Need help choosing (again...) bedding type

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ShortHenTallPen, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. ShortHenTallPen

    ShortHenTallPen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2015
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi everyone, I need help with our coop bedding. We are beginning our third year of chicken keeping and have definitely had ups and downs including an ILT outbreak in December. As a result, we will be depopulating this year and doing all in all out. We will then be receiving 40new layers. Yes we sell eggs at work [​IMG] I should begin by saying how we are set up: the birds are in a wooden barn with concrete floors. They have about 300 square feet to roam, which is important in considering what bedding we use (it's big). The second big factor, I have found, is climate. We're in south eastern ontario, we get -20C often, sometimes minus 30. Finally, in the summer they're free ranged dawn to dusk, but in the winter we let them out only when it's milder. Last consideration, we want to compost the manure for our large garden...have not really done it successfully yet.

    So far we tried two things:
    First year, we used deep litter... yeah, that didn't work. We were not disciplined enough to turn often, we had ducks mixed in and making a mess with water, which then froze SOLID and could not get turned, wood started to rot, and as we learned later, without a dirt floor, the composting effect does not really happen.
    So, second year, we tried sand. While in the face of it, it could work, what I found to my disappointment is that it will freeze on cold days, particularly where they pooped a bit, and the crusted frozen poop is impossible to remove. I'm not talking about weeks without raking, I'm talking about a couple of days (i.e. if we go for the weekend). And once that's happened, it piles on...literally.

    So far, I've not liked either. I would like your thoughts on either something else (I could do, for example, thin layer of shavings, all in all out every week), or how to make those options above work. Input welcome!
  2. ibarrett

    ibarrett Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 16, 2017

    I have a large walk-in coop and I use pine shavings. Below that I put linoleum tile to make it waterproof (preventing my wood from rotting[​IMG]) and to make it really easy to change out.

    Normally takes me like 10 mins to do a full change out.[​IMG]

  3. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2015
    SW Ohio
    Is it possible to keep the waterer out of the coop? We using pine flakes in the coop, no water so everything stays dry. No rotted floor or frozen bedding.
  4. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 15, 2014
    With 40 layers and 300 sq ft, your density might be high considering that in winter they're limited to using that space as both coop and run. Can you cut it down to 30 birds and see if you can keep up with the waste better.

    Other than that, I'd consider using pine shavings. They are relatively cheap and with a little extra time and effort will compost.

    How are your roosts set up? If they are all along the back of your space then once or twice a week remove the shavings just from under them. Push the shavings from the front area towards the back and put new ones down in the front. This rotational approach removes only the dirtiest, minimizes work and stretches your dollar. Dirty shavings and poop get put into a compost pile to which other material is added to assist with breakdown.
  5. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 18, 2016
    When you did "deep litter" before, what did you do? How deep? What materials? Will this continue to have ducks too?
  6. ShortHenTallPen

    ShortHenTallPen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2015
    Ontario, Canada
    Thank you everyone for the great questions!

    When I did deep litter, we had about 8 inches of pine shavings which we turned... as often as we could [​IMG] But the problem was, the top would freeze, leaving wet shavings underneath. Oh, just to be clear, the barn is NOT heated.

    The ducks are gone, they now have their own house in a fenced area which they inhabit year round. They're happy. They're only watered outside to cut the mess.

    In the winter, the chickens are watered using galvanized waterers on a galvanized heated base - that makes much less of a mess, only at refill time. In the summer, I will be moving to either hanging little giant type waterers or a nippled pipe (suggestions welcome BTW) so that water is automated - we are often gone camping 2-3 days at a time, that way water's automated, door's automated, and food supply..well, there's enough.

    My roosts are along the edges yes, I've thought of setting up a ''poop-catcher'' underneath, even maybe draping it with feed bags that I can throw away. That said, the idea of rotating the shavings is brilliant, cause yes cost of shaving is a consideration

    About birds/sq foot, is that really too much? 7.5 sq ft per bird for 3.5 months. [​IMG] I welcome perspectives.

    Keep 'em coming!

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