Newbie struggling with deep litter in run

Aunt Angus

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Jul 16, 2018
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Hi.
I'm sure this has been discussed to death. I apologize if I'm kicking a dead horse.

I've read a bazillion threads about it, but I am still stumped.

I have deep bedding in my coop. It's going splendidly. I am trying deep litter in my run, but I have no idea if I'm maintaining it correctly. I started with a dirt "floor" and added things from the yard: dried grasses from the mower, fallen leaves, some sand, some gravel, some pine shavings. I mix it up with a rake every morning and add stuff every week or so.

It doesn't stink, but I am a lil concerned by the amount of poop that's accumulating. I only have 4 birds in a 113 sq ft run. They are in the run while I'm at work. I let them out to free range in the afternoons and on weekends. They peck at stuff in the deep litter. Frankly, I'm worried about them ingesting parasites from the junk on the ground, from birds that probably get in there, from other critters. The run is uncovered at the moment (no rain yet, and it doesn't ever snow here).

Am I doing anything incorrectly? Is three something I should be doing that I'm not? Is the run too dry, and the poop isn't breaking down properly? Is everything fine and I'm just being impatient/paranoid?

EDIT: I've been trying deep litter in the run since late August.
 

Aunt Angus

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Jul 16, 2018
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Hi,
I suspect sand may be your problem, and gravel. Organic breakdown/composting of materials i believe is what makes the deep litter method work. Also, sand can form a solid 'mat' so the droppings will sit on top. think carbons and nitrogen /brown and greens as your deep litter materials.

Good point. This is actually in our soil, as is the gravel. Should I try adding dirt from another source (a clean source, of course)? I'm beginning to think our soil is to sandy, dry for this to work.
 

Percheron chick

Crowing
8 Years
Apr 12, 2013
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Stop over thinking things. Gravel and sand aren't part of the recipe but they won't make it fail. Just don't add anymore. Keep adding leaves, grass clippings, kitchen waste... The run is drier from the sun and wind so I'd water it down lightly a few times a week. Don't stir it up on a regular basis. You are disrupting the heating process. A healthy deep litter run will take 6 months or more to break down to beautiful soil.
 

Cragg Klefor

Crowing
Apr 14, 2017
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Good point. This is actually in our soil, as is the gravel. Should I try adding dirt from another source (a clean source, of course)? I'm beginning to think our soil is to sandy, dry for this to work.
It really shouldn't matter what type of soil is underneath once you add only organic materials which will break down. i thought you were adding the sand and gravel, it would only matter if these were on the surface (on top of the deep litter). time is all that is really needed then! if it is not smelly - you are doing it right :thumbsup
 

Aunt Angus

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Jul 16, 2018
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Post pics of your run, please.
Likely the ingredient you are missing is larger wood chippings(1/2" - 1" thick)...
....and maybe some moisture if you get no rain at all.
Grass, leaves, and shavings will clump obliterating any air pockets needed for decomposition.

I will get some pics later today. I just added pine shavings yesterday, so there isn't much to see. Maybe I need to add moisture... Hmm... I'm hoping the rain starts soon. Maybe I should wait for that. I am thinking that might be pretty telling.
 

Aunt Angus

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Jul 16, 2018
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Nevada County, CA
It really shouldn't matter what type of soil is underneath once you add only organic materials which will break down. i thought you were adding the sand and gravel, it would only matter if these were on the surface (on top of the deep litter). time is all that is really needed then! if it is not smelly - you are doing it right :thumbsup

So smell at all. I have HOPE!!! Thanks!
 

MANNA-PRO

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