Don't think I'm doing deep litter method right. Advice?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Soldier415, Sep 30, 2015.

  1. Soldier415

    Soldier415 New Egg

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    I have 6 chickens in a small coop/tractor which is built on top of a standard lawn tractor dump cart, with the litter being down in the cart portion. It has an enclosed run attached.

    I have seen a lot of pictures of deep litter coop floors and all have a thick layer underneath the top layer of shavings.

    The litter has been in for a few months and I mix it up weekly but it always stays dry and loose instead of packed.

    However, even though the litter (pine shavings) is dry, there keeps being a smell of ammonia. I am now 6-7 inches deep on the litter and running out of room to add more.

    I'm sure there is something I am missing. Should I remove all but an inch or two and start again? I'm in New England and winter is coming, wanted to do deep litter so the biomass will provide some heat.
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    What is the cart made of? Metal? If so, I fear that your DL will eat through the metal before you get a good composting action going. Chicken poop is very caustic. Here's my suggestion to you: If you are in the snow belt, you'll not be moving that tractor much anyways during the winter. Is it permanently attached to the cart? If you could remove it, and set it on a frame made of 2 x 8, you could then have bare soil to feed the DL. Most successful DL situations work on bare soil. I tried it in my coop last year (plywood floor overlaid with rolled vinyl) and it was a dismal failure. Between the freezing and the ammonia when it was not freezing, in spite of adding compost, soil, and leaf litter from the garden. It just didn't work. Also, I think that shavings are so heavy on the carbon that it takes them a very long time to break down. Can you add some lawn clippings and leaves to your mix???
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    It's not a bedding problem, it's a space problem. You have too many birds in too small a space. You either need coop addition or chicken math subtraction.
     
  4. lindalouly

    lindalouly Grd Ctrl 2 Major Tom

    The only thing I can think is space and ventilation... I don't mix my deep litter pile but I do change it out more often then most and add it to my compost. I also still have a poop board for inside the coop I clean often and the deep litter is for under the coop with free ranging birds. So it is in open space. If you are smelling ammonia you got to switch it out. Good luck with your flock and keep us updated.
     
  5. Soldier415

    Soldier415 New Egg

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    They spend 80% of their day free ranging around the property, the other 10% in the run and are really only in the coop at night
     
  6. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    But they do 80% of their pooping at night. ;)
     
  7. Soldier415

    Soldier415 New Egg

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    Looks like I will just have to change the litter out if DL doesn't work with metal floors
     
  8. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome to BYC.
    With the metal garden cart being off the ground I don't think the biomass will keep going through the cold winter. Too much heat loss for too little mass. So yes I think you will just have to change the littter more often then a true deep litter. A deep litter should work on metal, the first drum composters were metal.
     
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    yes, it will work in/on metal, until it eats through it.
     
  10. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Deep litter needs contact with the ground in order for microbes to do the work, it won't work that way on a metal floor, and even in a real deep litter where the ground freezes all activities come to a halt through winter.
     
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