Getting mixed up...deep litter

Sunny Day

In the Brooder
12 Years
Mar 27, 2007
I guess maybe I'm confused (still) on this deep litter method. If I do things that way, does that apply to under the roosts too? Or do I need to shovel that mess out all the time? Do I just throw more litter down? Do I need to stir it up? Will it be smelly?

My little ones are only days old, but the coop is almost done. I'm hoping I planned well enough. I was thinking I'd lay a couple inches of bedding inside the house (including under the roost), stir and that's about it. Do I need to put anything on the ground outside? (It's that Georgia clay). I thought I could put the pine mulch I can get for free, if it doesn't hurt little feet. (That's fresh stuff, so maybe it won't be absorbent enough for indoors?)

Thanks for helping straighten out my thinking.

Poison Ivy

12 Years
May 2, 2007
Naples, Florida
I use sand under my roosts and scoop it every morning like a giant litter box and the rest of the coop is cover with coastal hay. I only have to add sand every 3 months or so as it gets low. The hay I replace 3 or 4 times a year. It don't get very dirty I really like the sand under the roosts though it makes for quick clean up in the mornings.


12 Years
May 8, 2007
We are getting ready to get chickens again, after not having them for a few years. We'll be using deep litter again, because it worked so well for us before.

I used pine shavings for litter. The roosts were just open over the litter. I kept a compressed bale of shavings in the corner of the coop, with a scoop. The coop didn't normally smell. Any time it ever had a faint odor of ammonia, I knew the litter was out of balance and needed more carbon, so I would sprinkle some shavings. Under the roosts, I sprinkled some shavings whenever it looked like it needed it. Once or twice a year I shoveled the litter out and took it to the garden.

I think one of the keys to the success or failure of the deep litter system, is how much space you've allowed per chicken. I've read, recently, that with 3 square feet per bird, you'll have a lot of caking of the droppings on the surface of the litter, which need to be broken up and stirred in. With 4, you'll get some caking and with 5, you shouldn't have any. I know that after subtracting for the feeder, waterer, oyster shell container, nest boxes and storage area, we were at 5 square feet per bird. I never had to manually stir the litter. Just the scratching of the chickens was enough. If a person has a more crowded coop, then I think they start needing to do more frequent chores, breaking up surface clumps, cleaning under the roosts, using a dropping pit or dropping board under the roosts, etc.

I hope this helps.


10 Years
May 16, 2009
I'm wondering if I can use paper shavings in addition to the wood shavings...I use a paper shredder for my mail and usually recycle, but if I could use it for the chickens, I would...Thanks!


Prairie Wolf Farm Asylum
10 Years
Feb 12, 2009
NE Kansas
I do sort of a modified deep litter method. I use pine shavings everywhere. If I happen to see a great wad of poo, I scoop it, but mostly just occasionally stir it up. I have also started sprinkling Stall Dry on it. When it looks a bit dirty, I rake the whole thing out and start fresh. That seems to happen every few months, as I don't like it to get too gross. Also, if my run is muddy from too much rain, I'll rake out some shavings into it, sprinkle Stall Dry onto it, and it helps dry it up.


11 Years
Feb 25, 2009
I am interested in the feasibility of using shredded paper as a deep litter method, as well. Has anyone used that? Does it pose a threat to their legs (paper cuts, etc)? Would love to hear more! Thanks!


Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
Ontario, Canada
You can try shredded paper. Make sure it doesn't get moldy, as it is more susceptible than shavings. From my experience with it in horse stalls I would be skeptical you'd like the results of trying long-term shredded paper litter, as in horse stalls it tends to form an especially horrible form of paper-mache... but, why not try it and see what it does for you.

They're not going to get paper cuts from it

Have fun,


just a dozen

In the Brooder
9 Years
Apr 8, 2010
This is the first time raising chickens can I use sand in my coop and do the deep litter method or do i need to mix it with something else?I have a 12x8 foot coop and approx 12x 20 outside fenced in area.

Coos NH

In the Brooder
8 Years
Jul 26, 2011
I used the deep liter method as described here on BYC and have been doing so for a few months now. I have not cleaned the coop, we havent needed to. I use wood pellets and have great success. No smell and no mess. Thanks BYC, you made our chicken experience very easy, so easy we are going to stick with it.... lol


8 Years
Apr 11, 2011
Shapleigh, Maine
Quote:I tried shredder paper when my hens were chicks. They'd poo, it would stick to the paper, then they'd walk in it and they would have a big paper mache poop stuck to their feet! It wasn't even worth it to me.

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