How to get started with deep litter in my new run - assuming it's the best option?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by techiebabe, Feb 15, 2016.

  1. PatchtoTable

    PatchtoTable Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 16, 2016
    Brisbane, Australia
    My Coop
    If you don't over stock its much easier to manage. A few chickens in a large space and you can't go too wrong. Thats my tip
  2. calpal212

    calpal212 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 30, 2015
    Southern Colorado
    Yes, do not overstuff your birds! It can cause feather picking too unless they have their beaks trimmed (which most egg farms do)
  3. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2015
    SW Ohio
    I agree with everyone here saying not to over-think the deep litter. We use grass clipping and other garden debris during the summer, in fall we throw in leaves and pine needles that we rake up. We also add straw and used pine shavings from the coop. There is a bale of hay (from fall decorations) in there right now that the hens have been playing on this winter that is getting strewn around. Their dust bath is in a old galvanized tub, it's filled with wood ash & peat moss. It gets thrown around and mixed in. We just add what we have at the time. The hens usually keep things stirred up but is the rain/snow blows in, we fluff it up with a stall fork. The poop fall to the bottom and decomposes. There is no odor or flies.

    We'll clean all that wonderful compost out this spring to mix into the garden soil and start over. It breaks down into a shredded topsoil type material.

    With that all said, we have 6 chickens in a 8' x 16' covered run. I don't know what experiences others have with a small chicken-to-run ratio or uncovered run.
  4. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    You have to ask yourself exactly what you want to accomplish.

    To make compost, you need "greens" nitrogen rich, and "browns" carbon rich.

    You want easy manure management?

    Manure is nitrogen rich.

    I started my run with 12-18 inches of wood chips "browns" very high carbon rich.

    After about 2 1/2 years, I added some more, keeping the level to at least to 10 inches.

    No smell, mud, or flies.

    This is easy manure management...

    Always add browns in greater ratios than greens. Let nature takes care of the rest.

    Your coop run will smell like a forest floor.
  5. techiebabe

    techiebabe Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 20, 2016
    London, UK
    Eek! So I fell asleep while responding (hey, it was quite late :))

    Here I am to give a response to the rest of you and an update.

    I believe it's only polite to reply to everyone who took time to comment, I appreciate each of you!

    Rest of the replies coming up :D
  6. techiebabe

    techiebabe Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 20, 2016
    London, UK
    OK! So I apologise if I don't name the other awesome people who have commented, but I'm getting tangled up in this thread!


    I'm understanding that deep litter doesnt need to be complicated and maybe Im over thinking it? That is really valuable advice, thank you all, I'll try to relax more and take it easy.

    I really do appreciate your thoughts, and taking the time to comment.

    I guess in a few months I'll look back and go "doh what was the fuss about, it's so obvious" but right now as a newbie who wants to do the best for her hens, each choice seems quite significant... so, I hope in years to come I too have the patience for newbies that you have shown. Thank you.

    For what it's worth I'd still appreciate more advice at this stage!!
  7. techiebabe

    techiebabe Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 20, 2016
    London, UK
    RonP and others, HI!

    Hi, I realise that the deep litter needs to be a mix and it will always be a compost heap, albeit a cold one. Thanks to absolutely everyone who has read and/or commented. I'm starting to feel less alone and less that I will upset my lovely hens...


    So! Affter all your advice - and some help I've received locally, however good or random - this is where I'm at.

    In a final request on this topic I'd really appreciate it if anyone reading could comment. Even if you don't think you have much to say! Who knows what piece of info you might hold, the final jigsaw piece!

    So in summary... If you have time to comment... Please do, any view would be so much appreciated. Thanks.

    Here's what I've managed to secure so far, for my run which is 8m2. Also note my run is against a fence and has a sloped roof, so shouldn't be particularly damp.

    * 2 x 90 litre bags of bark - I know bark can get damp and mould so isn't recommended for chicken runs, but I'm thinking it will be spread quite widely and so better than nothing... I've had bags of the same stuff on my tiny garden, which broke down over time, so I don't foresee a problem as long as it's mixed in with loads of other, dry stuff. (Famous last words...)

    * Wood ash - I appealed locally and was offered several bin bags full! Initially it was wanted just to mix with sand in my dust bath, but hey! Now I'll have plenty spare to provide a basic layer in my run. And I figur

    * Straw - I wasn't majorly keen on straw but a kind man gave me two large bags of chopped barley straw, dust removed, ready for small animals, so that's fantastic and I'm very grateful to have it to sop up any damp in the run. I'll use that before I decide whether to use regular straw again (I'm thinking I'm more likely to use the softer bedding from the nest boxes).

    * Woodchips - these are the mainstay of my run. In an ideal world, I'd place 2 inches of woodchips thru the whole 8m2. But woodchips cost money (as they have a saleable value) so... I've been able to source some quite affordably as a one-off, and will collect asap. While I'm sure I could always have more (even if I filled my entire car) I'm extremely grateful and will be making a donation to the supplier. Once I see how many woodchips I've collected, I'll know how hard it will be to populate the rest of the run with natural litter.

    I'm in east London. I'll likely reproduce this post in my own blog, so it reaches people near me who can help!

    But aside from wanting more help, more donations to line my run (and thank you So MUCH if you can help, no matter how little or large) I will be hoping others see this and get an idea of what's involved.

    And my East London neighbours and friends, yes, there will be eggs in due course...!

    Thanks again to all Backyard Chicken Folk for your help in this thread. I'm still not out of the woods and would always appreciate your kind comments and advice on getting deep litter up and running! Loads of Clucks to you all!
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Bark should be they have companies that trim trees away from power lines around where you live?
    That's usually where folks get free loads of 'wood chips'...around here most places have to pay to dump them somewhere so are glad to dump it in your yard.
  9. Gridguru

    Gridguru Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 30, 2016
    Dallas, TX area.
    We literally have 100's of post oaks in our 1 acre yard. So we get a LOT of leaves in the fall. Is there any problem with loading up the run with them?

    I am thinking the chickens will enjoy finding the bugs and whatnot and will break them down into fine mulch over time.

  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    A mix of materials is best.
    Here's a great description of contents and how to manage organic 'bedding' in a run or coop...and there's a great video of what it looks like.

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