Dirt floor vs wood shavings for coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Shamo123, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. Shamo123

    Shamo123 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I currently am using the deep litter method in my coop and i notice a strong ammonia smell when I'm in the coop sometimes (only in the winter) even when turning over the wood shavings regularly

    Would taking out the shavings and replacing it with a few inches of dirt sort this out?
     
  2. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    Yes, I never liked the deep liter method from reading about it----never tried it---I like dry white sand over anything I have ever used---but its heavy compared to shavings---I have a screening turmel I made to sift the poop out the sand----helped a lot. Last time I went back to the big pine chips---Its easier and its according to how many chickens you got on how often you have to change it but your nose will tell you when its time.
     
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  3. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We use wood shavings (pine flakes) in our coop and never have had an ammonia odor problem. We do have a poop board filled with PDZ under the roost that gets sifted out everyday or so. The shavings get changed out twice a year.

    How deep are the shavings? Good ventilations? Is the water kept outside? Wet shavings stink. Number of chickens/size of coop?
     
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  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Would need more info, and some pics would help.
    You're not really supposed to turn a true composting deep litter.
    Climate, number of birds, size of coop, type of floor, ingredients of deep litter, all info could be pertinent.
    Can't offer a viable solution until we know just what the problem might be.
     
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  5. Shamo123

    Shamo123 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sand was one of the bedding choices i was considering but it just seems so difficult to work with, mainly due to weight. With dirt i could add a few inches to the coop and change out maybe once a year.



    The shavings are about 5 inch maybe when not compacted, no water in coop so no chance of any spills. About 19 chickens (slowly trying to cut down to about 8-9) and IIRC they have about 4-5ft of coop space per bird currently.

    I won't lie, there isn't much ventilation right now at night but during the morning/day the door is open to the run so there is ventilation. The real strange thing is that the ammonia smell is more obvious when the door is open and there is ventilation, my only guess as to why this is the case is that the coop is cooler during the day when the door is open so the shavings don't dry as quickly? I was thinking of adding a bathroom extractor fan to the coop but after some research on forums i realised this may not be a great idea


    Currently have about 19 birds in a 3.5m by 2.5m coop (will need to measure again to make sure) the weather has warmed slightly in the past week or so and the ammonia seems to have mellowed a little but still there, temperatures are currently at 5C lows and 10C highs. Floor under the shavings is solid concrete and bedding is just pine shavings, nothing else. I only turn the shavings to help them dry quicker, if i leave them compacted the ammonia smell increases but when i turn them over the smell does increase but starts to dissipate after a while
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  7. supersymmetry

    supersymmetry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As others have stated, you must have some venting!

    Deep bedding works on the principal of creating an environment for beneficial bacteria to break down your organic material into compost. The reason for the deepness of the bedding is to provide some moisture for the material to decompose.

    Deep bedding requires at least 12" of material, and its usually better if its more like 24". It is not possible to get compost with less material. If it's not composting you just have poop and carbon and that's what is creating harmful bacteria that produce ammonia.

    If you are concerned about thet smell you can always add a dusting of activated lime (while you build mass). There is tons of information on the web about composting, but essentially you want enough carbon to mix with your organic material, in the proper ratio. You can be really creative with finding sources of carbon: paper shredding places, cardboard, mulch, wood shavings, even straw. They all have different carbon ratios...

    Deep bedding should never smell like ammonia! Good luck!

    Here is a link with C:N ratios...

    http://www.homecompostingmadeeasy.com/carbonnitrogenratio.html
     
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  8. supersymmetry

    supersymmetry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'll also note, that for folks who live where its frozen 5+ months out of the year, deep litter composting is a god send. Your coop needs to be setup for it (so it won't rot), but properly setup, it never smells, and it makes the most wonderful compost. It takes some attention in getting it started, but after that its the lazy man's bedding of choice! We usually muck it out in the spring, and use it as starter compost for our home waste / garden waste compost pile (Which we use the previous years compost for in the garden!)
     
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  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  10. Shamo123

    Shamo123 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't think i could get it to 12 inches, is it pointless trying the deep litter method in this case then? I started it as i remember reading at least 1 article of someone doing it successfully with 6".

    I looked in to activated lime but all the warnings about it being caustic put me off.

    I want the easiest maintenance method so being a lazy man's choice of bedding of choice is very enticing. When you clean it out in spring, do you empty everything out or leave some in there to help compost the new layers of bedding?
     

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