Chicken Run Deep Litter Method
Do you want an easier way to help keep clean chicken runs? Add carbon.
Clean. That really is a relative word. My runs are rarely ever “clean”, but adding carbon to the chicken runs helps neutralize the negative affects of the chicken and duck manure.
This is commonly called the Deep Litter Method for managing chicken manure.
Add Carbon For Chicken Playtime
When I add carbon to the chicken runs the chickens go nuts! They love some fresh bedding to kick around. This promotes healthy chicken activity. They truly are happier when they get to scratch.
Add Carbon For Chicken Feed
In time you will notice a lot of worms and other great critters attracted to the rich environment that the carbon and chicken manure nitrogen makes. The chickens attract the worms and insects, the chickens eat the worms, they manure and scratch in the carbon bedding thus attracting more worms. It’s a beautiful cycle
Add Carbon For Future Compost
Nothing beats the carbon and manure that gets scratched over and over by a chicken for compost. It really is gold. Sometimes this can be taken from the chicken run to the garden depending how long it got worked over in the run. Often I will take it to a pile and process it for a few weeks in a hot compost pile before putting it on the garden, just in case. Fresh chicken manure will be too high in Nitrogen, or too “hot”, and it will burn plants. The extra step of putting the bedding through a hot pile for a few weeks just makes it extra safe.
Dangers of the Deep Litter Method in Coops
I had to modify this post right away because initially I was saying “add carbon to coops”. What I really meant was “add carbon to chicken runs”. Inside my coops I use sand.
Read this beautifully written article by The Chicken Chick about using the deep litter method in the coops. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/10/the-deep-litter-method-of-waste.html
What kind of carbon do you add to the Chicken Runs?
I pretty much use whatever I have on hand. In the Fall the leaves are fantastic! However they break down quickly so you will have to add more soon. Wood mulch is very good and will easily last three or four months. If you have access to hay or straw that works fine too (in the run, not the coop floor where it might not be ventilated enough). The hay is nice because there are lots of seeds in it that the chickens like to eat.
The playhouse that is featured in the following video can be seen here : Playhouse Blog Post (pdf download available there)