Oct 30, 2013

The Deep Litter Method of Waste Management in Chicken Coops

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.
What IS the Deep Litter Method? (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. With the deep litter method, a carbon-based litter such as pine shavings absorbs nitrogen from chicken droppings, which ferments in an odor-free process to produce a rich, valuable humus just as in a traditional compost pile.

While I personally cannot bring myself to allow waste to accumulate inside my coops, I do not doubt the utility of the deep litter method when executed properly.  I personally prefer sand as a coop litter choice and droppings boards to manage manure. Deep litter can be a time saver for chicken-keepers who use traditional types of litter, but it can also be a health hazard to the flock when implemented incorrectly.  If choosing to employ the built-up litter method, it should be well understood and properly managed.
This is my compost pile behind my chicken coops. We layer it with chicken droppings, leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps and straw from nest boxes.
This is my compost pile behind my chicken coops.
We layer it with chicken droppings, leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps and straw from nest boxes. 

A Little About Composting
The deep litter method of waste management is not very different from ordinary garden composting except in that it occurs inside the chicken coop and the chickens help manage the process. 

Under ideal conditions, composting proceeds through three phases: a moderate-temperature phase, which lasts a coupe of days, a high temperature phase, which can last from a few days to a several months, and a several-month cooling and maturation phase. The various phases are controlled by different communities of microorganisms (bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, protozoa, etc.) and macroorganisms (flies, ants, beetles, etc).1   In order for the various organisms to transform organic matter into valuable garden fertilizer efficiently, they must be fed, oxygenated and watered properly.2
My chickens turn the compost pile regularly. The top, left portion of the photo shows droppings & leaves that were removed from the coop this week, the bottom, right portion of this photo shows seasoned litter and droppings after a few months.
My chickens turn the compost pile regularly. The top, left portion of the photo shows droppings & leaves that were removed from the coop this week, the bottom, right portion of this photo shows seasoned litter and droppings after a few months.

Deep Litter Requirements
1. A carbon-based litter material (pine shavings, leaves, grass clippings, etc.) and droppings, of course, which are nitrogen-based.

2. Oxygen. Proper aeration of the litter is essential. The chickens will take care turning much of the litter, but it must be monitored and areas that are missed or become caked, turned. The less time chickens spend inside the coop, the more turning will have to be performed by the chicken-keeper.

3. Proper coop ventilation. Cross-ventilation and open eaves are ideal. Ensure no drafts exist, particularly over roosts. Excess moisture and ammonia gasses must have a means of escape.

4. Correct moisture balance. Moisture is essential to the process. Droppings consist of 85% water, making it less likely that the litter will become too dry than too wet. Wet litter is a recipe for sick chickens. Stir in any water spills from drinkers and add litter when necessary to prevent matting.
DO begin building up litter in the spring. Deep litter requires months to process properly. It should enter its warmest phase of decomposition in autumn when the heat it generates is a welcome addition.
DOs
DO begin building up litter in the spring. Deep litter requires months to process properly. It should enter its warmest phase of decomposition in autumn when the heat it generates is a welcome addition.
DO start with 4-6 inches of pine shavings. Other litter materials can be added after the composting process is well underway, but don't begin the process with straw, hay, grass, etc.
DO start with 4-6 inches of pine shavings. Other litter materials can be added after the composting process is well underway, but don't begin the process with straw, hay, grass, etc. The smaller the litter pieces, the faster they will break down. Fine shavings will break down faster than flake shavings for example.
DO maintain a litter depth of 4-6 inches. As it decomposes and dwindles in depth, add more litter material. It is usually necessary to build a lip at the entrances to the coop so the litter does not spill out.
DO maintain a litter depth of 4-6 inches. As it decomposes and dwindles in depth, add more litter material. It is usually necessary to build a lip at the entrances to the coop so the litter does not spill out.

DO aerate, aerate, aerate. This process requires oxygen to work and while the chickens will do the bulk of the turning, attention must be paid to neglected areas, particularly wet areas such as those around waterers. If portions of the litter take on an ashy, whitish appearance, the litter must be turned as it is oxygen-deprived. Be sure to break up any caked areas that the chickens haven't turned.
When squeezed and released, this litter did not break up, signalling too much moisture.  More pine shavings or leaves need to be added.
When squeezed and released, this litter did not break up, signalling too much moisture. 
More pine shavings or leaves need to be added.

DO monitor the moisture content. The litter should be equally moist and the same consistency throughout. When stirred, the litter should crumble. When picked up and squeezed in the hand, it should hold its shape initially and then crumble. If it holds together without crumbling or if water can be squeezed out of it, the litter is too wet. If it does not hold its shape momentarily, it is too dry. Stir in any moisture from waterers. Better yet, don't keep the waterer inside the coop. 

DO remove some of the litter when it reaches 12 inches in depth, leaving a couple inches on the floor or the coop to jump-start the next batch.
This is how the litter looks after composting for 8 months to a year or more.
This is how the litter looks after composting for 8 months to a year or more. 
DON'Ts
DON'T use diatomaceous earth inside a coop while employing the deep litter method.  DE is a drying agent- it will dry out the litter and kill the good microorganisms necessary for composting.
DON'T use diatomaceous earth inside a coop while employing the deep litter method.  DE is a drying agent- it will dry out the litter and kill the good microorganisms necessary for composting.
DON'T use straw or hay for the initial base litter material. Neither is absorbent and both can carry mold and fungi, which are detrimental to chicken's respiratory systems. Allow the wood shavings and manure to establish the microorganisms and heat necessary to kill molds and fungus before adding chopped straw or hay.
The growth of the mold and fungus on this straw is the result of anaerobic activity, an enemy of the deep litter system. Turning the litter regularly and maintaining the proper moisture content is necessary to avoid these dangers inside the chicken coop.
The growth of the mold and fungus on this straw is the result of anaerobic activity, an enemy of the deep litter system. Turning the litter regularly and maintaining the proper moisture content is necessary to avoid these dangers inside the chicken coop.

DON'T allow any ammonia odor to build up or remain inside the coop. Ammonia is an indicator that the method is not working properly. Ammonia build up can cause eye and respiratory irritation to the birds and lower their resistance to disease. Ammonia can also negatively impact growth of young birds and egg production in laying hens. Check the coop ventilation and litter moisture level and add more of each if necessary.

DON'T let the bedding get wet and remain wet. Wet litter facilitates the growth of mold, coccidiosis and harmful bacteria, which can make the chickens sick. Wet litter can also cause bumblefoot to develop on chickens' footpads. If possible, keep waterers out of the coop.

DON'T regularly clean the litter out of the coop as removal defeats the purpose of this method, preventing it from growing beneficial organisms, reaching the high heat composting phase and becoming self-sanitizing.
Don't clean out the coop regularly when using the deep litter method.
Don't clean out the coop regularly when using the deep litter method.

DON'T overcrowd the coop and expect deep litter to work. The litter/droppings ratio must be carefully balanced and too many chickens will result in too much poop for the method to work properly. The minimum space requirement per bird inside the coop is four square feet. 

DON'T remove all of the litter at the end of winter/beginning of spring. Leave a couple of inches of the composted litter in the coop and turn the rest out into the garden. The composted litter in the coop will kick-start the next batch. Cleaning out all of the litter eliminates all of the beneficial microbes and the desirable ecosystem that took months to cultivate. Why waste it?  I like to think of the mature, inoculated litter as the "mother," just as we use a mother in making of apple cider vinegar. The mother is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and other microbes, which hastens the production of the next batch and is worth its weight in gold.

DON'T continue using deep litter after disease has been identified in the flock. Clean out the litter, sanitize the coop and start from scratch with fresh pine shavings after the health issue has been resolved.
DON'T continue using deep litter after disease has been identified in the flock. Clean out the litter, sanitize the coop and start from scratch with fresh pine shavings after the health issue has been resolved.
The Dangers of Deep Litter
When managed incorrectly, deep litter will produce toxic ammonia gasses, harbor parasites such as Capillaria worms and harmful bacteria, endangering the health of the flock.  Deep litter that is too dry will be dusty and can carry airborne spores that are detrimental to chickens' respiratory health. If you don't think you can manage the deep litter system properly, it's safer to use an alternate coop litter program and do the composting outside the coop.  
Sand: The Litter Superstar
 The Chicken Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
This article was shared here: Tilly's Nest

Sources & further reading:
1. http://compost.css.cornell.edu/microorg.html
2. http://web.extension.illinois.edu/homecompost/science.cfm
Raising Chickens for Dummies, Willis & Ludlow, Wiley Publishing, 2009.
Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, Damerow, Gail. Storey Publishing, 1995.

66 comments :

  1. Molly Plunkett10/30/13, 11:18 AM

    Wow, thank you for this!
    I've tried to use the deep litter method, but I never realized that straw was not a good base... this is very good to know!

    I have a field that has been permitted to return to meadow, would the tall grasses from there be a better alternative?

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  2. Thank you for posting this - I've read about people doing it, but being new to chicken care, I had no idea what it was. In reading about it, I think I'll pass and not go that route.

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  3. Another great and very informative article. The only thing I'll add is that you need the right coop to do this. City dwellers that have little coops for 4-5 hens, you can't deep litter method on those coops. They are just too small. The build up of material is too much and the coop is too small to properly ventilate. I know this first hand. I tried.

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  4. TheChickenChick10/30/13, 12:31 PM

    I'm going to disagree, Amy. Every coop should be capable of being properly ventilated regardless of the litter system chosen. If it's not ventilated enough for deep litter, it's not ventilated enough for chickens to live in.

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  5. TheChickenChick10/30/13, 12:32 PM

    My pleasure. I'm glad it helped you make your decision!

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  6. Jill Klancic10/30/13, 12:50 PM

    You continue to blow me away. Everything I'm learning from you is going to give me more fun time with my chicks! Thank you for all the knowledge you are so willing to share I'm so glad a friend of mine shared your post on Facebook.

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  7. But how would you proper ventilate a 3' by 3' coop that is just 2.5' tall inside? If I leave all the windows and vents open, then they'll have no protection from the wind as their roost is right at that height. And if I add enough shavings to absorb the droppings from my 8lb birds, then the pop door gets blocked w/ in a month.

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  8. Cassidy Bradshaw10/30/13, 1:09 PM

    Interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Jackie Hahn-Winans10/30/13, 2:06 PM

    I do the deep litter method, but do clean the coop every day, but what I miss makes wonder soil, I turn it over lot to mix the shavings

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  10. Jess Knowles Lane10/30/13, 2:17 PM

    We successfully do DL in our two 4'x6' coops, but I prefer sand. Typically I do sand from spring to mid-fall, but switch to DL for the cold months. Works like a charm.

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  11. As always, very good information, thank you

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  12. TheChickenChick10/30/13, 5:45 PM

    Any chance you could protect the entire coop from wind somehow? I'd leave all the vents open as long as no drafts can get in.

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  13. TheChickenChick10/30/13, 5:45 PM

    Thank you Jill. I'm glad your friend shared too! :)

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  14. I did deep litter last year in my 4 x 4 ft. tractor which housed 3 hens and it worked beautifully. I used pine shavings, dried leaves and grass and it easily composted. We now have a larger, walk-in coop and I've had to begin my deep litter from scratch. I recommend inoculating the litter with soil from the garden or woods. Not bagged dirt, certainly not DE. Dirt from the woods floor is best as it contains those little leaf-eating critters and bacteria. This jump-started the decomposition process in my new coop. My vet recommends deep-litter, as well, due to the immunities it appears to impart to the chickens.

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  15. Susan Frank Cooper10/30/13, 10:01 PM

    I wish I'd read this before I cleaned out my coop a couple of weeks ago!

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  16. The idea with compost is that you have to manage the Carbon to Nitrogen ratio. While the C:N ratio is high with wood as a litter, the carbon is just not available quickly enough. I have noticed that the sawdust I get from a local sawmill does not break down quickly enough to feed the bacteria that would absorb ammonia before it is released to the air. Wood shavings would be the same: wood simply does not decay quickly enough for the nitrogen to be absorbed into the decay organisms. I have found that adding a hand-full of sugar per 5 gallon bucket of sawdust takes care of the smell.

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  17. I've done deep litter so many years, it wasn't even called deep litter back then. Many old timers have done this successfully for years. I tried the sand method in one of my chicken houses last year, and didn't care for it at all. Two of the neighboring farms didn't care for the sand method, either. Deep litter keeps the chicken houses warm through the winter and makes the best crumbly compost for gardens. i use pine from the woods that have been run through a chipper, then straw from the rye grass field...all organic.

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  18. Rosalie Almas10/31/13, 2:00 PM

    I love using sand. I need my coop to be clean!

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  19. Chickney Park11/1/13, 2:20 PM

    I'm a newcomer here, been a chicken raiser for 8 years, an active organic gardener for over 20 years and love your informative posts. I would add to this topic by sharing that I let my chickens do most of the actual composting outside in their covered run which is about 24' x 15' + an uncovered area which is about same size. We get all our composting needs fulfilled this way with practically no effort! We free range for a few hours every day. Thanks for all your great articles.

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  20. Chickney Park11/1/13, 2:26 PM

    I forgot to add that I use a mix of pine shavings and straw and turn it with a pitch fork every few days and add more straw once a week. We usually have 12-24 chickens. We throw all the garden weeds (not noxious types) and harvested plants into the run as well. It is a very simple system and avoids the turning of compost bins which I like. Avoid leaving food the chickens won't eat as it attracts varmints! Hope this helps someone.

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  21. Perfect timing with this post. I had used sand all summer and LOVED it. Being in northern New England, I am worried about our Ladies being cold throughout the upcoming winter months. So, I removed all the sand in the coop and began using the DL method. I lasted one week. Yup - that's it. It drove me batty to leave all their droppings in the coop! I'm glad it works well for some chicken-keepers, but I did go back to sand at the end of the week. My hens must think I'm crazy! Thank you for your awesome blog. :)

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  22. TheChickenChick11/3/13, 1:19 AM

    Thanks for your comment, Sarah. I'm of the same mind, can't do deep litter- too yucky!

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  23. Beth Hardin11/4/13, 2:45 PM

    Thanks for the info!

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  24. Debbie Jaynes11/4/13, 4:14 PM

    I have a question about the deep litter method. I have a 4x4 coop that is about 2' off the ground so it has a wood bottom. I have about 4-6" of pine shavings in the bottom and have had it that way since July/August and haven't had any problems but when I do go in and stir up the bedding it is dry and kind of dusty. Do I need to spray it with water to dampen it? I have 6 hens. There is also food and a watering nipple in the coop but I have a small tray that catches any water that may drip from the nipple. Is there something that I am doing wrong that the liter is dry? Appreciate any advise. Deb

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  25. Debbie Jaynes11/4/13, 4:20 PM

    Can you use sand in a raised coop with a wood floor? Do you use play sand that you can buy at the local hardware store?

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  26. Alison Carter Henry11/4/13, 8:01 PM

    I've only had my chickens since this past April, I will only use sand. It's much easier to keep the run and coop clean! Thank you for the explanation of both methods!

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  27. TheChickenChick11/4/13, 8:45 PM

    Thanks Alison. :)

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  28. TheChickenChick11/4/13, 9:10 PM

    I don't know of any reason why you could not use sand in a raised coop, Debbie. Regardless of the litter used, I would put linoleum on top of the wood to protect it. Droppings are 85% water and a wood floor is going to deteriorate over time if you do not protect it with something. Plus, the covering will make cleaning easier.
    Play sand is not what you want to use. Please read this: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/09/chicken-coop-bedding-sand-litter.html

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  29. TheChickenChick11/4/13, 9:11 PM

    Yes, you can spray it if the litter does not hold together and then fall apart the way described.

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  30. Sheila Claxton11/4/13, 9:47 PM

    great reading!

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  31. Karen Lawrence11/5/13, 12:07 AM

    fingers crossed for the scale

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  32. Christy Bender11/7/13, 10:53 AM

    Very helpful!

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  33. Paula Carroll11/17/13, 2:28 PM

    Jess, I'm new to chickens. Just got 6 in late Aug. I live in a Boston suburb and I am concerned about keeping the flock warm this winter. My small coop is raised off of the ground about 18". I will not be providing supplemental heat, so I am planning on the deep litter method.I'm a bit nervous but thinking it will all go well. I was planning on using sand in the cooler months. Any tips on converting from one method to the other?

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  34. Paula Carroll11/17/13, 2:37 PM

    Help!! I'm so torn as to what method to use. My only concern in not using sand is that I live just South of Boston, my small coop is about 18" off of the ground and I will not be supplying supplemental heat. I don't want my girls to get cold. That is why I thought DL and the heat it will generate would be better off for my coop in the New England winter. Any thoughts?!

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  35. TheChickenChick11/17/13, 7:03 PM

    If I didn't think sand was the better litter choice, I would not be using sand in my coops. I live in northernmost Connecticut, we have the same winters you have. Don't gauge your chickens' comfort level based upon your own. They are not people and they come with pre-installed down jackets. ;)

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  36. Beverly Pirtle11/24/13, 9:15 PM

    Well, I have combination pine shavings in the bottom, then some straw on top of that. I try to cover the daily poop with the straw/pine shavings combo, sort of scooting it around. The hens have scratched a lot of the straw to the outside of the coop/shed when the door is open. It has been like this for several weeks. They used to be in a much smaller hand built coop and I cleaned out their poop daily, then changed pine shavings weekly. What should I do now, since winter is already here? I am also still insecure about venting. There is about a 1/2 to 1 inch irregular spacing between the roof and the sides of the aluminum shed. Several people have advised me that this is enough. This is my first winter with hens. The coop actually smells good to me, like fresh hay. And it has gotten so cold so fast that the droppings are freezing.....thank you.....

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  37. I have a question for you: How cold is too cold inside the coop? Is it safe to assume that if the birds are eating, drinking, laying and scratching that it is not too cold? Last week when the temperature was down in the 20s below, the water in my coop did not freeze. However I did have a condensation problem. We are going to install another vent tomorrow - now that it is warmed up enough to work on the coop. Normally I leave the chicken door open (It has a towel hanging in front to stop drafts and sparrows) and only shut it at night when it was below zero. I know that it was at least 35 degrees warmer inside than outside, because the water did not freeze. I do keep my water inside because it never really warms up above freezing here for several months. I have not , even on the coldest day (25 below zero) seen them huddling or in other ways showing they are cold. They are also just coming out of their molt and laying more each day. I have 24 birds in my 8x10 coop. I have another 3 walled outer coop, fully roofed and protected from the prevailing wind.

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  38. TheChickenChick12/17/13, 12:04 AM

    Their behavior is a good way to gauge how they feel.

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  39. arunwasteservices.co.uk1/1/14, 11:44 PM

    Hello,
    Waste Management would
    like to remind everyone of the “do's and don'ts” of recycling. With
    changes to our ability to export waste to China, there is growing
    importance on conscientious recycling practices here at home.
    arunwasteservices.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  40. How did you like the sand method? I use shavings and can't seem to "get" the sand idea. Does it offer any warmth? And by the way, it will get to MINUS 2 in NE Ohio in the next few days and I am out to clean the coop, I clean it every 2 weeks in the winter when they spend a lot of the time inside. Can't do the DL method either, for the same reason you can't!

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  41. Maria B Clarke1/5/14, 8:40 PM

    Me to I find sand doesnot dry out in winter but freeze

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  42. Toesinsand1/6/14, 1:27 PM

    Is this method recommended for warmer climates, too? I live in Sacramento, CA.

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  43. TheChickenChick1/7/14, 12:14 AM

    I would not recommend it in warm climates

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  44. TheChickenChick1/7/14, 12:17 AM

    It will freeze if it is WET.

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  45. i have just built a new coop, with two enclosed outdoor runs and plan on getting the baby chicks this weekend. I live in Virginia, where i can get quite toasty in the summers. I was planning on putting sand down inside the coop and leaves and compost, etc in the outdoor runs as I would love for the chickens to aerate the stuff themselves as well as create a habitat for bug critters to develop so the chickens can eat them. Does this sound like a good plan or no? I get confused reading posts talking about coops--do people mean indoor space or does that also include outdoor runs? Many thanks for your help!

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  46. TheChickenChick3/29/14, 1:16 AM

    When I speak of a "coop," I am referring to the chicken house. When I use the term "run," I am referring to the outdoor enclosure. I recommend using sand in both the coop and run. You will find that sand is much easier to keep clean than leaves, etc.

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  47. Lynette Watson8/21/14, 11:30 AM

    Thanks! Glad to know I'm on the right track. Only thing I missed was the ledge for keeping litter in. Wow, do I have a mess to Kleenex up!:)

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  48. Deep litter method won't be for me. Our temps get down to -30 &-40. I'm not going to ventilate enough for it at those temps!

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  49. Tina VandenHeuvel8/21/14, 11:38 PM

    So you recommend sand in both. Just put it right over the dirt ( course sand ) do you use shavings in the coop at all. And how does the sand work in the winter months, doesn't it freeze and become hard? Also do you use DE at all if not what do you use for mites/lice. Yes I am a new mother hen🐥

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  50. I've got articles on all of those topics, Here's the sand one for starters, Tina: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/09/chicken-coop-bedding-sand-litter.html

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  51. Tina VandenHeuvel9/1/14, 9:01 PM

    Thanks chicken chick 🐣

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  52. Tina VandenHeuvel9/8/14, 4:01 PM

    Thanks for your replie Can I put the sand right on the ground or should I have a wood floor in the coop

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  53. Lots of people use Sweet PDZ like a litter box in the droppings board underneath the roost.

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  54. Can I use Sweet PDZ for my poop boards? Or would that not be cost effective?

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  55. Hey, have u tried the red chicken nipples...so they leak enough to ruin a wood floor?

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  56. I am trying the deep litter method and I thought the chickens were stirring it up good, but I took a garden rake and turned it over and it was only stirred up a couple inched deep, so I'll go out once a week and stir it with a rake. Only takes about 5 minutes.

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  57. I tried the deep litter method last year and it worked all right, but I believe I would like to switch to sand. I have too many sq. ft. of coop space for the cost of pine shavings. I think sand would be more cost effective and time efficient too!

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  58. I know!. i have had good compost and good results with my stirring the droppings regular AND it is so much easier to scoop the droppings off of the leaves/straw rather than rake wet droppings INTO the dirt making the dirt/sand wet and creating an Amonia smell, OMG *** But after reading the First Article that was posted about "removing all the droppings because of moisture it puts in the air", 2 days ago i raked it all to the bare ground". OMG. guess I'll start over with leaves again and allow the chickens to keep it scratched clea!. THEN I will use it in the garden when I feel like it gets too deep, just like I have been doing. THIS seems to work better for us living in Central Oklahoma. Hugs. (i experienced my first "Egg Bound" hen)

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  59. Do you leave the hatch to the coop open at night when in the winter months? If not when do you let them out? Also,I don't want them to run around the yard during winter. Is it OK just to keep in fencing area.

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  60. equine addict11/3/14, 4:58 PM

    Um....I think I would rather clean my coop and put all that good stuff to use in the garden during the winter. I am a horse owner and just can't abide this method. Are you really going to tell me there are no fumes from their waste? Not good for any ones lungs. Ewww

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  61. equine addict11/3/14, 5:01 PM

    What is this "waiting to be approved"? Really? So only nice socially acceptable to you comments get posted?

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  62. equine addict11/3/14, 5:03 PM

    I guess I just don't get this.....I have asked for help and my request never showed. I seriously need some advise and I have to be approved? Thanks. I will look else where.

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  63. Sandra Lycans Pitts12/1/14, 1:38 PM

    So when the coop starts getting full or should i say higher. I need to shovel off the top layer?

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  64. Last night I put out a video and blog post about using the deep litter method. A viewer reminded me of this article and I'm glad they did. Mostly I use deep litter in the chicken and duck runs. I have been using sand inside the closed up coops for a long while now. I quickly edited my blog post to include a link to this post. You present lots of great information and I'd like to help share it.

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  65. I use deep litter bedding in the outdoor run and it works great. I use oak leaves for my bedding. I collect the leaves every fall and store them in leaf bags until I need them during the year. I put approximately one stuffed full bag of oak leaves in a month to keep the process working. I live in NC and the summers get hot and the winters get some freezing nights. I use wood chips in the coop and dump them in the run to decompose, too. My hens keep the littler turned over and well mixed up looking for bugs and worms that thrive in the decomposing litter. It is a win-win situation for me. In fact, I find that my hens eat significantly less food with this method due to all the bugs they eat in the litter. I would think that this method would not work well with a high chicken load though, since the dropping might overwhelm the ability of the leaves to eliminate odor. I have 3 chickens in a 6 by 12 ft run.

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  66. Penny Belzer1/31/15, 10:31 AM

    Just looked at the weather report here in Leola, PA, and it is going to go below zero at night for the next full week. My girls are all 1 year old or older. 2 EE's,1 each BO, BR, SS, and a BCM with a Silkie Dad. LOL, Looks like Mom with the exception of black skin, silkie comb, and 5 toes. Anyway they have never been below 10 degrees. Should I consider a heat source? They are blocked from all wind in their coop, but this is not normal for around here. Coop has sand in it, and is very dry. I hate this for them. I grease up there waddles and combs every now and then. They get fresh water every day or two. It has a heater in it. They get black oil sunflower seeds and cracked corn for treats because I heard it helps keep them warm. Any other suggestions? I trust your judgment. Thanks in advance.

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