Deep litter for sheep...

Beekissed

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Still building the DL in the sheep pens, with good results. Have lately placed large pieces of bark from our wood splitting for the year, wood fragments, corn stalks/shucks, and leaves in the pens. Put the bark in the higher traffic areas that will be churned to mud by the end of winter...will continue to place larger bits there to prevent that.

It's starting to get that springy mass feeling to it, with dryer stuff on top, wet stuff at the bottom. The chickens help with distributing things more evenly, as do the ducks. I also take the pitchfork in there on sunny days and take wet stuff and spread it in the thin areas so it can dry and dry stuff tossed onto the wet stuff.

It's starting to look, feel and act GOOD. Will continue to add leaves and woody debris, and redistribute the hay so as to create a thick, even sponge of composting materials.

Far better than a mud slick mess with poop everywhere or a sodden mess of hay that stinks of urine. No smells thus far in this DL.
 

mystang89

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Glad to hear you're not having the smell. It's been over 6 months since I put mulch down and I'm just now starting to smell anything but it still "looks" dry and clean. By spring I'll have to get in there and clean it. We'll see how bad that is.
Hope yours lasts just as long.
 

Beekissed

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Glad to hear you're not having the smell. It's been over 6 months since I put mulch down and I'm just now starting to smell anything but it still "looks" dry and clean. By spring I'll have to get in there and clean it. We'll see how bad that is.
Hope yours lasts just as long.
I don't have as many sheep as most and they aren't in the sheep pens very often, so it's likely I haven't had the full effect of manure/urine that most have. Time will tell.
 

Baymule

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Mine love their barn so much that when it is hot and they are in a pasture not connected to the barn, they go to the gate and yell at me to go back home. They want to ruminate in their barn! It's not really a barn, it's open on 3 sides, but they love it. I put radiant heat barrier under the metal roof, it cuts the heat by 10 to 15 degrees.

So I get a lot of poop in the barn! I scatter the hay they don't eat in the barn. Chickens scratch and turn it, it stays dry on top and it doesn't smell. I am tossing the hay stemmy parts they don't eat, daily on the floor.
 

Coolbreeze89

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I have a 10x20 shelter for my 7 doelings that I am trying to work out a bedding plan for, so I love this thread! They have access to their shelter and a large corral area at night, and they range on 3-4acres during the day. I have sandy ground that seems to hold the pee (and the girls insist on peeing right in front of the hay rack, so it really builds up). Even with 3x a week cleaning and PDZ, it always smelled like urine (when mostly closed up - always some airflow). Based on this thread, I’ll try just leaving the soiled hay, and I’ve already started adding pine shavings to try to help with the urine. Has anyone used the compressed pellets to better absorb the urine? They should compost down easier than the shavings, I’d think. I don’t have a ton of tree leaves to add to the mix, but I’ll put in what I can. Just to be clear: I SHOULDN’T thoroughly mix the layers (once bulit up), but more just “surface mixing”? I can let my chickens/pigs in to root around, too (I like the idea of spreading some corn to “target” their work. I already do this in the chicken run to get them to turn the areas that aren’t breaking down as fast).
 

Baymule

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You are in central Texas, the climate is the same as mine. Can you take down part of the wall and replace with wire? The wire would still close them up and keep them safe and it would allow air flow to carry the ammonia fumes away. No, don't stir it up. If there is still a urine smell, sprinkle garden lime over it. Garden lime can be found in the garden department at Lowes or feed stores. I buy the dolomite lime and offer it to my sheep also. They need it when pregnant and lactating. You can put other lime on the urine places, but I only offer the dolomite lime to my sheep.

If you let pigs in there for a day, they will root it up and turn it for you. If you are wanting to clean the shelter, it is a good way to loosen everything up, making it easier to shovel. Chickens will keep the top layer turned and dry.

If you are going to use it on the garden, I wouldn't use the pellet stuff in the barn. I guess it would be ok, but I try to be as organic as I can. My thought is, whats in the pellets and do I want it to wind up in my vegetables.

People are raking their leaves now, drive through town and ask if you can have the bags of leaves. People will think you are nuts, but will gladly let you have them.
 

farmerjan

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One thing that you might want to consider, is to make the shelter on some sort of "runners" so it can be moved around the lot/field that you have them in. It will not accomplish the deep litter that is being discussed here, but like a chicken tractor, it will spread out the manure and such more evenly across an area. Several farmers have shade cloths in the pastures for their cows. They can be moved so that the cows are not constantly doing their manure and peeing in the same spot all the time to make a muddy and smelly mess. It can still be pretty much animal proof but something that you can pull with a garden tractor, or small all purpose tractor, or your pickup.... You would pull it from the "solid side" so the manure, bedding etc., would just be "left behind"; and you could make the doors on that "open side" with fairly heavy bottom boards so they would withstand a predator.

One thing I have found with the "chicken tractors" is the varmints don't bother them as much if I move them frequently than they do when they stay in one place for awhile. Especially foxes, coyotes, even coons. I think that the change of places makes them feel less familiar. Possums are another story, they will do anything because their brain is not smart enough to equate with a different spot as a possible "trap" for them. I would think that the Moveable sheep shelter would be the same principle. Sure would save on the shoveling and pitchforking.....
 

Beekissed

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I have a 10x20 shelter for my 7 doelings that I am trying to work out a bedding plan for, so I love this thread! They have access to their shelter and a large corral area at night, and they range on 3-4acres during the day. I have sandy ground that seems to hold the pee (and the girls insist on peeing right in front of the hay rack, so it really builds up). Even with 3x a week cleaning and PDZ, it always smelled like urine (when mostly closed up - always some airflow). Based on this thread, I’ll try just leaving the soiled hay, and I’ve already started adding pine shavings to try to help with the urine. Has anyone used the compressed pellets to better absorb the urine? They should compost down easier than the shavings, I’d think. I don’t have a ton of tree leaves to add to the mix, but I’ll put in what I can. Just to be clear: I SHOULDN’T thoroughly mix the layers (once bulit up), but more just “surface mixing”? I can let my chickens/pigs in to root around, too (I like the idea of spreading some corn to “target” their work. I already do this in the chicken run to get them to turn the areas that aren’t breaking down as fast).
You are right...just surface mixing....you'll want to trap the moisture of the manure and urine under a top layer....sometimes that means taking a fork and lightly flipping dryer bedding on top of the areas where they like to poop or moving the top layers of that into dryer areas and capping both the moved moist and the moist left behind with a dry layer.

Only takes a few moments if your bedding is deep enough and has different particle sizes so that it's easy to move, toss, layer.

Anything you can use to create air spaces and break up heavy matting like one would get with just straw or hay bedding will help you be able to move it for these distributions of moisture. Wood chip, woody stems or stalks, leaves, straw, hay, etc. I've found the more varied the mix, the more successful DL is.

You can turn the pigs in there in the spring when the goats are out on pasture more and let them toss it until all layers or more dry and easy to move...or to just compost more in place. I usually take out some in the spring and apply it directly onto the garden if it's composted enough....you'll know if it is, as it will have no smell but the smell of soil/mulch/dirt. That gives me more room to build it deeper.
 

Coolbreeze89

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You are in central Texas, the climate is the same as mine. Can you take down part of the wall and replace with wire? The wire would still close them up and keep them safe and it would allow air flow to carry the ammonia fumes away. No, don't stir it up. If there is still a urine smell, sprinkle garden lime over it. Garden lime can be found in the garden department at Lowes or feed stores. I buy the dolomite lime and offer it to my sheep also. They need it when pregnant and lactating. You can put other lime on the urine places, but I only offer the dolomite lime to my sheep.

If you let pigs in there for a day, they will root it up and turn it for you. If you are wanting to clean the shelter, it is a good way to loosen everything up, making it easier to shovel. Chickens will keep the top layer turned and dry.

If you are going to use it on the garden, I wouldn't use the pellet stuff in the barn. I guess it would be ok, but I try to be as organic as I can. My thought is, whats in the pellets and do I want it to wind up in my vegetables.

People are raking their leaves now, drive through town and ask if you can have the bags of leaves. People will think you are nuts, but will gladly let you have them.
Hubby and I keep going back and forth on our best plan for long-term animal housing, so for now they have a vinyl fabric “carport” that is located within their corral space (surrounded by 6ft high panels). They can come and go from their shelter into their area, as it is never sealed up completely. Every time I read about you and other experienced people’s animals happy with a minimal shelter, I chuckle at my over-protection! Days like today (81 and sunny), every side is opened up. Heavy rain days or days below 40, I keep the sides down. Even when all sides are down, there is still airflow, I just notice the smell more. The last few days, since finding this thread, I’ve spread out the wet bedding a bit, then added more spent hay or pine shavings, and it is smelling better! I’ve got a ways to go before I’d call the litter “deep”, though. With this wind today, I’m finally getting some leaves off my post oak trees, so I’ll add those in, too.

Thanks everyone!
 

Baymule

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@Coolbreeze89 this thread has pictures of the first pitiful little shelter I built, it still stands, they love to lay inside it, cold or hot weather. It has pictures of the "roof" that has one solid side. We rolled out radiant heat barrier over the tar paper, under the metal. It keeps the barn cooler by 10 to 20 degrees.

https://www.backyardherds.com/threads/sheep-barn.37581/



Later, I built a small night pen that has a share of the "barn" for shelter. It currently houses our new puppy at night. He is 6 months old, he is "with" the sheep at night, but not able to chew on or chase the lambs.

The bag of animal crackers was in preparation for the arrival of Ringo, our ram.

D5E80A62-BACB-42F4-9EDE-BDBE1DE32922.jpeg


I put the round bale under the barn with a cow panel square around it. One side is the night pen pictured above, I have two half panels on the inside of the barn and a cow panel that forms part of the barn fence is the other side. So the hay bale is accessible from the barn, the small night pen and the front pasture. You can see part of it in the background of this picture.


A3DD430F-927F-420F-93C5-362B09848494.jpeg
 
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