Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Deep Litter Bedding or Gathering Leaves for Chickens


We've kept our own flock of chickens on and off for more than six years.

My best discovery was the deep litter method - rather than shoveling out (or at least attempting, once frozen) their poop, you leave a thick layer of organic matter and keep adding more layers throughout the winter. The girls will naturally scratch and peck and stir things up. The deeper layers will start to compost before you even shovel it all out in the spring. 

Our first coop was portable. During the growing season we moved it all around our property, giving them a new patch to work every few days. If you leave chickens in one spot for too long, the concentration of their poop will essentially make it so that nothing will grow there again.

Over their first winter, we parked the hen house end under our back porch that led to the kitchen. It was lovely to step out the kitchen door and toss any scraps right to the chooks.

For bedding we bought pine shavings. Even though they're not that costly individually, it certainly brings up the cost of keeping the girls

Driving by people's bags of leaves on the sidewalk has always made me cringe - I understand, not everyone has space to compost. However, it always seemed similar to throwing away food - such a waste.

The following fall, I got the big leaf bags and filled them up. As the weeks of winter went on, we slowly dumped them into their pen. 

Here at our new house, instead of getting the big bags, we've been slowly filling up every paper grocery bag from our stash. I aim to have three bags per week for the coldest months.

In the spring we will shovel out their yard and start fresh. We will add the deep litter to our compost heap and in another year, we will add it to our gardens, fertilize our lawn, or feed our plants.

Poop is pretty great, if you compost it right.

Hope you all have a lovely thanksgiving or rest of your week and see you next week!