Animal Enrichment and Welfare

The Deep Litter Method

I finally decided to research about the deep litter method for this post! I’ve read a few articles, watched a few videos… and now I’m ready to write my own post about what to do and what not to do.

What is the deep litter method?

For those of you who don’t want to clean out the chicken coop every week, and put down new fresh (expensive😏) bedding each time you clean the coop, then the deep litter method is for you! For those of you who don’t already know, this method is a way of composting your chicken bedding inside of the coop. The only thig you have to do to it, is turn it every day, (the chickens will help, but it’s always still good to do it again anyways) and after 1 year if everything went smoothly you should have nice composted material for your garden!

What you should do:

  • Use a bedding that will absorb a lot of moisture but still be considered a “brown” composting material for the bottom layer. Most of the deep litter systems that I’ve seen use pine shavings. A majority of them said not to use straw(for the bottom layer), and definitely don’t use sand because it won’t work at all(for either the top or bottom layer)! Straw can be still be used on top of pine shavings.
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  • Keep the moisture down in your coop! If you live in a particular humid climate, some people use clay to help absorb more moisture. If you do not have high humidity simply have lot’s of good ventilation, and you should be all set. The President of Chickenlandia made a video on the deep litter method and she talks about how she uses clay:
  • Remember to turn your bedding every single day! This will aerate the compost and help to reduce any ammonia that could build up inside of the coop. Chickens can suffer and even die from too much ammonia so it’s definitely something to keep your eye on.
  • Clean the coop completely out once a year, I said “completely” but, you should actually leave a very thin layer still in the coop to help your new bedding along.
  • If you ever get a sick chicken it is advisable to just clean the whole coop out, this will prevent more sickness from spreading among your flock.
  • It’s important to note that the compost you will be getting won’t be garden ready when you fist take it out of the coop. It will still need a couple months to completely break down so it can be used with your plants.

What you shouldn’t do:

  • Don’t remove any waste from the bedding! You should be adding a thin layer of bedding on top of your pile each week. But, you don’t want to remove anything.
  • Don’t use diatomaceous earth with the deep litter method as it will kill the bacteria that is breaking down the bedding.

Getting started:

  1. Once you have a perfectly clean coop, add a 6″ layer of pine shaving to the bottom. If you want you can add a thin layer of straw on top of this.
  2. Add your chickens!
  3. Every day turn the bedding.
  4. Every week add a thin layer of either pine shavings or straw.
  5. Every year do a deep cleaning of the entire coop.

And those are the basics! Please remember that if something does go wrong you need to do a deep cleaning and start over right away. Things can go wrong, and you need to be keeping a watchful eye and always make sure that your birds are doing fine. Because, we all love our chickens and wouldn’t want anything to happen to them. As always thanks for reading, and I will see you tomorrow!


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