Got a question about deep litter method

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by DawnB, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. DawnB

    DawnB Chirping

    Hi all...I'm very new to this chicken thing. Our flock is mixed with a couple ducks and a goose along with 15 chickens. They are actually in a temp shelter/run while we finish building our coop.

    I live in Northern MI and it can get EXTREMELY cold. I don't plan on having a heated coop, but am considering a deep litter method. Can you tell me, even with good ventilation, how's the smell? If it's stinky, I'll go light on the litter and just button up the drafts well. Also, I don't know if it's a good method when waterfowl are in the mix.





    NYREDS Crowing

    Jan 14, 2008
    Probably not a good idea withwaterfowl in the mix. They will splash a lot of water around & wet, deep litter smells bad & isn't a healthy environment for the birds or for you for that matter. I don't recommend keeping chickens & waterfowl together for that reason.
    Waterfowl need to be able to dip their heads in waterto keep themselves clean & to keep their nares clean. In this process they splash a lot of water around.
    Deep litter works very well with chickens. I wouldn't keep them any other way. Consider penning your waterfowl seperately.
  3. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Songster

    Jul 26, 2012
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I have ducks in with my chickens and use deep litter. I have no water in the coop, period. My coop is always open to the run, I have no door to shut. The ducks only come in the coop to eat and occasionally lay an egg. Other than that they sleep outside and hang out by the kiddie pool I keep for them. So, long answer short, my litter stays dry and not smelly!

  5. Daisy8s

    Daisy8s Songster

    Sep 12, 2011
    Central Michigan
    The deep litter method works extremely well, especially in cold weather (I'm in MI, too!) because it provides a deep pack that helps keep them off the ground. But, I agree you wouldn't want it getting as wet as ducks splashing would lead to.

    Here's how I do it in my coop. I clean out the coop in late March, leaving a few inches to "seed" the base with good microbes (I'm really composting as well as providing deep litter).

    During summer, when they're rarely in the coop, I add 3-4 inches of litter every 6-8 weeks, as needed due to smell. Inbetween adding fresh litter I use a rake to turn under fresh manure where it accumulates under the roost (a 2 minute job every few weeks). I also throw in kitchen scraps such as fruit and vegetable peelings (no meat or dairy) and let the chickens do the turning under for me--they turn the litter as they scratch.

    During winter, it's the same operation but a little more often since they're inside more (hence more manure accumulation), so I'm adding 3-4 inches every 4-6 weeks.

    I'm committed to a no-cost bedding solution to reduce the cost of keeping chickens so I use my own yard materials for bedding. I rake up dry leaves in the fall and bag them in those huge, tough black garbage bags intended for construction sites. In the summer I collect my grass as I mow it, spread it on a tarp to dry for about 2 days, and then bag it. Seven bags will easily get me through the year for a 6x5 ft coop. You have to be sure the material is totally dry or it will mold in the bag and then be useless.

    When I clean it out in the spring I have such a healthy compost pile going that I have found live earthworms living near the bottom! Visitors to my coop comment on how there is just no smell--no ammonia at all. But, I also have very good ventilation--the walls are open at the top where they meet the ceiling so air is constantly moving over their heads.

    I love this method for several reasons. 1. No poop removal duty. This is the least labor-required method I've ever experienced. 2. Free--uses materials from my yard. 3. Compost--wonderful stuff for my garden. 4. Happy birds--if I'm late letting them out in the morning they keep occupied scratching in the litter for some food scrap that might've been missed. 5. Warmer in winter--they're about 18-24 inches off the ground by January/Feb when it gets really cold.

    Good luck!
    1 person likes this.
  6. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Songster

    Jul 26, 2012
    I have been waiting for someone to post about grass and leaves. I started out here in missouri using dried grass but with the hot drought we had nothing was able to grow not even my lawn. So we mowed 3 times all season. We finally have grass that has shot up so we need a mowing but I had to result to buying straw, we liked it. It is not free for sure but if we get into a situation were we have no free materials that is the way to go. I havent ever used leaves before and really why not? It is obvious, if you use grass why not use leaves. I am going to bag some up this year.
    Also I think I will stop removing piled up poo under the roosts. I was taking out the big piles to a seperate compost pile because I also have turkey in there. What is it going to hurt. This is my first year using the deep litter so I am going trial and error really. How many inches of litter should you start out with?
  7. QueSeraSera

    QueSeraSera Hatching

    May 4, 2012
    1. Do you have concerns about mites or anything with the leaves? (we, too, have a ton of tall grass, but no bagging attachment on the tractor)

    2. Does this also work in a run? I have been doing what I thought was deep litter with my open-air coop/run, but they pile it all up against one side of the run and it ends up not being "deep" at all.

  8. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Songster

    Jul 26, 2012
    Mine has worked in the run. I have a few inches out there, but you really have to make sure you rake or fluff it once a week because it will get trampled into the ground and once that gets wet,,,,, oh goodness does it smell lol. That is if you were to remove the wet litter. I do because I dont want mold and I have my run covered so only small bits get wet. I also free range so that will also make a difference. Maybe if you try spreading treats in all areas of the run they wouldnt just scratch it to the one side. Chickens are creatures of habit and all flocks have their own habits so this may just be your flocks habits maybe what they consider fun..

    PS,, I have no bagging equipment either it is just myself and the kids raking
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012

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