Deep Litter

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Ray 434, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. Ray 434

    Ray 434 Hatching

    Mar 9, 2015
    I am new to both this forum and to raising chickens. I am retiring on 10 acres in central Saskatchewan and will have a small market garden, some chickens and guinea hens. In doing a little reading to set up for the chickens it seems that there are 2 fairly different approaches in terms of the chicken coop (I have an old building 200sq ft) deep litter vs constant cleaning. I did read Harvey Ussery's book on the subject of deep litter. Since I have no experience to fall back on I would be interested to know where others weigh in on these two approaches.

    Ray Derksen
  2. [​IMG]

    Welcome my Canadian comrade!

    How many birds are you raising?

    I go the deep litter way, using straw. I bed everyday. I rent a bobcat once a year for cleaning. Costs me 100$ for 2 days of cleaning. I find much faster and easier on your body.

    With deep you wont get that exposure for breakdown as you would with daily cleaning. Cleaning daily/weekly your exposing your littler to the summer heat which will speed the breakdown process and allow you to compost it much faster.

    Are they free range? that will help or not help on the amount of cleaning/bedding needed on a daily/weekly basis. Type of feed also will play a huge factor on which way you go.

    Trial and error my friend. You might have to try different methods to see what suits you and your set up best.

    Good luck!

    P.S. this is a great place to come, you'll love it here.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2015
  3. Ray 434

    Ray 434 Hatching

    Mar 9, 2015
    I will have 10 guineas and 10 chickens to start. I am planning on having them free range during the day. I will set up a large area around the coop with electric chicken netting. We have foxes, coyotes, badgers, raccoons, hawks and a few eagles so I do need to be able to have a secure area at night. I am also planning on having 2 great Pyrenees dogs. From what I read they will adopt a flock and are effective in keeping predators at bay. I also need the dogs to keep the deer and moose and rabbits out of the garden.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Nice, sounds like your going to have your self a good little side business going. We have been doing farmers markets for a while now (for our meats). Great way to sell your stuff. We use to market garden with a 1 acre garden. All Heirloom/heritage vege's, but starting a family ( I have 3 little ones) just barely leaves us enough time for the animals.

    Are you selling your meats at the farmers market?

    If you need any info feel free to send me a PM .
  5. Judy

    Judy Crowing

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Hi, I moved yoru thread to the correct forum.

    I would also go with deep litter, expecially for more than just a few birds. I think those who clean daily are usually people who keep only 3 or 4 hens. Although I have a pretty small flock, I use deep litter on a soil floor and clean once a year. The coop is large and very well ventilated, almost an open concept. It needs only the addition of a few bags of pine shavings and a few handfuls of pelletied lime during the year to keep it odor free. Scattering a little scratch or Black oil Sunflower seeds, or other treat, now and then keeps the litter turned.

    I'd like to offer a few links which I think you'll find helpful. The first two links in my signature line were written a few years ago by a Canadian member and have rather become classics here. Also, I feel this is a well written article on space and how it relates to management:
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2015
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    Don't forget weasels. Electronet is fantastic. I love mine. But, your coop needs to be secure at night, which means all possible openings secured with 1/2" hardware cloth. I absolutely love DL. My old coop was a cattle panel affair, with soil floor at bottom level, covered with DL. Top level was standard floor with pine shavings. The gals spent almost all of their time in lower level, and the poo just melted into the litter and soil. I used leaves and grass clippings, plus the occasional bale of hay, weeds, etc. My new coop is 10 x 12, standard construction with single sheet of vinyl flooring, painted walls. The flock moved in in November, and all I had was pine shavings. A bit of a thaw in December allowed me to scrape up some soil and compost from the garden, which was mixed in under the perches. With the days sometimes getting up above freezing now, the litter is starting to cook. My recommendation to you, if doing DL in standard coop: Protect floor and all exposed wood from the moisture and decomposition process, or they may become one with that DL! Possible ideas: Vinyl flooring, tarps, tarp type of grain bags stapled to the wall studs, scrap wood up at least 15" high at least under the perch area.
  7. Ray 434

    Ray 434 Hatching

    Mar 9, 2015
    Thanks for the input. I had not intended on raising birds for meat. The weasels do worry me as I have seen some around and they are able to squeeze through almost any crevice or opening. I haven't minded them until now because they controlled the mice and rats. I am hoping to use the guinea hens to keep the insect population down. I have also read that they will kill mice as well. W'ell see how it works out. The main crops that I will raise are specialty garlic, fingerling potatoes, goji berries and various medicinal herbs. The chickens are probably more of a hobby because I have the space and time. I was encouraged to read chickens are quite capable of adapting to winters as long as there is shelter and perhaps some minimal heat. Using deep litter does sound like the way to go. The building I am using was used for some livestock in the past.

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