Question about deep litter and winter cold temps...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by DawnB, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. DawnB

    DawnB Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi all...

    Fairly new to chickens...I've had them a few months. They're doing well. I've gone the deep litter method which works well for us. But I have a question about wintering with deep litter. It has been in the single digits during the day and negatives at night for over 2 weeks (I'm in Northern MI).

    I've been adding to the pine shavings just fine, but my issue is with turning over the litter to try and keep it mixed (and primed for "composting"). It's ROCK HARD [​IMG] (<--- Yeah, I pretty much feel like that!)...when I do beat the snot out of it and get it loosened up some, there are usually big chunks. I can usually move the top layer, but the bottom closest to the floor is stuck tight.

    Is this OK or am I doing something wrong. I've got plenty of ventilation (not the slightest bit of indoor condensation on the windows, even at these temps). The litter is just frozen. So, am I OK...do I just keep adding shavings and wait for a bit of a warm up to get in there and really break things up?

    There's really not much smell at all...I just want to make sure I didn't miss something.

    Thanks!


    Dawn
     
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    I remove the clumped shavings on top and replace. To harden up it needs moisture to freeze so it's a good idea to remove it, it's poo and urine soaked.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  3. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Yes, mine looks like that too right now. I chunk off the worst near the top and cover with fresh shavings. I don't worry much about stirring it in winter--as you've found out, it's nigh on impossible.
     
  4. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    OK, I just came in from the chickens this morning, and realized that my post above was incomplete enough to be inaccurate.

    The bottom parts of the litter in a deep litter coop will indeed be rock-hard in the colder parts of winter. And there may be chunks in the top part where there's lots of poop--that's what I meant you should take out. But there should be parts of your litter that are loose, even in the freezing winter. That's the dry part of the bedding. If you can't stir any of your bedding, then it sounds as if it's gotten too wet.

    What I just came back in from doing was pulling some of the poopiest stuff off the top, stirring the layer just under that, moving litter from the cleanest part of the coop (under my nest boxes, under my feeder, etc.) and spreading it under the perches where I took the poo out, and spreading half a bale of shavings under my nest boxes, etc, where I moved the shavings from. Does that make any more sense? In the summer I would fluff the bottom layers, too.

    If you can't stir any part of your litter, it's getting too wet. You might need to take out what chunks you can, then put in lots of new bedding so there's a clean, dry place for your chickens.
     
  5. DawnB

    DawnB Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yep, makes sense...turns out we had a heat wave today...all of 25deg. So, I got out there and kicked all the birds out (it's amazing where they'll go when there's a pan of veggie treats! [​IMG]).

    I got in there and broke everything up. Turns out it wasn't that bad. Not so much frozen as just compacted. Hadn't been out to really move stuff around since it got really cold and all the birds were staying in all the time. It was just to confined.

    Got most of the chunks broken up. It's starting to compost nicely. So, the couple of spots that I knew were actually ice were from where the snow had gotten in through our vents when the wind was so atrocious. I got those and some of the heavy poo out... So, I feel better about my DL abilities! [​IMG]

    Thanks for the responses though...guidance always helps!

    Dawn
     

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