How to start Deep Litter method in new coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by BrushyHillGuide, Apr 27, 2016.

  1. BrushyHillGuide

    BrushyHillGuide Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 17, 2015
    How do we start the deep litter method in a new coop? I'm about to move our chickens into the new coop and we want to do the deep litter thing. After some research I'm thinking about putting down a 2" deep layer of fine wood shavings (I heard they decompose faster than the big flakes) and then top that with 2" of large flakes. Is this the right way to go about starting out? Is there anything else I need to do prior to move-in, in terms of the litter?
     
  2. polock

    polock Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 14, 2015
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    I am new and starting it as wel. I just put about 4 inches of horse pine shavings in the coop. I figure I'll add in some leaves or other stuff if it doesn't decompose well. I am just going to turn it often with a pitch fork. Should work fine as my ventilation is more than enough [​IMG]
     
  3. BrushyHillGuide

    BrushyHillGuide Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 17, 2015

    Thanks! Since nobody else bothered to reply, I'm going to follow your lead but I'm going to put the small shavings on bottom and the bigger flakes on top. Total of 4" to start.

    I think I'm going to quit worrying about it. Our 4 laying hens have been living and producing in a chain link dog kennel with a tarp on top and nothing but dirt on bottom - for a year and a half. This new coop will be like moving into the Ritz Carlton after living in a worn out Motel 6. Lol. Only reason I've been worrying is that we invested in 19 more birds and I wanted to start them out right. But it's not rocket science, so I think I'm over-thinking it.

    Thanks for taking the time to reply!


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  4. flyin-lowe

    flyin-lowe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am a newbie too as of March 5th. I started my coop with a couple of inches of pine litter from rural king. I have a 6x8 coop and I put one of the packs in. I was surprised how far it went once the pack was opened. After about 2 weeks I raked up one bag of dried leaves from my fence row and threw them in and spread them around. About every three to four weeks I take about 5 minutes, rake some leaves, and throw them in. The first time I did it the hens were scared of the leaves and wouldn't go in. Now they love when I add them as they love scratching threw them. Luckily I have a lot of trees in my back yard so I have plenty of leaves to get me through until this fall when they drop again.

    So far I am pleased with this method. Simple, fast, cheap and no odor issues so far. Now that my run is down to dirt I have started throwing some grass clippings in there too after I mow. They love going through those also.
     
  5. 0wen

    0wen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 25, 2016
    Southwest Virginia
    You can start with a few inches of shavings - 4-6" or so to begin with. I have a pine shaving base but have dried leaves and dried pine needles mixed in. I also grow herbs for my chickens and will occasionally toss a handful of various herbs (lavender, marigold, basil, various mints, lemon balm, lemon thyme, cinnamon basil, lemon balm, jasmine bee balm, and some squash blossoms when I have them in the garden - sometimes some nasturtium, rose pedals and native flowers and plants - dandelion, clover blossoms) - the chickens dig around searching for the herbs to eat, which helps the bedding and they also put a nice scent in the coop and nesting boxes (although with DLM you shouldn't have a bad odor) - the various herbs and flowers have various nutritional benefits as well.

    I compost in my run, with a wood chip base and the same mix of pine needles, dried leaves, grass clippings, etc. Often, when it comes time to clean out the DLM in the coop, I add it to the run (either mix it into the run mix, or use it to replace what I may be removing from the run for garden needs). In the rare event that my run couldn't handle the DLM from the coop, I'd add it to my other compost bins, but with DLM only getting a couple of cleanings annually, this usually isn't an issue.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
  6. BrushyHillGuide

    BrushyHillGuide Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 17, 2015
    Thanks for the advice, y'all! I'm going to start adding some grass clippings periodically. We don't have trees that make collectable leaves and we don't have a garden (yet) but I'll try to see if I can find some aromatic native plants hidden in the thorny brush we have around here. Maybe we'll look at doing a small garden next year, with all the terrific compost we're going to have. I think the DLM will work good for us. I'm found to build them a covered dusting box outside the coop, with some great dusty dirt (which we have lots of) and diatomaceous earth. I read that the DE can kill some of the beneficial nematodes that the DL needs to compost properly.

    I'm still working on a few things before I begin moving the girls in. Hopefully I'll finish this weekend if it doesn't rain too much. I'll post some pix on move-in day.

    Thanks again, y'all!


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  7. Valleychickca

    Valleychickca Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 27, 2016
    Please do post pictcures and let me know what you ended up doing for your DLM. I'm just getting started, my eggs hatch in May, and we haven't built a coop yet. I'm very interested in the DLM. Like you I have minimal yard waste: dirt, redwood duff, and a small garden. No grass or leaves and a small Californian suburban back yard. Good luck to you!
     
  8. 0wen

    0wen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 25, 2016
    Southwest Virginia
  9. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    There are so many variables, I wouldn't even begin to offer advice unless I had more information.

    Deep litter inside an enclosed coop?
    What type of flooring?
    Square footage?
    How many birds?
    How much ventilation?

    Outdoors?
    Just add carbons (wood chips) to offset the nitrates from the chicken manure.
    Want more compost? add additional nitrogen.
    Very simple. If it starts to smell, get muddy, or flies, you need more carbons.

    I started my outdoor deep litter with 12-18 inches of free wood chips.
    Didn't do a thing for over 2 years, then just added more carbons.

    There is a wealth of information on this subject from this list.
    Grab a cup of coffee and use the search engine above [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.

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