Update on the Deep Litter Method for Coop Cleaning and Maintenance

Hello Meyer Hatchery fans! It’s been 6 months since I wrote about my experience using the Deep Litter Method for maintaining my coop, so I thought it was time to give you an update on how the method is working out for me now that winter is happening here in central Ohio.

First, here’s a little background on my coop and flock size to give you a reference point. My coop is a lean-to style metal structure that was built onto the back of our existing barn. It measures 8 ft by 16 ft and currently houses 45 laying hens and 3 roosters. If you do the calculations (allowing 3-4 sq ft per chicken), I’m only supposed to house 32-43 chickens in a coop this size, but this is real life and you know how chicken math works. Plus, I work for a hatchery!

In spite of having this many chickens in this space, the Deep Litter Method has kept my chickens healthy and active, which is especially important in the winter months when they tend to spend more time inside. How does it keep them active? I discovered a trick that really helps me maintain the deep litter and gives the chickens some activity. At least every other day, I sprinkle scratch grains on top of the bedding. Then I either kick more used bedding from the floor on top of the grain or sprinkle fresh pine shavings on top. This buries the scratch grain just below the surface and makes the chickens scratch around in the bedding looking for the grain. The key to the deep litter method is a daily turning of what is essentially a compost pile. The chickens like to help with that turning. As more manure is added, more dry pine shavings must be added to absorb moisture and the nitrogen from the droppings. I’m currently topping the litter with shavings about 2 times a week.

Giving the chickens a scratch grain treat during the winter also provides them with some extra energy to stay warmer at night, which in turn helps keep the coop warmer. Warm enough, in fact, that I can keep the electric waterer turned off unless the temperature is dipping into the teens.
If you use the Deep Litter method for easier coop maintenance, tell us about it in the comments below. Also, follow us on our social media channels and use the hashtag #realcoops

 

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