How to know if my deep liter method coop is working.

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by benchguy57, Aug 12, 2014.

  1. benchguy57

    benchguy57 Hatching

    Aug 8, 2014
    St. Louis
    if this is the wrong spot for this thread please move.

    I am very new to raising chickens, I bought a coop and 6 chickens from a guy down the street from me, the coop is set up for deep litter and I like it so far, but want to know how can you tell it's working or not working??
    Do I need to add water to the bedding?
  2. ECBW

    ECBW Songster

    Apr 12, 2011
    Never heard of adding water to bedding material.

    If you are like me in terms of setup, a hybrid is probably the way to go. I sort of "deep litter" but take it out when it is more poop than bedding material and compost it in a separate compost pile. Never add water intentionally.

    Farmers in my area use true deep litter where they clean once or twice a year. You can imagine the aroma!!!!
  3. threescompany

    threescompany Songster

    Aug 3, 2014

    I thought if deep litter worked it did not smell bad?
  4. DaveOmak

    DaveOmak Songster

    May 18, 2013
    Omak, Washington
    My Coop
    I'm picking up the poop I can see on the shavings.... Takes 2 minutes every other day.... DO NOT WATER IT... the poop will dehydrate and not smell.... what poop is there will grow organisms and create an environment that will create antibodies to certain diseases... Supposedly, never changing it out will grow an environment that will protect the flock..... You coop needs great ventilation for all this stuff to work...
    All this good stuff should take a year or two, from what I've read....
    Read up on it from the experts....
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2014
  5. cstronks

    cstronks Songster

    Mar 12, 2013
    New Jersey
    Correct deep litter shouldn't really smell awful. Chicken waste will dehydrate and the smell will cease. I am not sure about the antibodies or science behind that, but the key advantage with deep litter (in my opinion) is that it creates warmth. Most chicken owners start anew in the spring and begin piling the bedding on. Every time a change is needed, new bedding is added. Water is never added, as that will create a wet soggy mess, and likely produce an awful smell. The bedding piles up through the spring, summer, and fall, and can reach heights of 2, 3, or 4 feet depending on your coop setup. This way, there is a ton of bedding in the coop by the time winter rolls around. The bedding takes up square footage inside the coop and leaves a smaller area to heat as more is added. Essentially, it raises the floor level of the coop and makes the warm area even smaller. It also helps that it pushes the birds up as the bedding grows, and as we all know, heat rises. Some people will say that deep litter is the lazy way out, as it only needs to be changed once a year if done correctly, however it truly is a useful way to create a warmer environment for your chickens throughout the winter. Personally, I have never done it, but many homesteaders in my area have, and they get good results. Best of luck with whatever method you choose.
  6. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Songster

    May 18, 2012
    Northern Virginia
    My Coop
    I learned a lot about deep litter from an excellent BYC thread where a poster gives us not only how they did it but what the results were after a year. The thread can be found here >

    I've been doing it for several years and love it. I clean it out during the spring/summer and throw the litter in the compost for the garden, then begin again. The concept is that - done correctly - deep litter will break down much like your compost pile will. You continuously add pine shavings, leaves, shredded newspaper, any type of organic bedding material [except straw as it takes so long to break down and can get nasty] and the microbes and little critters attracted to such will cause it to break down. While you continuously add stuff, it's also being broken down into smaller bits. I bag shredded leaves every fall and add them continuously throughout the winter.

    It's not the amount of litter that you add that helps warm things up, it's the composting action within the litter that generates heat. Just like your compost pile will be a bit warm when you shove your hand in it, good deep litter will do the same thing.

    Done correctly, deep litter doesn't smell. You need to keep adding organic material to prevent smell. And, yes, sometimes it can get too dry and that will cause the composting action to slow down just like your outdoor compost pile. That rarely happens as usually the chicken poo will supply adequate moisture and the litter will even take moisture from the air but - if you've a large coop with few chickens and are having a dry spell - it can get so dry that you'll kick up dust just walking in the door. When it gets like that I'll give it a little sprinkling from a gardening can, just a tiny amount to pull the dust down and get the compost rolling again.

    Deep litter works best on a coop with a dirt floor. Mine isn't dirt so I inoculate my coop with a few buckets of dirt from our woods every year. That dirt has all the leaf and debris eating critters and microbes in it and they get to work digesting the litter and poo.

    It's a little work to get it rolling correctly but once you've invested that time and energy, deep litter is self-sufficient. Take a peek at that thread I mentioned above as I learned a lot. Good luck!
  7. Linda6885

    Linda6885 Hatching

    Aug 13, 2014
    Quote:We are also new to raising 'backyard chickens'. I have great memories from my childhood of collecting the eggs every day. I chose deep litter method for our stationary chicken coop because the poop dries out on top of the litter, falls to the bottom, (you can help this process by turning the litter with a pitch fork,) this then start to biodegrade and produces heat. Just like a compost heap does. We have cold winters here in Wisconsin. We want to make use of all the heat we can get without having to use a heater. And as far as everything I have read on this subject, it will not smell, if you have enough litter. I have pine and ceder chips under their perching station in one corner of the coop. Then there is some pine on the bottom then at least foot deep straw on top in the rest of the coop. Over the winter, I will add some straw as even with turning, the straw gets padded down. The chickens do a lot of the turning themselves, because they do what chickens do. We love watching our girls. Since we have many predatores, they also have a large enclosed pen for play. We eagerly await getting our first pretty eggs from our 'easter eggers'.
  8. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Songster

    May 18, 2012
    Northern Virginia
    My Coop

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