So I have just gotten 6 new chicks, having given my lovely 3.5 year old hens to a friend (she has an older flock, my kids really wanted chicks, and I really wanted more eggs ). Soo, I'm thinking about using a deep litter system . . . I actually did what I thought was a deep litter system for the first flock, but now I'm wondering if I did it wrong. What I did was fill the bottom of the coop with about 12" wood chips (from our local tree company - I use the same chips in my garden paths), and then every week or so for over 3 years (!) I would go in and rake in any droppings that were on top of the chips (actually, my hens helped me out with this task - they were always scratching around in the chips). Now that my first flock has been re-homed, I've gone in and cleared out the coop and put all the now fairly composted chips in garbage cans to set out over the winter . . . I'll screen it all in the spring for my garden beds. My first flock (of 4 hens) was healthy and happy and I never had any problems with this system, but I'm wondering what folks think. Should I have changed out the chips every year? Should I have used pine shavings and not wood chips? Not that I want to fix what's not broke, but the more I read about how folks do the deep litter system, I'm starting to think I was a bit negligent in my choice of bedding material and in more regularly cleaning out my coop . Thanks!