Question about the deep liter method


The Jam Man
Jan 23, 2013
Pocono Mtns
My Coop
My Coop
I was reading a few articles today about the deep liter method and how it starts to compost right in the coop, the coop doesn't smell, it's beneficial microbes actually help control pathogens, so chickens are less susceptible to diseases, and you can use it right in the garden without composting it, until I came upon 1 article that said:

Is this true? If you have anything but a earthen floor, you still have to compost it after cleaning it out of the coop?
I compost...I garden and we eat a lot of fresh from the garden veggies and fruit...I do not want to eat or feed my family something with unwanted pathogens in it..I have an earthen floor and I still compost till it does not 'smell' and when you do a clean out no matter what it says about the deep litter method there is a smell to it. compost this springs to use next spring..make 2 compost for 'cooking' and one for using. It works here. :)
You don't have to have a earth floor for deep litter. Even with a wood floor, the deep litter will decompose. No matter what type floor you have, you may still wish to compost it further when you clean the coop out in the spring but not all people do that. If you're using deep litter, everything is all mixed up in it - the new poop along with the composted poop. There's no way to separate new from old so I let the litter continue to compost in a "finishing bin". After about a month, I'll use it in the garden providing it's not still "hot".

I do deep litter on wood and add a few shovels of dirt to it to get the microbes necessary for decomposition. I first put a tarp down on my floor to protect it and build my deep litter from there. I also use chopped autumn leaves in the deep litter and it works really well.
I have my chickens on deep litter for 3 years. the floor is dirt. I just keep adding pine shavings to it and occasionally mixing. It never smells.
no bug problems. Ive had up to 9 chickens in a 12 by 6 coop. they are let out during the day to free range.

I dont know how well it would work on a wood floor, or if the chickens were left in the coop. You can use shavings in the run also, if you notice a smell or it gets wet. The shavings keep everything nice an dry.

To compost, the mixture needs water. so its not really compost until you let it age with water and mixing. I cant use it on my garden straight from the coop. I have to compost first.

I can't imagine raking out poop everyday. You never see poop on the deep litter. I gets absorbed real quick. And the litter is much better on chicken feet than wire would be.
I am just getting started with my chicks. Reading on the DLM this definitely sounds like the way to go. I have read that some mix in shredded paper with the wood shavings. Is shredded newspaper OK to use, if not, what paper would be appropriate to mix. Thanks in advance for your help. I am just so excited to be having chickens
Oh yes, I through paper from our shredder and stripped newspaper in with the wood chips. its all carbon and degradeable.
I'm really glad you said you used chopped autumn leaves because I just got an inspiration about 2 weeks ago when I was raking our leaves and they smelled so good that I thought wouldn't they be nicer in the coup than just pine shavings? I didn't chop them up just added big bunches and it seems to have warmed up the coop which is good because it is getting quite cold at night. Then I started worrying that maybe I shouldn't have done that because it might add bugs/disease. So you have reassured me. Again, I don't chop them though.
I am also wondering what to do for winter. I have a chicken tractor for 5 hens and a bantam rooster. The whole bottom of a 4' x 10' area is open underneath. A 4' x 4' x 4' area is the sheltered actual coop with a roost, nesting boxes and poop boards. I have been putting the leaves/shavings in the actual coop but I'm cleaning out the larger poops. Should I clean out all the poops or will they decompose and keep the coop area warmer? It doesn't smell.
We plan to put the chicken tractor on our back patio for the winter in a week or so. The patio is concrete and my husband wants to buy a piece of linoleum so the concrete won't absorb the debris/smell and the chickens aren't directly on the concrete. I'm planning on adding about 10 inches of pine shavings and leaves and then making a big dusting bin in the 4 foot area under the coop part of the tractor. We are securing very thick clear vinyl on the bottom 2 foot of the tractor's 1/2" hard cloth. Do I just rake the shavings/leaves and let all the poop fall to the bottom in the run and then add another top layer of shavings/leaves? Can I throw veggie scraps in there or should I keep chopping them up and putting in a feeder to keep them out of any fecal matter?
Sorry for all the questions. I've read different chicken books and I still don't know everything I should, especially as I am using a chicken tractor and there is not a lot of information out there specifically for tractors.

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