The deep litter method is a chicken coop system based on repeated layering of organic materials on the floor. I have been, or can be if you click on a link and make a purchase, compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value for writing this post. What you can’t see in that pile of chicken poop in the coop is that microscopic organisms are hard at work breaking down the droppings. Once you have this method working in your coop, it’s only necessary to partially clean out the litter when the bedding gets too deep. Forgetting to stir the poo into the bedding – especially under the roost where it accumulates at night. Coops using the deep litter method properly don’t stink, at all! They give a nice fresh scent to the coop as well! The descriptions floating around these days are more folklore than fact. In this article, I’ll tell you why the deep litter method is not only great for your birds, but also for you and your garden. Eventually the litter level builds up to 12 or more inches, because you only change the bedding every six months or a year with the deep litter method. This will help deter bugs, and absorb excess moisture and ammonia. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. Note: if you are using the Deep Litter Method, DE should not be used since it will kill the good microbes and also isn't beneficial to have in your composted soil. Your idea sounds very good to me but since I haven’t been around chickens coops in years. This continues as needed to keep the chickens on clean bedding. 3)! don't have an online As a side note, cedar shavings should not be used, as it can be harmful to the chickens’ respiratory system. The deep litter method works best in non-commercial applications when the depth is between eight inches and eighteen. If you’re using First Saturday Lime, sprinkle a layer of lime on your floor first, whether it be plywood, cement, laminate, or dirt. I start off by adding approximately 3” of shavings to the floor of my coop. It also gives you some excellent compost for your garden or flower beds the following year! You’re absolutely right, Sarah. Then the … Then as the chickens or ducks soil it, add another layer right on top. You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only). Canadian Subscribers - Click Here Setting up a Deep Litter System: For initial set up of Deep Litter fill your roosting area with a layer about 4-6″ deep … Leave a little when you change the bedding so that those good bacteria already have a good headstart with the new layer. The Deep Litter method for poultry bedding is a favorite here at the Best Organic Homestead because it is natural, user friendly, labor saving, and healthy for our birds. But, let me tell you, this is one of the greatest time saving ideas in raising chickens. Does this work with hay? Thanks Lisa! Please let me know in the comments if you have any other labor-saving tricks! It’s also great for the chickens because the breaking down of the litter into compost naturally releases heat into the coop, helping to keep the birds warm. As a gardener, I would add the manure compost in the fall after the garden is done. So how do you begin using the deep litter method? Well it did and it seem to be working I been turning it every day when I scrap off the roost bars. The deep litter system makes it so you only have to clean out your henhouse just once a year! To begin, start with a clean coop. Begin with Dry Bedding. Storey's Guide To Raising Turkeys, 3Rd Edition, Chicken Coops - 45 Building Plans For Housing Your Flock, Natural Cold Storage: Fresh Food in Winter, Keeping Crops Cool During Hot Weather: 13 Ways to Beat the Heat, Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price. As it breaks down, it creates a biome that works to destroy harmful bacteria in the litter. Deep Litter Method and Hemp Bedding. Will be following. I thought straw would work in a pinch, but it just doesn’t. This step is optional, but does help create a barrier for moisture, odor, and pests. What is the Deep Litter Method? The deep litter method is my absolute favorite coop bedding method. All of our chicken coops come with a deep litter bed allowing you to use the deep litter method with your chickens. These are the essential items for regular compost, and the DLM effectively helps break these down into rich compost. This biome actually promotes the health of your chickens. The Deep Litter system is a tradition in poultry management going back decades. It controls odors, keeps bad bacteria at bay (while using the good bacteria), and even heats the chicken coop slightly. It describes the method of actually letting the coop become dirty. Here’s the deep litter method in an eggshell: Start by spreading a 3- to 4-inch layer of clean litter on the floor of the coop. Required fields are marked *. Any less, and you lose the mass to absorb normal moisture levels in the coop. Let’s talk about it more to see if the deep litter method is right for your chickens. But it seems like many poultry owners are confused about the Deep Litter method. The best bedding is pine shavings. Your first choice is to dump the manure into your existing compost bin. I love using pine shavings. Being cheep I though that if I turn it ,it will dry out . This system greatly reduces the time and expense of keeping chickens. Table of Contents #1 Choose your chicken's deep litter material #2 Find the density of your deep litter #3 Calculate the floor space of your poultry house. I love the smell of a good compost after it starts breaking down - so why wouldn't the chickens (smile)! Although we used pine shavings, I had thought about using straw when I run out of shavings. This keeps your birds out of their own waste, making a much cleaner and healthier environment. You only have to clean out the coop once in the spring, and maybe once in the fall. Once in a while you get a whiff of something, but then I just go and aerate the bedding with a garden trowel and add more pine shavings. Great way of changing the perspective! Since pine shavings are small, they don’t clump together and become a mat. Done right, it allows for far less coop cleaning chores, a healthier flock, a warmer flock in … Only use straw in a very dry area. I often run across this confusion in blogs and facebook posts. Deep litter coop maintenance is all about balancing the beneficial microbe levels to allow the manure & litter to decompose in the coop. Put simply, the Deep Litter Method of managing chicken waste is a technique which creates a sustainable method of managing chicken litter inside the coop for the long term. Your email address will not be published. Any deeper than eighteen inches and you eventually create a hard pack of compressed shavings at the bottom of your litter. It's easy to do, very low maintenance and perfect for winter. Even though we both grew up having chickens, to be responsible for them is a different story. Your email address will not be published. While most people may think the deep litter method is unsanitary, it’s really not. If your chickens are overcrowded they will quickly create more waste then the litter can handle. Thanks, Marla! We're getting ready to get into the chicken business (small flock of about 8 - 10 hens)Wondering if you could use clay kitty litter scattered in the coop to control moisture. If you manage the deep litter properly, your chickens will have a dry, fluffy and absorbent floor to enjoy, and you will have a happier, healthier flock with less maintenance. It’s employed by many homesteaders and veterinarians like myself. Works great. I can use it with no problem in all of my other coops and it works perfectly. As the litter breaks down, it basically composts inside the coop. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. They will actually get pushed down into the soil and make it even more mucky. Deep Litter Beds. If your chickens are overcrowded they will quickly create more waste then the litter can handle. The deep litter method is great for us in winter because it means we have to spend less time freezing our buns off while cleaning the coop. It saves quite a bit of work and it is very clean and efficient. The Deep Litter Method. This is a great... Add Directly to Your Garden. International Subscribers - Click Here Deep Litter Method Advantage #2: A Healthier Flock. Like to read more content, Join the Mother Earth News Community Today. What Is Deep Litter Method. Only use hay in a dry area. Except, instead of food scraps, you are composting chicken poop. The Carbon to Nitrogen ratio must be correct. Thanks for this article! Problems Using Deep Litter Method. But if your run gets wet and muddy during the rainy months, you really shouldn’t use the deep litter method there. Rather than a thorough clean-out, you simply add small amounts of hemp bedding as you go, and let the microbial life do the work of decomposition. This keeps your birds out of their own waste, making a much cleaner and healthier environment. Except, the deep litter method never works for me in the big coop! Thanks Betty, glad you found it valuable! Have you ever used the deep litter method? And it tends to build-up with a heavy ammonia odor. We were already overly cautious in everything we did – because we were first time chicken owners. The deep litter method is the “lazy way” of raising chickens. First, it saves you from doing the tedious chore of cleaning pens in miserable weather. Allow the whole thing to air dry before letting your chickens back into the coop. If you’re just starting on your backyard chicken journey, you might want to check out our e-book, Raising Chickens For a Natural, Self-Sufficient Lifestyle. There are a few potential options for litter in chicken coops including hay, straw, sand, pine pellets, and pine shavings. The Deep Litter Method in a Nutshell You might have to stick with frequent cleanings until you get your population number down. It will have time to rot more all winter. Deep litter is an animal housing system, based on the repeated spreading of straw or sawdust material in indoor booths. (aka: Built-Up Litter System) Deep litter is a method of chicken waste management that calls for droppings and bedding material to compost inside the chicken coop instead of being cleaned out and replaced regularly. The deep litter bedding system has been widely touted and has become a trend. Why choose the deep ... Read More about Why The Deep Litter Method Is Healthier For You And Your Flock What is that? Instead of scooping out and replacing chicken coop litter frequently, you allow the manure and bedding material to accumulate and decompose inside the coop. Sign in with your online account. The birds get to scratch through the microbes and beneficial culture of the living compost litter … I know it may seem counter-intuitive that cleaning your coop less often is actually healthier … The great news is that these beneficial microbes will also … After the coop cleanup, I usually rake up the run as well, even though I don’t use shavings there. So it should be a fabulous base to start your own compost. Deep Litter can be controversial, but once you know how it works, it’s a great way to keep your chickens safe and warm. It’s only about $5/bag, so it is very economical. This will mix the manure into the shavings, which in turn starts the decomposition process. Sort by reaction score Thread starter Crax; Start date Nov 6, 2020; 1; 2; Next. I’m confused, you talk about not using straw and then using it. Deep litter method. Dry grass clippings or leaves, straw, or wood shavings all work well. Thanks to this, I won’t be using it! Jun 8, 2017 - The Deep Litter Method is the chicken bedding of choice for farmers and homesteaders all over the world. One of the things that we wanted to try, but our parents never did, was the deep chicken litter method. Register now to get access to ALL current video workshops and prerecorded webinars plus anything new that we add through the end of 2020. Or you can check into Chip Drop. This post may be shared on Family Homesteading and Off The Grid Blog Hop, Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Farm Fresh Tuesday, and Old Paths to New Homesteading & Self-Reliant Living. Some farms offer free aged manure. Glad to hear the deep litter method works well there. Straw, since it is hollow, harbors lice and mites, and gets extremely heavy when wet. Plus, it means you’re scooping a lot less chicken Here’s the deep litter method in an eggshell: Start by spreading a 3- to 4-inch layer of clean litter on the floor of the coop. I’m a newbie! Thank you. Keep in mind, that a good ratio of browns to greens in compost is 30:1. Dried leaves can also be used, but they are best used in conjunction with one or more of the other materials. We don’t get super-frigid below zero temps here (normally). In this fashion, a deep litter bedding can build up to depths of 1–2 meters. I think of it as the “lazy” way of raising chickens! Disinfect the roost bars, and if possible, the whole coop, with a very diluted bleach solution. I’m planning on trying sand at some point, since our run gets pretty mucky. These are the essential items for regular compost, and the DLM effectively helps break these down into rich compost. Then the deep litter method is for you! How NOT to get started with meat chickens (pt. Since it’s typically in longer pieces, it is a little harder to turn. The Deep Litter method is essentially composting in place. Leaves can tend to mat together, and can be difficult to turn. Deep litter Method: I don't know about you, but I like to make the most efficient use of my time. I am considering raising backyard chickens so I'm reading everything I see regarding that topic. I talked about using straw because that’s what I tried first, but have since found that pine shavings are definitely the way to go! Thank you for bringing this up – I have edited the post accordingly. The chickens add manure, which they shred as they scratch around, it eventually disappears into the bedding. We have used the deep litter method during our winters, and it does work great! When the first layer is soiled, a new layer of fresh litter is added on top. Deep litter method. This method helps to give layers from the cold of the coop floor as well as insulate as the litter grows in size. The finer the high-carbon material, the faster it will begin composting. Back when we used this we had stalls made specifically for this method, the aisle was a foot higer than the floors of the stalls. To increase absorption, add some clay. Farmers and homesteaders all over the world use the deep litter method on their chicken coop floor because it just makes sense. It is called the "Deep Litter Method." Talk about a win-win! First of all if I told you I only cleaned my chicken coop once a year, with just a few minutes spent every week maintaining the litter, you would probably think that I was a little crazy. Great post, Shawna! It’s also great for the chickens because the breaking down of the litter into compost naturally releases heat into the coop, helping to keep the birds warm. Too much pile up and an ammonia smell can develop and the chickens are more susceptible to disease, respiratory issues etc. 1 of 2 Go to page. Hay can get very dusty and will also get very heavy when wet. So how do you begin using the deep litter method? I hate to refer to it as the lazy way of raising chickens how about the “I don’t want to spend too much time outside in the winter cleaning the coop” method!? If some of the fresher manure hasn’t thoroughly decomposed, simply add it to another compost pile. At MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. Discussion Starter • #1 • Feb 18, 2010. The deep litter method focuses on using carbon-based material (the pine shavings that is the base for your chicken litter), and nitrogen-based material (the manure and urine from the chickens). They will turn it themselves! This is what we do up here in Alaska. Over the course of a year, the litter will become 8 to 12 inches deep. We use the same method for our chickens. For years I've mucked out my coop on a monthly basis. This not only makes things easier for you, the chicken keeper, but also makes it healthier for your flock. The deep litter method is simply covering the floors and ground in the coop and run with the “litter” of your choice. Hi Shawna, When I was growing up many years ago we had chickens on our farm but things we done so differently then. This method consists of starting with a few inches of litter on the chicken coop floor. In the spring it is almost ready to add to your garden soil. Sort by reaction score Thread starter Crax; Start date Nov 6, 2020; 1; 2; Next. Benefits of deep litter This is probably the easiest and most commonly used option. I think this information was amazing. I do deep litter method and a few weeks ago we had heavy rain and the wind blew rain sideways and it got damp. Fall or early spring is a good time to clean out the coop — but don’t remove all of the litter, advises poultry expert Harvey Ussery in The Small-Scale Poultry Flock. I’ve been doing this method for the last year and it is the best! This means less time and labor for you. The gist of it is that you start with a 12-inch layer of clean bedding, and leave it there for up to a year. You can check it out here. Add a handful of scratch grains or food scraps daily, and your chickens will stir the litter for you, incorporating oxygen to aid decomposition. Well, not any more. Hi! As in compost, beneficial microbes actually help control pathogens, so chickens are less susceptible to diseases. The first layer of litter is spread on the floor of the coop. In the spring and in the fall, I suggest doing a thorough cleanup of your coop and run. I’m not an expert yet, so I’d like to share a great article on the deep litter method. You can email me at [email protected]. How to use the deep litter method to keep your animals warm. account? Finding the volume of deep litter needed for your poultry farm Each time you aerate the substrate, you help the poop and chicken feed break down. For the reason that the admin of this website is working, no doubt very shortly it will be well-known, due to its quality contents. Deep litter method is a new way of thinking. It works best with our longer winters. Go. I get more compacted mud and poop with Hay and the chickens but if there s a better method to not having to clean the coop all by myself every two weeks I am down for this. One of the lost ideas is the deep litter method (deep litter is also called “built-up litter” or “compost litter.” People think they know what the deep-litter system is, but often they don’t. As the chickens deposit their waste into it, the litter is stirred up and more litter is added on top. It goes really in-depth on the subject, with case studies on how it even makes your chickens healthier. One that is not as “hot” as your outdoor compost pile, but does break down biologically. It means less coop cleaning, a healthier flock, a warmer flock through Winter and a rich garden compost for Spring! Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. Raising Chickens For a Natural, Self-Sufficient Lifestyle, Family Homesteading and Off The Grid Blog Hop. Although I use the deep litter method year-round, it’s fairly thin throughout the summer. First off we Clean our coop out once a year. If you do use dried leaves, you may want to turn it more often to lessen the compaction. To begin, start with a clean coop. You might have to stick with frequent cleanings until you get your population number down. Help! How do I know what I can use now for compost? The Deep Litter Method is a process of layering bedding on top of bedding essentially creating a compost-like setting inside your coop. Each deep litter bed is made with food safe USDA, FDA, and NFS-approved high density polyethylene (HDPE). Such a learning curve! The deep litter method is simply covering the floors and ground in the coop and run with the “litter” of your choice. About once a week, I use a pitchfork or a rake and turn over the litter. They work great. I've never done deep litter bedding with shavings, only with sawdust. My run is just dirt. You can find Vicki on Google+. Does anyone here bed stalls using the deep litter method? Deep litter method is based on allowing the coop and other forms of litter to grow with the passage of time. Hi, thanks for stopping by. Of course there are different ways to go about how to do the upkeep on your coop in the winter time, but this is a method I have tried and loved. It also gives you some excellent compost for your garden or flower beds the following year! Put a generous amount of pine shavings in the coop. I didn’t have chickens when I was young, just got around to getting them a couple years ago. Also, what about horse manure compost? When done properly the Deep Litter method does not smell, flies are more or less non-existent and the bedding only needs to be replaced every 12-18 months. I’ve heard about the “deep litter” method for raising chickens. We use the deep litter method in our chiken coop. I’m ready to remove it from the henhouse, leaving a layer of “starter” as suggested. If this is cost-prohibitive for you, you may be able to check with a mill or cabinet shop to get their shavings and sawdust. Read on to find out why deep litter bedding might be the best choice for your chicken’s coop!