What is the deep litter method?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Sandbellie, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. Sandbellie

    Sandbellie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Can someone explain to me what exactly this is? And how to do it?

    Thanks.
     
  2. erock

    erock Out Of The Brooder

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    I researched on BYC this method and it has worked great for me.

    It is pretty simple in that I first put down a nice base of bedding, at first I was using Cedar shavings until I read that wasn't the healthiest bedding material so I switched over to pine shavings.

    Usually, I check things once a week to either add more bedding or add DE (diatomaceous earth), which I believe is the key to this meathod. DE is a mineral that dries up the waste and also is helpful in bug control. I sprinkle around to cover the floor and take a yard rake and rake it in or let the birds scratch around and work it in. Really does a great job of keeping the smell down, really don't have a smell at all and keeps things dry. I also sprinkle in the nesting boxes as well.

    In the spring, I will have about 6 to 8 months of bedding built up in there and will empty it out and bring it over to the compost, clean it all out and start over. Low maintenance, I believe keeps the birds a little warmer in winter. I really have found it to be beneficial for me and the birds.
     
  3. Sandbellie

    Sandbellie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So, do you just use shavings and no hay?
     
  4. ChickieBooBoo

    ChickieBooBoo Cold Canadian Chick

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    Quote:I only use shavings, the hay or straw just gets matted down because they cant turn it over as well
     
  5. erock

    erock Out Of The Brooder

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    I have only used shavings, I don't think that straw or hay works as well, but I am not sure because I have not tried it.
     
  6. biddyboo

    biddyboo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We too deep litter with pine shavings only for our hens. We use this in their indoor-barn pen with concrete floor, in their nest boxes, and outdoors in their coop and nest boxes. We change this out twice a year. In spring I rake it all out and spread directly on the garden. The litter is dry and filled with manure that is aged. Most of it has composted for at least six-seven months and I"ve found my garden responds wellwhen the old compost is tilled into the garden soil before planting. After cleaning out the pen, coop, and nest boxes, we too spread a little DE and add shavings to a depth of six inches in pen and coop and fill nest boxes freshly. I turn the litter weekly usually, sometimes daily in summer if the humidity is high, temps warm, and manure attracts flies. I use a hoe and the top litter naturally falls and bottom litter shift toward the top, mixing all well over time. We change out the litter again in late fall after cleaning the garden, just before tilling all in for the winter. The hens then receive fresh litter in pen, coop, and nest boxes. I find I don't turn nearly as often in winter as summer. For one thing, we toss BOSS and scratch onto the litter and hens stir everything is search for their treats. I do hand remover any manure from their nest boxes to keep egg laying areas clean--this takes only a few minutes and gets dropped onto the floor litter where it enters the composting cycle. This is a great, simple system that works. A cautionary common-sense note: We keep antiseptic hand cleaner in the hen area for cleaning our hands--avoid intestinal upsets! Also, if litter gets very dry, you might sprinkle it gingerly with water to help keep down dust, especially at turning times. If you are very sensitive to dust, keep a supply of nose masks on hand to protect your breathing. I have no problem with dust and only notice it, if at all, at clean out time twice a year. BTW, we add another cube of pine shaving whenever the supply seems to have compacted and we want to deepen the litter. ~G
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
  7. clairabean

    clairabean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2010
    Kootenays of BC!
    Exactly as the others do, but I don't use DE, yet. I add a few inches throughout the winter too.[​IMG]
     
  8. Sandbellie

    Sandbellie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Well I have a pine coop, and I put half an inch of shavings down, then layer it with hay. So, no hay is needed at all? Won't this be colder?
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    There is no "the" deep litter method (except in imagination). There is a huge VARIETY of ways to manage litter rather-deeply, some but not all of which will create some degree of in-house composting, sometimes in a good way sometimes not.

    Do not be misled by the idea that you can follow some recipe and get magical effects. It does not work that way. The much-vaunted "no work, good air quality and heat production" benefits cannot be equally well achieved in all coops, and even where they CAN all be achieved it is not always through the same methods.

    YOu have to experiment to see what works best IN YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION. Things to beware of include excessive dust, excessive humidity, and excessive ammonia production. Adjust your management accordingly til you find something that works for you -- which may or may not resemble what others are doing and may or may not give you all the exact benefits you hoped for.

    Straw or hay will work in general, but unless chopped cannot be turned easily and tend to mat which can create problems, so you will have to think about (or try and see) how suitable they are for your particular situation. Mixing shavings in with straw or hay is not usually a good idea as it makes a terrible mess and *very* hard to clean or turn, although you are certainly welcome to try it yourself and see what you think.

    Many BYCers are fond of using DE or some other stall powder to cover up some modest degree of problems that can arise with their litter management (excessive humidity or ammonia) but note that these are not part of the old-timey traditional deep litter management methods that people often like to think they are following, and you should use judgement as to whether problems are best solved that way or another way. They certainly are not *necessary*. Primarily what is necessary is experimentation and to break free from the idea that there is "a" deep litter method.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
  10. Sandbellie

    Sandbellie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Makes sense! Thanks. [​IMG]
     

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