Deep litter for sheep...

Sheepshape

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Deep litter with infrequent changes sounds great, but I think it would depend on the number of sheep to be housed being relatively small. Though I lamb outside as much as possible, ewes expecting multiples come in overnight and I may have up to 60 in the shed in lambing time. Ewes who are have had more than one lamb stay in the shed for about 48 hours.
The shed floor is mainly compacted earth over which I lay bedding straw and change daily (traditional, a lot of work, but keeps them disease-free in a 'tight' environment).

sheep in shed.jpg
sheep in shed (1).jpg
 

Baymule

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We all use what works best for us. Most of my ewes lamb outside. I give them the choice by opening the gate to a side pasture. There are a few that choose the barn, then I clean up the birthing fluids and afterbirth. Deep litter works for me, I have 10 ewes. I would love to have 60, but I don't have the room for that many.
 

The Old Ram-Australia

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G'day,my understanding of D L is its the depth of the litter that effects the outcome and i suspect that you would need some sort of a "starter" to get things going.As i understand it in the "old days"the litter was just "topped up" for the whole of winter and cleaned out in the Spring to be spread onto the pastures....Unfortunately straw bedding is expensive,but i recall years ago a Goat dairy who used it as the goats were held overnight for the mornings milk and were on pasture during daylight hours,the barn was open on one side for ventilation and the bedding was the height of a small square bale which were tightly packed on the floor area before the strings were cut.It appears that once decomposition started the heat generated kept the smell down and killed all of the "bad bugs".anyway it seemed to work for them.In another goat dairy the whole barn floor was elevated steel mesh and a person could work underneath it to top up and keep air-rated and topped up...T.O.R.
 

Beekissed

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my understanding of D L is its the depth of the litter that effects the outcome
Definitely. I've also found that it's not only depth, but particle size and density, as well as air spaces in the pack that determine if it composts well in place. I think the reason so many people have poor results from DL with livestock of all kinds is due to using the same type of litter throughout the building of the manure pack. This creates an anaerobic litter pack that not only smells but isn't healthy nor composting.

Using a variety of carbonaceous materials will help create natural air spaces and different rates of binding with manure and urine, thus increasing the chances of composting and the heat that results from it. Good ventilation at all levels is key for letting the humidity that arises from the pack to be wafted up and out the top of the structure so it doesn't settle on the animals and create a chill that wouldn't otherwise be there.

In the coop, when the DL is working properly, I can read temps of 10* warmer at roost height than ambient temps, with heat up to 98* inside the litter pack itself on days in the single digits and teens outside. And I have a VERY open air coop, so I'm not trapping any of that warmth, but rather letting passive fresh air in at the bottom to send the warm air from the pack upward and out the top of the coop....with the chickens benefiting from that warm air flow.
 

Coolbreeze89

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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
We go through quite a few animal crackers here, too. My pigs (and dogs) love “pig newton’s” as well! (I get the HEB branded fig newtons. Cheap treat that’s good for motivating them to go where they don’t wanna go!).
 

Beekissed

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The sheep were penned up for 5 days and you can barely tell they were there....the addition of the leaves to the DL allows the sheep pellets to fall into the litter pack and even though we had rain during that time, the surface is light, fluffy and dry looking.

Will continue to add leaves, bark and twigs to the pack there, as it's looking GREAT and I see no runoff from the rains moving any of the litter at all...tells me it's absorbing into the pack but not saturating it enough to wash it away.
 

Beekissed

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We've had some hard rains followed by some light ones, but the DL is holding up thus far. It's light and spongy to walk upon, no areas of too much mud except in front of one pen....I'll fill in there with some bark to hold the soil and top it with some leaves. Even there it's not real muddy....just a little.

No smells, though the sheep have been penned in for several days now, the poop and urine seems to be working its way down into the DL rather than lying on top or saturating it to the surface. That's what I wanted to see...the air spaces created by woody items at the bottom should allow for good drainage there, while the hay and leaves should help keep the top dryer and fluffier.

The next windy day we get I'll go up there and toss a little of the wetter litter material into thin, dry areas and dry stuff onto wetter areas so that the DL gets a chance to be evenly moist in all areas. Usually just takes a minute to do that and regular maintenance of the DL in that manner makes for an even, thick, spongy layer that is moist on bottom but able to dry out and stay dryer on top.

So far I'm pleased with how it's working.
 
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