Drstratton - My Backyard Journey Journal

drstratton

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I do DL, but have a lot of ventilation, so haven’t had any problems. My sister has waay more chickens than I do and she just uses pine shavings and spot cleans once a day year-round. Keeps it dry, smelling just fine, and no problem with buildup.
Thank you! I know that I will probably keep what I'm using until the fall, unless I have issues with it. My husband has been planning to switch over to leaves in the fall, can't pass up free bedding! Hopefully with the ventilation we are adding we won't have any issues either!
 

drstratton

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Oops, I just read your post again. It seems you want to keep the Chantecler’s to breed for a meat chicken! Duh.... I’ll shut up now and go sit in my corner.....
I was just getting ready to clarify that, in your defense, I really didn't word it very well...you can come out of the corner...😂
 

drstratton

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I'll post you a video that should tell what materials I use. Please ignore my horrible video skills and weird voice...I've never gotten used to hearing myself on video and it horrifies me.

I use different materials as they come to hand...any vines or stalks I clean out of the garden get placed in there. These create air spaces to help composting later on when the DL gets deeper. Twigs, bark, small amounts of woody plant materials, leaves(the bulk of my materials are leaves but have found if you don't break those up with larger particles/materials that they will just mat down and mold in place...not a bad thing, but they are also not composting much), any kitchen scraps, garden scraps, flower or shrubbery trimmings, lawn debris, etc.

It also helps if you have plenty of moisture in the mass...this speeds composting...but this also means you need plenty of passive air flow~fresh air in at the bottom, humidity out at the top. Can't have too much ventilation, I've found...the more the better, especially in the winter time.

In the video you'll see some pine shavings in the litter...these were from where I brooded some chicks in the coop and then they all got mixed in. Since then I no longer buy shavings but just use the coop's existing litter for the chicks. They get exposed to the flock's germs that way~in the absence of a broody mama to give them that exposure~and I don't have to buy shavings...haven't bought any for years now. I also don't brood chicks any longer, but give them to a broody hen to do it for me. This vid was shot in January, I do believe, but can't really remember...it may mention it.

Thank you so much! I will watch this with my husband tonight!
 

drstratton

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I'll post you a video that should tell what materials I use. Please ignore my horrible video skills and weird voice...I've never gotten used to hearing myself on video and it horrifies me.

I use different materials as they come to hand...any vines or stalks I clean out of the garden get placed in there. These create air spaces to help composting later on when the DL gets deeper. Twigs, bark, small amounts of woody plant materials, leaves(the bulk of my materials are leaves but have found if you don't break those up with larger particles/materials that they will just mat down and mold in place...not a bad thing, but they are also not composting much), any kitchen scraps, garden scraps, flower or shrubbery trimmings, lawn debris, etc.

It also helps if you have plenty of moisture in the mass...this speeds composting...but this also means you need plenty of passive air flow~fresh air in at the bottom, humidity out at the top. Can't have too much ventilation, I've found...the more the better, especially in the winter time.

In the video you'll see some pine shavings in the litter...these were from where I brooded some chicks in the coop and then they all got mixed in. Since then I no longer buy shavings but just use the coop's existing litter for the chicks. They get exposed to the flock's germs that way~in the absence of a broody mama to give them that exposure~and I don't have to buy shavings...haven't bought any for years now. I also don't brood chicks any longer, but give them to a broody hen to do it for me. This vid was shot in January, I do believe, but can't really remember...it may mention it.

Just watched this! I think you have a lovely voice...not horrible at all! :love

One thing I'm not sure about is the fact that our coop is not on the ground...it sits up off of the ground on a stem wall, it has a wooden floor that we have covered with teflon sheets. So we will not have the advantage of having worms come up into it to help make it decompose! That being said, we are working on improving the airflow and we will also be using leaves and many of the other materials that you have pointed out! Thank you so much for the great information! :)
 

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Just watched this! I think you have a lovely voice...not horrible at all! :love

One thing I'm not sure about is the fact that our coop is not on the ground...it sits up off of the ground on a stem wall, it has a wooden floor that we have covered with teflon sheets. So we will not have the advantage of having worms come up into it to help make it decompose! That being said, we are working on improving the airflow and we will also be using leaves and many of the other materials that you have pointed out! Thank you so much for the great information! :)
Here's something that may help.....lace your DL with some rich composted soil. Not the dead stuff they sell in bags, but something from your own land/garden. Leaf mulch from the surrounding woods is easily had and has a rich culture of fungi, bacteria and bug life already in it. It won't do much in your pine shavings, but if you mix in your leaves and start putting green matter in there as often as you can, it will give them something to feed on right away. Grass clippings are fine if you put them under the top layer of bedding so the bugs can work on them undisturbed.

Now, other folks tell you to have the chickens work up that DL all the time and that's okay sometimes, but I've found, especially in a dryer coop or climate, that capping the nightly deposits each morning with a flip of dry material from elsewhere in the coop can help the whole thing decompose better. Letting that moisture out all the time with the constant scratching of chickens makes things much slower. I let the chickens scratch all over the rest of the coop, but I don't encourage much scratching under the roosts...I like to control when that gets aerated, if possible. Of course, I free range, so my chickens rarely spend much time in the coop except in the winter, so it's easier for me.

I build the mass under the roosts nice and deep to discourage the bottom layers being disturbed, laying small branches in there occasionally...this discourages too much movement of the mass as well. Unlike other folks, I actively place moisture in that mass....I have a trash can collecting water on the back of my coop and piping it directly into the mass under the roosts now(didn't back when I did that vid). In the winter months, I toss water in there from rinsing out the waterer and disposing of soiled water. I cover it with dry material as soon as I do that.

It all sounds like a lot of work but it only takes mere seconds to flip the dry matter onto the wet each morning or every other morning as I go to feed. All of this insures that the chickens have a warm convection of air flowing past them, up and out the top vents in the winter months. I often have a 10* temp difference at the roost level than outside temps. I've put a meat thermometer into the mass in cold weather and got 98* temp readings.

A soil floor is best but if you build it, they will come.
 

CntryBoy777

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We had a plywood floor in the coop and put some pieces of mobile home skirting under the roosts and we scattered spent hay around on the rest of the floor and on the skirting pcs....the poop adheres to the hay and all is easily swept from the plywood....the skirting pcs was easily removed and dumped on the compost pile....took less than 5mins to clean it up and freshen the whole area....no damp, wet ammonia ever and hay composts much better than shavings....would clean it every other week with 12 chickens..... :)
 

drstratton

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Here's something that may help.....lace your DL with some rich composted soil. Not the dead stuff they sell in bags, but something from your own land/garden. Leaf mulch from the surrounding woods is easily had and has a rich culture of fungi, bacteria and bug life already in it. It won't do much in your pine shavings, but if you mix in your leaves and start putting green matter in there as often as you can, it will give them something to feed on right away. Grass clippings are fine if you put them under the top layer of bedding so the bugs can work on them undisturbed.

Now, other folks tell you to have the chickens work up that DL all the time and that's okay sometimes, but I've found, especially in a dryer coop or climate, that capping the nightly deposits each morning with a flip of dry material from elsewhere in the coop can help the whole thing decompose better. Letting that moisture out all the time with the constant scratching of chickens makes things much slower. I let the chickens scratch all over the rest of the coop, but I don't encourage much scratching under the roosts...I like to control when that gets aerated, if possible. Of course, I free range, so my chickens rarely spend much time in the coop except in the winter, so it's easier for me.

I build the mass under the roosts nice and deep to discourage the bottom layers being disturbed, laying small branches in there occasionally...this discourages too much movement of the mass as well. Unlike other folks, I actively place moisture in that mass....I have a trash can collecting water on the back of my coop and piping it directly into the mass under the roosts now(didn't back when I did that vid). In the winter months, I toss water in there from rinsing out the waterer and disposing of soiled water. I cover it with dry material as soon as I do that.

It all sounds like a lot of work but it only takes mere seconds to flip the dry matter onto the wet each morning or every other morning as I go to feed. All of this insures that the chickens have a warm convection of air flowing past them, up and out the top vents in the winter months. I often have a 10* temp difference at the roost level than outside temps. I've put a meat thermometer into the mass in cold weather and got 98* temp readings.

A soil floor is best but if you build it, they will come.
I'm going to print all of the information you've shared & give it to my husband to read...this will mostly be his department, he likes what I've shared with him so far!
My chickens will also be free range, but in a controlled area to keep them safe from packing dogs. We are still working on their new pen. Hopefully we will seed it with grass this weekend & my husband still needs to build the gate & move the automatic door he built so that it goes directly into the new free range pen. It's 110'x48' and should be a nice area for them!
 

drstratton

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We had a plywood floor in the coop and put some pieces of mobile home skirting under the roosts and we scattered spent hay around on the rest of the floor and on the skirting pcs....the poop adheres to the hay and all is easily swept from the plywood....the skirting pcs was easily removed and dumped on the compost pile....took less than 5mins to clean it up and freshen the whole area....no damp, wet ammonia ever and hay composts much better than shavings....would clean it every other week with 12 chickens..... :)
Sounds like that worked really well. The teflon sheets that we placed in ours is super slick & everything slides right out when I sweep it! 😊
 
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