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Bedding

Discussion in 'Everything Else Sheep' started by mystang89, May 25, 2017.

  1. May 25, 2017
    mystang89

    mystang89 Overrun with beasties

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    So is thinking of the best way to bed the sheep..... which never occurred to me until after I bought them off course. After doing a little thinking I figured I'd try the deep litter method which I use for the chickens. It works wonderfully for them.

    I did a bit of research and found that for sheep you are left with a huge mess in underneath all the dry stuff which apparently is a pain in the back to clean up.

    Reading some more and I find out that...... well, that's just the way of it. Big mess, big smell, big clean up if done weekly, bigger mess, bigger smell, bigger clean up if done seasonally.

    So some thoughts and questions. If i do the deep litter method and "flip" the straw everyday while adding straw to it if it gets too wet and Stinky will that keep it from matting if I do a thorough clean out seasonally?

    If not what about weekly? Same concept but cleaning out weekly? Or would that be more trouble and wasted hay/straw than anything?

    What are your thoughts and expiriences. What works well for you all? I should say I only have 3 sheep at the moment and probably will not end up with more than 6 in the end, not including Lambings. They will be mainly pasture except for coming into the barn at night. Not sure what will happen during winter.
     
  2. May 25, 2017
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Moderator

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    I would strongly recommend against straw or hay unless you plan to clean out minimally on a weekly basis. Ever heard of a cob house, or know what cob is? Straw mixed with mud and dung and let dry. It's the equivalent of a brick. If you let that compact over time for a year, you may well need a pick axe or jackhammer to get it out. Just MHO.
     
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  3. May 26, 2017
    mysunwolf

    mysunwolf True BYH Addict

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    You must use hay or straw for wool sheep, as pine shavings or anything that fine will get caught up in their wool and your shearer will hate you (oh, and the fleeces will be ruined).

    I personally like straw better than hay, but it's too expensive here. So we use hay, and we clean out at least monthly. If you only clean twice a year, it takes a lot more muscle to get through the thick, heavy, anaerobic mess. I honestly no longer believe in so-called deep litter bedding, except for places where the winters get very cold. Doing "deep litter" with ruminants just means you're not cleaning the barn out as often as it should be IMHO.

    In the winter, we only clean out the barn once or twice the whole season, so this is our version of deep litter. I sprinkle hay/straw over the wet parts of the bedding. Sometimes I shovel the really bad manure or pee spots out daily, then replace with fresh. I NEVER turn the bedding as this brings the ammonia smell up to the surface. Instead, I just pile fresh bedding on top to hide it until I get a chance to clean it out. This works well for us as long as none of our animals have to stay locked inside the barn. We have a drylot "barnyard area" that is just cattle panel fencing surrounding our barn, where the sheep can go stretch their legs in the winter instead of staying cooped up in the barn itself. We also used to use this area for an overnight pen where they would be more protected from predators than out on the field.

    Hope this helps some!
     
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  4. May 26, 2017
    mystang89

    mystang89 Overrun with beasties

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    Thanks for the replies! I'm still not sure what winter will bring or what I'm going to do with the sheep during that time. That'll be another thread further down the line lol.
     
  5. Jul 17, 2017 at 7:53 AM
    mystang89

    mystang89 Overrun with beasties

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    I hate starting new threads so I'll just keep this one going.

    I decided the best method for myself to use was to clean the stalls out on a weekly bases. I take up the hay that I use for bedding, let the area sit for the day and then just before letting the sheep back in, (or sometimes when I'm letting the sheep back in as I forgot during the daytime lol) I will put DE down then throw more hay down as bedding. (I hate using hay as I see it as a waste of food but can't afford straw right now which I read is more absorbent.)

    I really thought this would cut down on how squishy the stall is when I walk in there. The stall is about an 8x8 or 10x10 with only 3 sheep in it. They only stay in the for the night time hours. A day after I clean the stall it is the same as it was, squishy.

    I feel I'm doing something wrong. I don't want to clean it out anymore often as 1. I don't have time and 2. I don't have the hay to throw down to cover it everyday.
     
  6. Jul 17, 2017 at 10:00 PM
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Moderator

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    OK... neither hay nor straw are really "absorbent" and straw much less so than hay as it is much harder and has a waxy coating.

    The problem as I see it is the soil underneath where the stalls are. It sounds to me like it's probably clay, or in a low spot, or both, and therefore, the moisture just sits on top of it and will not absorb down into the ground. My recommendation would be to work on the grading of the immediate area so that it slopes out and away from the bedding area and then lay down a base of crushed stone/dirt that will allow the wetness to perk down through and then "flow" out and away from the stall area along the clay boundary.

    DE will not help with the wetness issue either as IMHO, it is not an absorbent material. There are silica products that are absorbent. DE also won't eliminate odors as again, it is not absorbent in that manner.

    What I might recommend is that you use a product specifically designed to do what you are trying to do. Many folks with horses use "dry stall" or "stall dry" pellets (or other similar products) to absorb moisture, prevent ammonia odor buildup, and make clean up easier and less frequently needed. http://www.drystall.com/best_pine.html http://www.absorbentproductsltd.com/stall-dry-deodorization-and-ammonia-control.html
     
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  7. Jul 17, 2017 at 10:20 PM
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    Do as LS suggested, digging it out, then bed with sand. Put your hay bedding over the sand. Maybe 1-2 times a year, dig out the sand and replace. You will have an enviable compost pile! It can be used in flower beds, vegetable garden or spread on the pasture.
     
  8. Jul 18, 2017 at 6:49 AM
    mystang89

    mystang89 Overrun with beasties

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    OK, I follow you all the way up till you talk about crushed stone /dirt base. Do you mean I should dig out the stall, put a base of crushed stone down then back fill with dirt or that I should grade the area that is remaining soaked, then dig out the area around the parameter of the stall and put the crushed stone/dirt?

    Also, the dirt isn't clay, it is low in that spot though. The residence before me has horses and cows and never cleaned out the stall so the bedding they used plus the excrement stayed there for YEARS until I dug it all out. Slightly difficult to dig that out when I found out about it.

    The DE is put down simply to cut down on the amount of parasites and flies and other insects around. If rather not have to use anything from the store to control the problem if I can simply take proactive steps that will help.

    Btw, thanks for taking the time to help me with this.
     
  9. Jul 18, 2017 at 9:36 AM
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Moderator

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    Ideally (Life should work this way right?) you should add filler gritty dirt, ie; dirt with crushed gravel/stone in it for drainage, to the low area and raise it up so it's higher than the surrounding ground. The animals walking on it will pack it down and it will seem like "concrete" but it won't be and will still allow good the moisture to be wicked away. When the animals urinate on it, the wet will sink down through the soil/rock and spread out seeking the lowest area. That should (with luck and planning) be outside the stall area and even outside the barn. You don't need to dig the area out first (if it were clay, that would be like building a "pool" for the pee to sit in under the rocky soil you'll add), though you obviously can if you wish. You don't have to use crushed stone covered by dirt, though you can... The problem with that is the soil will filter down and fill the gaps in the stone underneath unless you put some sort of barrier to prevent that from happening. You just need soil that has pebbles/crushed rock in it to give "breathing" space for the water to move through to escape. In a perfect world, the site would/should have been leveled/graded with good drainage soil, on a slight slope outward BEFORE the shelter/barn was built. It's always more difficult to fix issues and problems after the fact... much easier and less problems to do it right the first time. :idunno Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
     
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  10. Jul 18, 2017 at 2:12 PM
    mystang89

    mystang89 Overrun with beasties

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    It "MAY" have had some Gravel crushed into it already and it "MAY" been removed by someone who didn't know why in this crazy world someone would put gravel in the dirt for the barn....... /blush

    Thanks. I will try to find some gravel laying around and mix the dirt with it, mounding it up in the middle so it can drain off to the sides.

    Just to be clear, it would be best if the entire stall floor was dirt gravel mix right, not just the middle?
     
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