The Value of Deep Litter

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Beekissed

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Re: The Value of Deep Litter
« Reply #45 on: November 11, 2015, 04:12 »
They tried, at first....but then they went over in the shallow end and played.  There's no way they are moving those deep leaves and it didn't take them long to figure that one out.   :lol:

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Beekissed

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Re: The Value of Deep Litter
« Reply #46 on: November 24, 2015, 01:32 »
Well...winter has arrived and litter material is stored and then some.  I've already got several pumpkin and watermelon rinds that need buried into the roost litter after the birds ate the contents.  I'll bury those rinds face down and let the worms take care of turning them into compost by spring. 

I've scavenged several pumpkins to feed out this winter, but will wait to feed the rest after they've frozen and thawed several times.  Seems to make them sweeter and easier to eat, even the rinds are consumed then. 



Got the shade tarp off and the clear tarp lets in the winter sun, warming and lighting the winter coop into a cozy place...



Training up my new, extra LGD to help my old dog, Jake, protect the flock this winter.....



I'm ready for winter snows....getting the heated dog bucket and dog bowl(use this one as my winter chicken waterer) out this week, as I had to break ice on the communal water pan today. 

Just a minor tweak or so to the roosting area of the coop to be done this week and I'm ready.  Hope to make plenty of compost this winter for my spring gardens in this coop. 

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Stewart P

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Re: The Value of Deep Litter
« Reply #47 on: November 27, 2015, 22:34 »
I'd really like some advice on this.  I have two runs, one that I put my girls in during the day, we only built it this summer it consists of 6 foot high wire mesh panels resting on the garden soil, with an anti dig skirt of wire mesh around the outside.  I live in London where urban daytime foxes are very common and we built it as a fox proof daytime run for when we are not in the garden.  The other run encloses the coop and has a paving stone floor which we installed after we had a big problem with rats tunneling in. The problems I have are that the flagstone floor is boring and the girls can't scratch about, they have a big dust box & we put bark in there as well.  The floor ends up very yukky and smelly. The daytime soil based run has been great all summer but now the weather has turned the floor has turned into a mud bath, I put a huge pile of leaves in there last week thinking that they'd keep the girls out of the mud & that they'd compost down.  Yesterday I spent the afternoon raking out a stinking sour mass of horrible leaves. The run still smells revolting even though I've taken the leaves out I don't want to put the girls in there for fear of disease. Should I have put a mixture of stuff on the floor? is bark from the garden centre OK to use? one of the chicken product sites advises against it saying that it harbours mould spores and that hard wood chippings should be used instead. Could I use the deep litter approach you describe on the paving stones in the other run?

We have a walk-in covered and skirted run enclosing the coop.  For several months this was sited on the paving-slabbed patio and we used a "deep litter" bed of hardwood wood chipping mixed with a little hemp bedding (both from flytesofancy).  Within weeks the bedding would turn into a revolting, foul smelling mess and raking it out into trugs to take down to the allotment was enough to make you retch.  We moved the coop/run set-up down the garden and repeated the same bedding along with a small bale of straw (petshop rabbit bedding) onto a bare earth floor.  Result that after a few months, the decayed bedding can be removed but without a hint of the previous slime and stench. 

When organic matter (chicken poo, spilt food etc) decays it can start to liquify and together with any rain water run-off, seeps down through the bedding.  On slabs, the liquid can't drain anywhere and becomes an anaerobic (starved of oxygen) puddle.  It's the anaerobic fermentation under the top layer that smells disgusting and potentially pathogenic bugs can flourish, and so becomes a health risk to the flock.  On bare earth, an.y liquid drains into the soil and anaerobic fermentation never gets a chance to start.  "Good" aerobic bacteria flourish therefore breaking down the chicken poo more effectively to create a rich crumbly surface which the chicks love to scrat around in and eventually turns into a wonderful and completely odour-less soil dressing. 

Paving slabs may deter, but wont prevent, rats who will find a way to squeeze in for a snack of spilt layers pellets.  They are always there its just that you notice them more when they have an easy meal to tunnel in for

We also live in London and have suffered losses to the street-wise urban foxes but I think our current set-up of (hopefully) fox-proof run and deep litter on bare earth is the best we've come up with so far.  I would not try to create a deep litter bed on slabs again unless I could find a way to create enough drainage

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Beekissed

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Re: The Value of Deep Litter
« Reply #48 on: January 29, 2016, 03:53 »
Mid winter here and the deep litter is performing lovely, as per usual.  Several bags of leaves into the coop this year and I have several more bags stored to be used if needed.  It's around a 8-12 in. deep throughout the coop, deepest in the area below the roosts. 

We've been down to -1 this year but no freezing of the litter and the coop is staying cozy at 10 degrees warmer at the roost level than outside temps.  As the snow melts from this last snow fall of 18 in., the humidity in the coop rises along with the ambient humidity outdoors.  Opening up more ventilation at floor level beneath the roosts helped move that humidity out and no frosting of the roosters combs and wattles has occurred all winter. 

No bad smells in the coop, even with the rise in moisture from the snow melting.  Just smells like a forest floor if one lifts the bedding to one's nose.  Can't wait to put some of this on the garden come spring! 


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Beekissed

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Re: The Value of Deep Litter
« Reply #49 on: October 26, 2016, 10:15 »
It's that time of year again, when the deep litter gets the deepest as garden waste is deposited into the coop and then the fall leaves arrive.  Every year I thank God for having found out about composting deep litter~not just deep bedding~and the benefits to my coop and my life with chickens. 

No smells, no fecal matter with which to contend and pile up for composting before use on the garden, no flies...haven't seen a fly in my coop for 4 yrs now.  Clean feet, which leads to cleaner nests and eggs, and something for the chickens to do when the snow is deep, not to mention a place in which they can dust all winter long. 

First leaves of the season....



Before that, I piled 15 full cart loads of weeds, grasses, and garden waste in the coop and spare pen, where it will compost quietly all winter long under a thick layer of leaves.  Come spring it will be returned to the garden as rich, dark, and lovely compost. 





This time I was careful to NOT include my tomato canning scraps in the litter compost....did that last year and had literally hundreds of volunteer tomatoes in the BTE garden!   :lol:

I've got two sets of people in town who will save me their leaves...and I mean TONS of leaves...this fall.  One of those persons mulches their leaves, so that comes in handy for putting into the garden and around fruit trees.  The other leaves their leaves whole and those are great for the coop.  Both of those households received eggs this summer.   ;)

Love how these chickens work for me as much as I work for them and this deep litter is just one way they do this.

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Beekissed

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Re: The Value of Deep Litter
« Reply #50 on: December 28, 2016, 05:20 »
Here's some pics of temps in the coop at mid morning today....it was a balmy, breezy 45* outside the coop and this at roost height inside the coop....**All temps in Fahrenheit***



And two different readings of the biomass of DL directly under the roosts at that time....keep in mind this mass hasn't had any moisture added except from the feces, the materials, the humidity in the soil and air. Also keep in mind that this thermometer probe can only go 5 in. deep, so it's likely hotter a little deeper in....





At the most shallow depth under there, it read a mere 85*.

This is a very open air coop with large areas of ventilation at all levels, even right next to this mass. Those stay open all night long too.

Will take readings when the temps drop to single digits and subzero and are sustained to see how much heat is generated if the mass goes dormant from the cold. Not likely to happen any time soon as we are experiencing spring like temps right now.

Warms the flock in the winter months, creates a beneficial microbial life in the coop, gives them warm and dry footing underneath, digests the nightly fecal deposits, no smells in the coop, no flies in the summer, provides endless activity for the flock when they are snowbound in the coop, soft landing when dismounting from the roosts, clean eggs, and best of all?  FREE 

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spud

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Re: The Value of Deep Litter
« Reply #51 on: January 23, 2024, 09:20 »
I never even thought about checking for threads on ''Deep Litter'' , but glad i came across this old one. Ive thoroughly enjoyed reading it and getting ideas for my hopefully new  house and run later this year.
Best Regards,

spud


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