What Kind of Litter for Deep Litter Method?

Niwatorilove

In the Brooder
Apr 30, 2020
11
3
14
Australia
I have 6 laying hens with about 12 m² run area that I want to do deep litter method. I searched online which is the best to use. At the moment I put hardwood chips and found not very suitable but maybe healthy way as pine shaving has abietic acid which seems not good for chickens, then peat moss cause illnesses from molds and dust. Sawdust is too dusty. These options are cheaply available here in Australia. Hemp is too expensive. Eucalyptus and tee tree mulch are other options here, but maybe toxic and look too sharp to hens feet? What do you think? What if I mix pine shaving and peat moss and mulch together?

Is deep litter system(if do properly) healthier than sand? If I imagine hens having dust bath of mixture of poops(decomposed and fresh ones together) and litter, I cannot see why so healthy, as they might accidentally ingest them and stick around their bodies.

Could anyone give me some insights on these concerns? Thank you.
 

3KillerBs

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Jul 10, 2009
6,497
14,437
846
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
Deep litter is a form of cold composting and thus benefits from using a mix of materials of different compositions and textures.

I don't know what materials are available in Australia, but what I used in North Carolina was a mix of wood chips, pine shavings, pine straw, wheat straw, fall leaves, and other random things that came to hand such as corn husks and shredded paper. Maybe that list will give you some inspiration.

As for the hens dust-bathing in their poop, I would be more concerned about that in a sand situation because the sand system works by dehydrating the poop. You scoop it daily. but no matter how diligent you are I'm sure it is impossible to get all of it. In a deep litter system the composting organisms break down and digest the poop -- reacting with it to turn poop + litter into rich, clean compost.

However, climate matters tremendously. The composting process requires a base level of moisture to work -- not wetness but dampness. Sand is often advocated for dry climates and probably works better for people whose climates are too dry to keep the deep litter working properly.

Some people give their chickens dedicated dust bathing areas with special materials. My in-town chickens dug down through the deep litter to the soil base (which was fine sand), for their dusting.

Hopefully some Australian members will be able to give more specific advice.
 

drinkoj

Chicken Chaser
May 24, 2020
675
1,462
216
Upstate South Carolina
I don't know what materials are available in Australia, but what I used in North Carolina was a mix of wood chips, pine shavings, pine straw, wheat straw, fall leaves, and other random things that came to hand such as corn husks and shredded paper.

Like in everyday 8x11 sheets of shredded paper will work? I can get my hands on trash cans full of this to add to pine chips and leaves for my deep liter.
 

3KillerBs

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Jul 10, 2009
6,497
14,437
846
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
Like in everyday 8x11 sheets of shredded paper will work? I can get my hands on trash cans full of this to add to pine chips and leaves for my deep liter.

When short on shavings I used the contents of the household shredder to add bulk to the mix.

I suspect that using only shredded paper would create mats and that it would be problematic in a dry, windy place, but in moderate quantities as part of the mix I found it perfectly acceptable.

I used to use it in the cockatiel and guinea pig cages when we had those small pets.
 

Niwatorilove

In the Brooder
Apr 30, 2020
11
3
14
Australia
Deep litter is a form of cold composting and thus benefits from using a mix of materials of different compositions and textures.

I don't know what materials are available in Australia, but what I used in North Carolina was a mix of wood chips, pine shavings, pine straw, wheat straw, fall leaves, and other random things that came to hand such as corn husks and shredded paper. Maybe that list will give you some inspiration.

As for the hens dust-bathing in their poop, I would be more concerned about that in a sand situation because the sand system works by dehydrating the poop. You scoop it daily. but no matter how diligent you are I'm sure it is impossible to get all of it. In a deep litter system the composting organisms break down and digest the poop -- reacting with it to turn poop + litter into rich, clean compost.

However, climate matters tremendously. The composting process requires a base level of moisture to work -- not wetness but dampness. Sand is often advocated for dry climates and probably works better for people whose climates are too dry to keep the deep litter working properly.

Some people give their chickens dedicated dust bathing areas with special materials. My in-town chickens dug down through the deep litter to the soil base (which was fine sand), for their dusting.

Hopefully some Australian members will be able to give more specific advice.
Thanks for your informative reply. I will start with all sorts of organic matters and I'm thinking of using EM(Effective Micro-organism) to assist composing quicker by fermentation process which I usually do with gardening.
 

3KillerBs

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Jul 10, 2009
6,497
14,437
846
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
Thanks for your informative reply. I will start with all sorts of organic matters and I'm thinking of using EM(Effective Micro-organism) to assist composing quicker by fermentation process which I usually do with gardening.

You don't want your bedding to break down TOO fast-- it needs to stay effective as bedding for a reasonable time or you'll have to add more bedding more often than you expected. :)
 

Niwatorilove

In the Brooder
Apr 30, 2020
11
3
14
Australia
You don't want your bedding to break down TOO fast-- it needs to stay effective as bedding for a reasonable time or you'll have to add more bedding more often than you expected. :)
You are right! But I got harwood chips on the run which might take for a long time to decompose. I might sometimes use EM Bokasi bran to feed chickens to reduce poop smell and occasional EM spray on the run. What do you think?
 

3KillerBs

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Jul 10, 2009
6,497
14,437
846
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
You are right! But I got harwood chips on the run which might take for a long time to decompose. I might sometimes use EM Bokasi bran to feed chickens to reduce poop smell and occasional EM spray on the run. What do you think?

I don't know anything about those.

Any time I noticed an odor I added more bedding. If adding 4" or so of dry pine straw, etc. didn't solve the odor problem I cleaned out the run and used the material it to form a hot compost pile.
 

Yeeming

Hatching
Jun 11, 2020
2
0
6
You are right! But I got harwood chips on the run which might take for a long time to decompose. I might sometimes use EM Bokasi bran to feed chickens to reduce poop smell and occasional EM spray on the run. What do you think?
Have you tried this yet? How has it worked for you? I would think the bokashi bran or spray would need an anaerobic environment to work properly, which is what we definitely don’t want in a chicken run. I’m not sure how you’d control the type of mold that would start to grow in the layers if no air gets in there. But I’m new to bokashi composting...
 

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