Results from First Year with Deep Litter Method

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Daisy8s, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada
    I have used all types of litter for coops.

    I have not tried sand (sand gets good reviews on this site).

    Of all the things I tried to date wood pellets have been the best. (I tried wood pellets as a last resort when pine shavings were not available.) They are super absorbent and swell up and eventually turn to saw dust. The droppings just seem to vanish and turn to dust when it comes in contact with wood pellets .

    Replace my litter and clean my coop every October after I harvest my garden.

    Works for me in my deep litter method.

    I do add to pellets from time to time.

    I have 63 trips around the sun so it is not my first rodeo.

    I have anywhere from 10 to 15 birds housed in my 4x8 coop.

    Through the winter months it froze harder than concrete with -40º temperatures. The poop froze before it could be absorbed by the pellets and there was like a crusty layer of poop in certain areas where they collectively took aim (no smell, messy feet or flies @ -40º). Come April things started to look after themselves.

    Oh I might add I do have poop boards 3½" below my roost that I clean every 2 to 3 days (excellent for catching eggs laid through the night).

    In my nest boxes I fold a feed bag to fit (nest boxes are 1 ft³). When a bag gets soiled; fold a new one; pop out the soiled; pop in the new.

    Easy peasy!.

    Chicken coop is salvaged 4x8 metal shed.



  2. Fowl Wench

    Fowl Wench Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 7, 2013
    Knoxville TN
    Went to the Knoxville farmers co-op and the "chicken ladies" there recommended LIME to scatter when there's a smell. I got HAY instead of straw that, I read on here, is better than straw. It's nice - smells sweet and lovely. The chickens were so happy with it! All is great in the coop now thanks to everyone's advice!!
  3. dhining

    dhining Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 27, 2013
    Hi, I'm new to this--just now building my coop and anticipating my first flock. I am seeing some discussion about using hay and straw, and opinions vary widely about which is good/bad. But excuse me--what is the difference between hay and straw? Can you tell by looking at it? I have a few bales of one or the other I got for free and don't know if I should use them a little or not at all. Thanks for all the great advice, everyone! What a great. Community!
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Straw is a byproduct of a grain like barley, wheat, etc. It is the stock of the grain and is hollow, woody and waxy in appearance and very strong and fibrous. It does not break down well in composting or the garden because of it's woody nature and it doesn't absorb fluids due to the waxiness. It's great for insulation purposes because of the hollow straws that hold air, but it's not really ideal for bedding purposes if you want things to stay dry or if you want things to compost. It has little nutritive value and so it's a popular livestock bedding because the animals will not consume it.

    Here's a pic of straw:


    Hay, on the other hand, has some thin, woody stalks but they are not as fibrous and woody as the straw and have more flavor and nutrition than straw. It also contains leafy greens that are very tasty and filled with nutrition. The broader, less woody and fibrous leaves and stalks make it more absorbent but the long strands make it less desirable for bedding and the sugar and moisture in the leaf makes it more susceptible to mold growth~plus animals will eat it, some will do so even if it is contaminated with urine and feces. It makes excellent nesting materials because it's easier to mold into a nest shape, isn't so slick it gets kicked out of the nest and has a sweet smell and even flavor that the chickens seem to enjoy.

    Here's a pic of fresh hay:


    ETA: They also have a different smell altogether...the hay smells sweeter and the straw doesn't have much smell unless it's freshly baled, but nothing like the sweet smell of hay and it hits you in the face when you first break open a bale..that is the smell of farm goodness!
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  5. amenfarm

    amenfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 10, 2011
    Chattanooga, TN
    Quote: Most animals will NOT consume it. Unless you have a donkey. It gets very muddy in front of his stall every year and we cover the area in straw ( just to keep him and us from sliding ever where)--but I have to spray it with pine-sol (equines hate the smell) to keep it from getting eaten. I get the stink eyed looks when I bring out the spray bottle.
  6. BLT79

    BLT79 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 3, 2013
    Western MA
    so I can now put out an apb asking my friends with wood stoves to save me their ashes? the dust from the ash doesn't cause respiratory issues? is their any kind of burned wood that would not be good for them? out side of the obvious pressure treated or cedar! Do any of you use the DE in your coop to help with break down? I am new to chickens. Have had them since June. Just this week I noticed it is starting to have a strong odor. I added more pine shavings and some leaves. I have been attempting the deep litter method. Does this mean it's time to clean it out completely? thanks all! love it here!
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    I'd just increase your ventilation, particularly at the floor level. That's usually the culprit when it starts to smell...lack of ventilation letting ammonia build up. I wouldn't use DE if you want it to break down well, as all those soft bodied organisms that help in breaking down the material are the target of DE. No more insects, less break down of materials.
  8. BLT79

    BLT79 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 3, 2013
    Western MA
    ok thank you. what kind of vent should I put in at the bottoms?
  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    There are all kinds of ways to cut ventilation into the coop and most can be done free and with just a few scraps to keep it from being too breezy, but some find it helpful to have a pre-made types of vents that can be opened and closed as needed. One such is the use of metal floor vents one would find in a house with forced air heating and cooling. They are relatively cheap, easy to install and provide a way to adjust the flow of air to avoid direct wind into the coop and they also can keep out preds.
  10. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    I like to use "foundation vents"
    They're designed for exterior exposures, and most have screening to keep out pests

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