Yes.....another "Deep Litter" type question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by paneubert, Jun 21, 2017.

  1. Ok folks, I know about Deep Litter and how magical it can be. My question is of course special/unique and cannot be answered by reading any of the current Deep Litter discussions since I am such a special/unique person. Hahaha. Right. Aren't we all? Anyway....

    We have been spreading fresh "Tree Service/Arborist" mulch around our yard for the past few years as a replacement for grass. Lay it on thick and it will pretty much stop weeds. It just dawned on me that I might be able to use this as Deep Litter......yeah.....it has taken me this long to think of this idea....

    My question is if people have experience with, or opinions on using wood mulch with such a variety of particle size as a Deep Litter. This stuff varies from the size of pine needles (I mean....some of it is literally pine needles or cedar fronds/greens) all the way up to chunks of wood that might be an inch or two long by a half inch wide by a quarter inch thick. Think about what would come out of a giant industrial wood chipper when a variety of trees that have their entire trunks, branches, leaves, all of that chipped together. What concerns me a little is that this is not your standard "tons of Autumn fallen leaves, grass clippings, etc....". It is 99% woody products with some needles or other greenery mixed in.

    Even though I assume this to be mostly considered "brown/carbon" when thinking in terms of the "brown/green" "carbon/nitrogen" equations needed for good composting, our experience is the piles begin to heat up really quick from microbial action just by sitting there. Dig in and it will be steamy, especially after a rain. The microbes really go to work fast after the chipping happens. Isn't nature great? I figure that if we can assume that it is still mostly considered brown/carbon, then the high nitrogen bird poop will act like a good balance to eventually compost this stuff into fertile soil. I mean.....one of the main concerns about using "Tree Service/Arborist" type mulch in a garden or yard is that it sucks all the nitrogen out of the soil as part of the decomposition process, then eventually releases it back years later once fully decomposed. If I put this mulch where it will have poop all over it (and mixed in it from the birds digging around), wouldn't that be amazing? Ok, I am rambling now....

    My main goal is to reduce smell. So what I am really asking after all that verbal diarrhea is if people thing this would work.

    Photo below of the pile. No closeups unfortunately. [​IMG]
     
    Tom and Kathy likes this.
  2. Fire Ant Farm

    Fire Ant Farm Get off my lawn

    6,170
    2,552
    356
    May 5, 2015
    South Texas
    I believe someone who has a lot of experience (I can't remember who it was, it was on the big Deep Litter thread) said that wood chips were great for the run, but they didn't put them in the coop because they didn't break down fast enough - they recommended leaves for the coop, chips/mulch for the run/muddy spots. But your materials might be different...
     
  3. blackdog043

    blackdog043 Crowing

    1,917
    2,744
    316
    Feb 19, 2017
    Charlotte, NC
    Yes that will work for your run, but i would add your yard waste, pine straw, bigger twigs, leaves when they fall and pine cones. I think it will break down better with a variety of stuff.
     
  4. Thanks to both of you. I had some free time after work while the kids were distracted and I just went for it. Ended up being about 4-8 inches deep depending on where you are in the aviary. The ground naturally slopes away from the house, but the bottom of that slope is also where it gets most wet, so that is cool. I will bag a few bags of grass each time I mow and toss it in there as well. Anything has to be better than the half sand/half Sweet PDZ I had going on in there for the past year. Before I laid down the mulch, I scooped out the layers of hardened poop/sand with a "mud shovel". You can see it in one of the photos. Flat shovel with tons of holes in it for draining water, or in this case sifting sand. So the base of this is actually a really fine grain sand layer sitting on top of the original dirt from before the aviary was constructed. Photos are out of order for some reason.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Fire Ant Farm

    Fire Ant Farm Get off my lawn

    6,170
    2,552
    356
    May 5, 2015
    South Texas
    Yes! Better than the sand/PDZ, IMHO. I do use those, but only under poop boards to scoop out under-roost poop. Deep litter everywhere else.
     
  6. Fire Ant Farm

    Fire Ant Farm Get off my lawn

    6,170
    2,552
    356
    May 5, 2015
    South Texas
    Quail or young chicks? If quail, I don't know quail - might not be a bad idea to run this by quail keepers in case there's any additional wrinkle for them...
     
  7. Yeah, quail. Hahaha. Should have mentioned that I guess. They seem into it. Digging around like you would see a chicken do. Just on a smaller scale. I figure they are just as used to a "forest floor" as chickens, if not more so since they are closer to wild than most chickens are. Just as dumb though.....I accidentally kicked a few while doing this project. Dumped shovels of chips on more than a few who did not see the need to move out of my way. They just go where they want to go and do what they want to do.
     
  8. Fire Ant Farm

    Fire Ant Farm Get off my lawn

    6,170
    2,552
    356
    May 5, 2015
    South Texas
    I bet they love it. Actually (without any true expertise) I was thinking this might be BETTER for quail.

    But yeah, might not be a bad idea to post on the quail section... :thumbsup
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    62,178
    52,353
    1,417
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Well, thought I posted this yesterday.......guess that draft function has its uses after all. Will add beware of adding tons of (or any more than a few mouth fulls of fresh grass clippings.....it can cause impacted crops when confined birds gorge on it.

    This was written yesterday:
    A mix of stuff really is better...can depend on if your trimmings are large dormant branches or with good amounts of leaves and bark. You could try the straight chippings, see how it works out...then try adding some other dry plant materials and observe any differences.

    Oh, and, you might find parts of the workers lunches in there too, from Styrofoam to chip bags to shredded pop bottles...but maybe that is not new to you.

    Beware tho that fresh trimmings can have mold blooms that are toxic to birds.
    That steamy heat your observing, not all good stuff, for the birds anyway.
    Best to let it age for 6 months so that can pass before putting it in the coop and/or run.
     
  10. Thanks aart. This stuff does "bloom" for a bit in my experience. The part of the pile I pulled from had already started/finished that, so I hope my mixing/aeration of it when I put it in the aviary hopefully either stopped or at least diminished the effect. It is a lot more shielded from rain as well, so I think the reduced moisture will hopefully slow down any blooms.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: