What should deep litter compost look like when it's ready for the garden?

May 29, 2019
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We built a garden and got chickens this spring. We're brand new to all this (and loving it), so we don't know much about anything. We've been doing the deep litter method with a waterproof floor. It seems to be going very well. I stir it regularly and add pine shavings and we have almost no odor. As of right now, the litter has been building up for three months. The pine shavings are piling up and there's a bunch of old turds mixed in there. When about do you think this stuff can be used in the garden (if ever)? And what should it look like when it goes over to the raised beds?

Thank you in advance for any guidance you can provide.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

I love September
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Generally you leave the deep litter in the run. I personally would only apply it to your vegetable garden after its shut down for the season. I apply seasoned manure in the fall on top of my beds. It mellows out over winter and the worms will work it into the soil in the spring. I will put down the composted manure than top with fall leaves chopped up by my mower. Come spring I peel the layer up, and plant, than replace the top stuff as mulch.
 

Noreaster Egger

Songster
5 Years
May 22, 2016
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Be careful of deep litter with pine shavings. They tend to get wet and moldy with time rather than properly composting on down. I don’t do DLM with my raised, floored coop, but in the run we have lots of composting wood chips and we add a lot of green yard waste to it. Pine needles and fall leaves work great too.
 
May 29, 2019
637
1,052
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T
Be careful of deep litter with pine shavings. They tend to get wet and moldy with time rather than properly composting on down. I don’t do DLM with my raised, floored coop, but in the run we have lots of composting wood chips and we add a lot of green yard waste to it. Pine needles and fall leaves work great too.
Thank you for the warning. Our coop stays really dry (and odor-free), but we may have to re-think the bedding we use. I know mold can be deadly! Any tips on coop bedding?

We use a mixture of wood chips and leaves in the run--the girls love it, it doesn't smell, and I think it's definitely composting!
 

Noreaster Egger

Songster
5 Years
May 22, 2016
271
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603
T

Thank you for the warning. Our coop stays really dry (and odor-free), but we may have to re-think the bedding we use. I know mold can be deadly! Any tips on coop bedding?

We use a mixture of wood chips and leaves in the run--the girls love it, it doesn't smell, and I think it's definitely composting!
I use the large flake pine shavings in the coop, but I don’t deep litter with them. My birds are rarely in the coop during the day. I’m up early to let them out at sunrise and they’re either in the run or free ranging until sunset. I have a large poop board with two 8ft roosts sitting over sweet pdz that catches all of the poop from overnight. Everyday I take about 5 minutes to clean it out with a kitty litter poop scoop. So my shavings stay dry and relatively poop free. I get a couple of days every winter when wind chills push -30F and most of the girls don’t want to go out so that’s the only time I’m left picking up poop on the coop floor...and of course they’re all frozen rocks on days like those so nothing gets wet.

I wouldn’t use pine shavings or sawdust outside though. You need something more airy with good drainage.
 

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