Nightly droppings & deep litter method

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by hen-at-home, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. hen-at-home

    hen-at-home Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm trying the deep litter method this winter (or maybe it should be referred to as "composting litter" method as my Storey's Guide states). In the fall I put a large amount of oak leaves (not shredded first) into the coop. I have maintained by mixing in the manure under the roosts and I've added more oak leaves when I thought it needed it. I am out of oak leaves now that there is snow cover outside. A week or so ago I added a small amount of pine shavings to the area under the roosts and mixed that in.

    This morning I noticed a slight ammonia smell in the coop and I know this is not a good sign.

    I'm wondering about my choices:

    Add a larger amount of pine shavings and maybe some wood ash to the area under the roosts (I refer to this area because it is in the half of the coop where I can maintain some depth in the litter because it is away from my doorways etc.), or shovel out the area under the roosts, maybe just minimally, because obviously this is where the excess manure is from the hens nightly droppings.

    How do most of you handle the nightly droppings? My Storey's Guide suggests removing (or using dropping board) this nightly stuff. I wondered if it's possible to maintain a deep litter/compost litter method by using the nightly droppings and not removing them?
     
  2. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The ammonia smell means there is not enough ventilation in the coop. Dont worry about them being cold, they handle cold extremely well. You need more vents at the top. Make sure it isnt over the roosts drafts are bad on them at night.
    What I do is remove the droppings under the roosts that are pilled up on top, every morning. Just a quick scoop with a garden trowl, I dont worry about getting everything just the stuff piled up. Then I fluff up the bedding and that has been working great for me. I started doing this because I too was having a problem with the ammonia smell doing the deep litter. I opened up my whole top portion of the coop and started taking out the piles and I havent had the smell.
    You surely can stir the nightky droppings into the litter and not remove it. Most people who use DLM do this.
     
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  3. hen-at-home

    hen-at-home Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I love the shelf and how you've set that up!! Awesome! What a pretty coop! Definitely an idea I want to try.
     
  4. hen-at-home

    hen-at-home Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think [​IMG] I have enough ventilation. There are two standard size windows and a coopula atop the coop. The coopula may not be doing as good a job as it once did since I think it's pretty dusty up there and the screens need to be cleaned. Also, it is winter and I haven't opened the windows lately so that might make a difference? ha ha

    The coop is only on the left side of the shed you see in the pic.
    [​IMG]

    But you think I should be able to manage it using the nightly droppings??

    I will try then to add a good amount of shavings and wood ashes to what is in there now and I'll open a window during the day and see how that goes.


    Would love to hear from anyone else who manages without removing nightly litter.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  5. Time-Out

    Time-Out Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's not my coop, sadly. Mine is an ugly cinderblock building, but I use the same poop tray method as that lady. I use play sand on the tray and scoop it once a week.

    You'll get ammonia smells from damp litter too. Have you had a look around to see if water might be seeping in somewhere?
     
  6. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

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    I'll second the idea you don't have enough ventilation. You say you haven't opened the windows lately, and you are counting on the dust choked cupola to provide the fresh air needed. You need to open at least one of those windows up, and see if that helps. See the pic below to see my coop's winter ventilation. Yes, the front is wide open.
    As far as the bedding goes, you may just need to turn it over a bit. I keep a rake in my coop, just for that. I notice excess buildup under the roosts, I'll break the rake out and turn/stir the bedding over. I'll also let the chickens themselves turn it over. I'l throw a handful or two of scratch back in there, and the birds do quite a job turning the bedding looking for the grain.
    Jack

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is a nice building. Maybe open the windows a bit in the day time to air it out.
     
  8. hen-at-home

    hen-at-home Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jack - Love the design of your coop. How often do you add new bedding? Do you just add on an as need basis based on the look of the litter or do you do it every time you turn it ?
     
  9. kimntep

    kimntep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I scrape down my roosts, turn the litter lightly, and sprinkle on a layer of DE then some new shavings weekly. Never have a problem and my litter is about 8" thick now, starting with about 2" during summer. I'll shovel everything out and thoroughly clean come spring and I won't change a thing.
     

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