Planning coop -DLM


Mar 3, 2019
New-Brunswick Canada

In planning phase of my chicken coop. Wondering what kind of flooring to use for deep layer method....i feel like putting the coop on bare soil would be the winter but would DLM work on playwood floor or would it rot if I don't put something on top? Thank you!
The term 'deep litter' is often misunderstood and misapplied.
I've always liked this explanation:

A true composting deep litter needs ground contact to work well.
There are many ways to bed your coop and run.
Here's my take:

What kind of bedding you use may depend on how you manage the manure.
This is about cleaning, but covers my big picture

-I use poop boards under roosts with thin(<1/2") layer of sand/PDZ mix, sifted daily(takes 5-10mins) into bucket going to friends compost.

-Scrape big or wet poops off roost and ramps as needed.

-Pine shavings on coop floor, add some occasionally, totally changed out once or twice a year, old shavings added to run.

- My runs have semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are best IMO.

-Nests are bedded with straw, add some occasionally, change out if needed(broken egg).

There is no odor, unless a fresh cecal has been dropped and when I open the bucket to add more poop.

That's how I keep it 'clean', have not found any reason to clean 'deeper' in 5 years.
I like a dirt floor in the coop as long as it doesn't get wet. My biggest thing about locating a coop is drainage. If water drains to it or you put the coop where water stands you will probably have issues. If water drains away you will probably be OK. When I built mine I put a swale/berm upslope from it to divert run-off plus added a few inches of dirt to the floor to keep water out. It stays dry though the swale/berm needs redoing.

I consider a dirt floor to be a thermal mass. In those cold snaps it will be warmer than the air so it should warm things up a bit. But if you go with the deep litter method that won't matter much, the deep little will act as insulation. It's probably splitting frog hairs to worry about how much it might help.

The true DLM turns your coop floor into a compost pile. Any untreated wood it touches will soon rot. Treated wood will also but it will last longer. So any wood (floor, foundation, or walls) that touches the deep litter needs to be protected with linoleum, paint, or something else, like being treated.

For a compost pile to work you need a certain amount of moisture. If it is too wet it will become stinky and slimy because anaerobic bacteria take over. You need it to be dry enough that aerobic bacteria can get air. But if it gets too dry those good bacteria can't live and reproduce. The perfect moisture is about what you get if you soak a sponge and then wring it out as best you can.

If the deep litter is frozen solid don't expect much breakdown. If poop is frozen it won't give off much moisture or smell either. In New Brunswick I'd think it might freeze up solid during the winter though if you are on the coast it may not be as bad as I think. Pay attention at the thaw to see if you need to manage things a bit.

I do not use the deep litter method, my coop is too dry. I use wood shavings over the dirt, adding more as required. It doesn't really rot but their scratching turns it into a dust. I also use droppings boards to remove a lot of pure manure from the coop and in my climate the chickens spend practically all day every day outside so the poop load in the coop is pretty low. About every five years I clean out the coop floor in the fall and put it on my garden. By planting time it has broken down. I don't clean it out because I have to but I want that stuff in the garden.

I'd expect your situation to be different from mine from climate if nothing else. The DLM is a great way to approach it, some people even do it in the run. Hopefully you get something beneficial out of this. Just try something and see how it goes. Be flexible and change if you need to.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom