Does The Deep Litter Method Really Work? A Report One and a Half Years In

We decided early on to use the “deep litter method” in our chicken coop. We didn’t want to spend our time scraping chicken poop off a hardpan dirt floor. The girls have seemed to enjoy their straw floor (though they’re terrified when we move the straw around), and we sprinkle in more whenever things start to smell. It really hasn’t smelled, and we feel our deep litter experiment has been a great success.

Though people generally do a thorough cleaning once a year in deep litter chicken coops, late May (the anniversary of the chicken’s coop move-in) came and went, and we just didn’t get around to it. We are really busy and kind of lazy, so if something doesn’t obviously need doing, we don’t always get around to it.

Yesterday I had a positively heavenly day of poking around in the garden—the first such day in months. For most of the day, it was ADD gardening: I wandered around pulling weeds as they caught my eye, sweeping paths, and lying down between beds to watch the sky and enjoy the unseasonable warmth.

In the late afternoon, I realized I should apply myself toward mucking out the coop. An hour and a half and seven full wheelbarrows later, I was hungry, cranky, sorry for myself, and finished cleaning the coop.

Rather than refill with fresh straw, Kelly and I took advantage of a bin of newly raked leaves, provided by our fabulous neighbors. We are excited to try this straw alternative for several reasons. First, leaves are free; second, they bring more insect life into the coop for the girls to enjoy; and third, these leaves are organic. We have yet to find organic straw, and shudder to think what herbicides the girls (and the soil) are exposed to.

Here’s to another year of deep litter!

Petunia--always one to keep us in line.

Petunia–always one to keep us in line.

I raked up the old straw and carted across the garden in a wheelbarrow.

I raked up the old straw and carted across the garden in a wheelbarrow.

 

As the coop looked when I'd finished raking. The chickens were so flustered by the raking process that Kelly took them out for a supervised walk in the garden.

As the coop looked when I’d finished raking. The chickens were so flustered by the raking process that Kelly took them out for a supervised walk in the garden.

 

The girls explore their new turf. We will see how the leaves perform compared with he straw.

The girls explore their new turf. We will see how the leaves perform compared with he straw.

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