Deep litter

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by shmeggs, Dec 30, 2015.

  1. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    What kind of 'floor' do you have in the coop?

    Not sure you'd want a damp, truly composting deep litter on a wooden floor.....it would eventually rot it out.
    Would work better in a dirt floored coop, tho could/can effect the walls if too deep.

    I like to keep the coop and floor as dry as possible so use kilned dry pine shavings about 4-6" deep with a total change out once a year.
    But I use poop boards to collect night droppings, sifting them out every other day.
     
  2. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    I think you need to decide if you want "deep litter" or "deep bedding". In my limited experience, pine shavings will give a wonderful deep bedding but will not give you a true deep litter. I took everything out of my coop and run at the end of the first year. I was amazed, and a bit dismayed, to see that after a full year, even with adding other material to the litter, the pine shavings were still pretty much intact, even in the lower layers that were resting directly on the ground. They had broken down some around the waterer and around the edges of the run where rain and snow melt moistened it, but other than that after a year I had, well, pine shavings. Not true deep litter, but deep bedding. Nothing wrong with that - the girls loved it and did very well on it, but deep litter it ain't!

    I changed things up, following the advice of folks who have been doing this far longer than I have. @Beekissed has a really great handle on this deep litter stuff. So now I use lawn and garden waste, weeds, dried leaves complete with any little twigs that are in there, whatever I have on hand. If it's too dry, I give it a light mist, flip it, and add a little more green stuff. If it gets to damp, especially in those areas I mentioned before, I drag some of the damp into the drier areas and pull some of the dry over the damp areas, then give it a flip. I am very happy with the way everything is breaking down now.

    Right now, with sub zero temps, I am finding that the litter isn't working as well, so more carbon based materials are going in. I'm still learning as I go, but when I showed Bee the great earthy litter that was down in the lower layers she said that was just how I wanted it to look. So I'm closer now to true deep litter than I was before.
     
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  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Good description by Blooie above for the difference of deep litter(moist) and deep bedding(dry).
    It's hard thing to delineate what with all the terms that folks use....and misuse.

    You can 'compost' continually.... or later.
    I use deep bedding, bone dry, and compost it when doing the annual change out by soaking it with water in a compost cage.

    Here's a great description by Beekissed of contents and how to manage organic 'bedding' in a run or coop...and there's a great video of what it looks like.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1037998/muddy-run-help-please#post_16017992
     
  4. shmeggs

    shmeggs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So you are saying I can use pine shavings 6 inches deep on a dirt floor and it works great. I have a dirt floor now but thinking of adding a wood floor. If I stay with dirt floor and use pine shavings 6 inches deep will they stay dry and absorb moisture if there is any
     
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    I can't tell you what to do as far as a floor goes. I know that many folks use a wood floor covered with linoleum or Black Jack, then do deep litter on that. My floors in my coop and run are dirt. I deliberately decided on that from the start, because part of what helps break down the litter are the worms and little bugs, plus microbes in the soil. When I did the clean out and started over to get true deep litter, I even threw several shovels full of dirt on top. The girls scratched that down into the material. I don't know if it will make a huge difference, but I figured a jump start couldn't hurt!

    But I will say that pine shavings, while absorbent and pleasant to smell, just don't break down that well, even on straight dirt. It also gives the girls a nice place to snuggle down when it's cold, and provides a soft landing when they fly off the roost. I liked using pine shavings about 6" deep a lot. But I wasn't getting the breaking down I wanted, so I switched. I still scatter a little pine shavings in my litter, not much, because it provides air spaces that keep the leaves, etc from packing down too hard. The breakdown of litter also depends on air flow in it. much they way we turn compost heaps periodically.

    I would encourage you to look at the video @aart directed you to if you haven't already. You can use pine shavings very successfully in your set-up, so if that's what you decide to do I don't think you'll be disappointed. I just wanted a better breakdown of material and droppings than I was seeing with straight pine shavings.
     
  6. audioguy

    audioguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Deep method is the best. I have anywhere from 4 to 8 girls and use up to 8 inches of pine bedding I get from TSC. Lasts up to a year and I have a poop deck for them when they roost.
     
  7. shmeggs

    shmeggs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the advice I'm heading to TSC tonight and get pine shavings
     
  8. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I do deep bedding in my 5x7' wood floor coop. I house 8 birds and utilize a droppings board. The bedding remains VERY dry. I put a fresh bag in the coop in April and changed it out in October but it really didn't need it. I *might* need to change it again come May. If I do, some of it will go in my deep litter run. Some will go straight to compost. I will say that since starting deep litter in the run, my idea of what constitutes "dirty" litter has changed.
     
  9. VH Chicken Farm

    VH Chicken Farm Out Of The Brooder

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    We use fine wood shavings from a local sawmill, and we put about 8 inches deep and it works very well (much better than pine shavings). Every weekend we have the ability to turn it over with a flat scoop shovel to refresh it, and we leave it piled high to give the chickens something to do in the coop during winter, and they also like to peck around and scratch in it. We used to use pine shavings and we have found with out a doubt that the fine wood shavings are better and much more absorbent. One other thing we found when we turn it over the birds really enjoy dust bathing in it, especially during winter.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I was doing 6 month coop change outs at first, then this spring decided to not change it out and let it go 12 months....it worked out fine.
    Also stir thing up myself by pushing the shavings out of the way instead of walking on them to fill the feed and water every day,
    and moving them even more every other day when I sift the boards, I think that helps keep them working better....
    .....and tossing some BOSS all over on nasty days, let the birds stir things up too.
     

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