Beekissed

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The chickens really worked up one of the winter pens these past few days....looks completely different in there. I can pick up handfuls of that DL and put it right up to my face and not smell anything but a dirt smell....and those sheep have been in there since November. It's all fine and fluffy in that area now.

I can't WAIT to spread all this DL into raised beds, out on pasture bare spots, flower beds and such. Once I get that whole winter pen cleaned out and dismantled, I'll throw a little clover seed in there to mix with whatever seed was already in that hay and let it all grow back to grass. Should be a nice stand of grass in that area.
 

YourRabbitGirl

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....anyone doing it?

Now, by deep litter I'm referring to a composting type of litter, not merely deep bedding that gets cleaned out in the spring and piled up to compost. I know a lot of folks use deep bedding in the barns for wintering livestock and that's not exactly what I'm wanting to do. That's a pain to clean out and try to keep dry...I have no desire to work that hard.

I've been using a composting deep litter in my coops for some many years now with huge success...keeps the coop smelling fresh, no flies, added warmth in the winter months and keeps the coop drier in the rainy and winter months, even though I have established a rain barrel to catch moisture and ADD it to the bedding under the roosts. I don't clean it out every year, though I do remove some of the well composted material in my "sink" or "mass" under the roosts to side dress garden plants. By then it's composted down to a fine powder or fine particles that is lightweight, easily moved and spread...sort of like Salatin's deep manure pack for his cattle, which he works into a fine and composted mass with the use of pigs.

I'd like to try something similar for the sheep to get a jump on the muddy seasons and how that all works in the pens. Each year I collect many, many bags of leaves to use in my coops, so will be utilizing leaves in the sheep pens as well. Right now I'm cleaning out the garden and a lot of the items from that will be placed in both coop and sheep pens. Twigs, bark, pine cones, weeds, vines, corn stalks, shucks, cobs and such will be added as the season goes along.

Since the sheep pens are much larger than my coop, I'll really have to be on top of scrounging enough material to layer in there, as well as adding a good mix of stuff that will create the right air spaces in the mass.
Optimization of farm nutrient balance is important, especially in organic production, but knowledge of plant nutrient content and loss of nitrogen in deep litter manure from sheep is scarce.
 

Kusanar

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I'm going to try this with horses hopefully starting this winter.

I have a big open shed we just built, just need to get fencing done so the horses can get to it. I'm going to try to get a chipdrop delivery and heavily mulch it in with the chips, they will stand under there and poop and pee in the chips as well as trashing some hay into it. I will fork it over a little as needed. The entire place is on a slope so it will be almost impossible to keep water from running into the shed, so I would like to build up the deep litter to the point that they step up onto mostly dry footing when they enter the shed.

No worries about ventilation, it's a polebarn with no walls, just a roof to keep the rain off (they have spent the last few years without even having that so they won't have a problem with the wind as long as they can stay dry when it rains in winter.

Next year I can start cutting random weeds and stuff and adding that into it as well.
 

whinneysfarm

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I am so excited to find this thread, I really want to use a true deep litter system for my goats' next dry lot location but I haven't seen many people doing it. Do any posters here have updates on how your deep litter system is going?

One concern I've had is fencing/siding - as the deep litter piles up, the barn sides and pen fence becomes "shorter". I've been building up the deep litter in my chicken run and I just started hitting my head on the roof because I didn't account enough ceiling height for the floor becoming a foot higher! Besides making the barn/fence taller, I'm wondering if the moisture from the deep litter will rot wood siding or rust out metal fence. I'll be building a new permanent dry lot for my goats, chickens, and future sheep to share and I'm trying to think long-term for a barn/fence setup. I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this!
 

Baymule

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I’ve moved twice, have a cow panel lot with little Quonset huts for shelter. It’s getting cold so I’m throwing hay in the huts for the sheep and dogs. Previously I put down hay and just kept adding to it through the winter. It got cleaned out in the spring. Makes great garden fertilizer.
 

Mini Horses

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That's the key....deep litter MUST be cleared out on occasion and restarted. As @Baymule has said, great for garden! Think a compost pile another has attended for you. 😃 Fertilizer is expensive ... This is a byproduct, already paid for. If you don't garden, spread it on a lawn...sell to a gardener, etc.

I have goats and chickens. Goat pellets can be used right away, like rabbit pellets. Chicken manure can be hot, so composted is safest for plants or it can burn them, 🙂 as you probably know.

Yep, heads can get bumped if we don't do clean out. Its a job!! I'm planning to lightly till in my goat barn, to shovel out and start over!!! Cool enough this time of yr but, too cold this wk. I'm seeing several front end loaders full. Awesome garden 2023! 👍
 

whinneysfarm

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Oh definitely, I look forward to harvesting the wonderful compost under the deep litter! But before it's ready there is still a good amount of litter built up, actively yet slowly breaking down. I'm sure the moist decomposing litter will affect wood/metal fencing over time so I'm thinking maybe lining the bottom of the barn/fence with metal siding would prove to be a good long-term protection option. I don't mind clean out/harvesting compost, but I do mind rebuilding barns and fences!
 

Mini Horses

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Metal will rust, leave sharp edges. Try heavy plastic or rubber type material -- vinyl siding, vinyl flooring on side walls or along those lines? To be honest, an extra layer of wood inside is easier to remove & replace. It will protect the outer & frame. Works here. 😃
 

whinneysfarm

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Those are all great ideas, much better than metal! Even just an extra layer of wood would probably be much more economical... thank you!! I'm really looking forward to trying this out in the future.
 

Baymule

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What about horse stall Matt’s, cut in strips? They are made for poop and pee.
 
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