Everything about bedding?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by r709shackleford, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. r709shackleford

    r709shackleford Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 11, 2012
    Southcentral Alaska
    I am new to chicken keeping....so

    What is DE? I saw many references to it?
    For those people referring to the deep method? How deep is deep? No one even mentions a depth?
    As far as poop boards are concerned; how often do you clean them? Would you recommend them?
    Lastly, everyone talks about using pine chips. What about chips from other shreded trees such as Birch, Willow, Pine, Cottonwood etc? And do these have to be fully dried before use? I know for landscaping/gardening purposes it is not recommended using wet/unseasoned wood chips because it robs the ground from oxygen as the chips break down.

    Currently I use straw. About 4-6 inches of it. But I have a big coop with about 10 normal sized chickens and about 15-20 bantams. The hay gets packed very quickly. I am trying to figure out a new method for bedding. Too much dust, smell and poop to clean now. I'm in Alaska if that helps anything. Everything is expensive here.

    Just curious

  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Check out the links in the second post here for plenty of information about deep litter and DE. DE is expensive and usually has to be mail ordered. Personally I wouldn't waste my money. It hasn't been actually proven to do much but dry things out, and help control bugs in feed. If you want to add something to your litter for odor or moisture, horse products like Stall-Dri work fine, and agrcultural pelletized lime is great. I have an 11x17 coop and use about two handfuls at a time; I'm still working on a bag I bought about 3 years ago. I feel the pelletized is kinder to their feet, and of course it's not dusty. Lawn lime is harmful; it needs to be the ag kind.

    Yes, other woods besides pine are fine, though cedar is frowned upon by many, and I wouldn't use much of it if it had much cedar aroma. Even pine aroma can be irritating to their resp, tract if it's heavy enough. And yes, it should be dry. I buy pine shavings (kiln dried) and hay. Dried leaves are good, too, if they happen to be convenient for you. Shredded paper, other plant materials like rice hulls -- people use all sorts of stuff, whatever they can get cheap.

    I keep maybe 4" in my coop, deeper under the roosts, and rake it all out yearly. I use some pelletized lime on it if it gets smelly; it doesn't take much, but my coop is probably much more well ventilated than yours (because our climates are so different,) as it's almost open air on one side. I don't bother with a poop board, I just sprinkle a little scratch under the roosts so they turn the litter. Lots of folks do, though, and you might benefit from one in your climate. I think most people scrape them off every day, or at least 2 or 3 times a week.

    Chickens do make a lot of dust, but they shouldn't really be smelly. A few handfuls of pine shavings and/or lime solve the problem if I notice an odor. I am wondering if you have enough ventilation. Here is our classic article on the subject, written by a Canadian:


    And just for good measure, the same author's article on cold weather coops


    Good luck!
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
    1 person likes this.

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