallon water tank that drained it in 3 days without ever seeing any water running off.

    I also dont have trees or grass or lush growing things to leave leaf litter around for using as part of the compost. I dont believe in growing a lawn in this climate though I do love them. So I may be doomed for failure but I will give it a try anyway. At least this way I may have a start on some soil for growing a few things up here. Oh and that once a year thing is really attractive. I have a four legged tractor for hauling to the compost pile.

    deb​

    If you can't dig a sub-floor, then raise the Coop. Can you elevate the foundation? Sounds like you have rock laying around, build a rock or cinder-block foundation that you step up rather then my step down. Should work just as well. As for the water perking down easy-----once the organic decomposed material builds up, that will reduce/stop the down perk. Or you can add a bottom layer of benitolite clay to seal the soil. (Benitolite clay is used by farmers to seal ponds, or you can go the cheap route and toss some clay cat litter in, it's the same stuff.)
     
  9. Chicklette 1

    Chicklette 1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Kentucky
    I'm fairly new also and I decided on the deep litter method which has worked very well for me this year. The only complaint that I have is the dust. I've used pine shavings and just keep adding every once in a while when I think it is not quite deep enough. I also mixed in a little of the DE and every thing seems to keep dry and odor free. However, I think I am going to try putting sand in the coop and pen because of the dust. The dust is not good for us or for the chickens. Either way, cleaning with a litter scoop works great and most of the poop seems to break down.
     
  10. darkmatter

    darkmatter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Dust? My deep litter Compost is slightly moist, contact with the soil seems to keep it that way. I have in the past dumped water into the deep litter in the winter to start off the composting process. There is no smell or dust with the traditional deep litter composting process, this has been done since ancient times by European farmers in their barns. Dust means too dry, Ammonia smell means not enough oxygen. Tossing scratch onto the deep litter has the chickens mixing it up for you. An occasional forking with a spading fork I have found necessary in the winter when I've had to leave the chickens "Cooped up" due to snow/blizzards.
     

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