I have a wood floor so I shovel out my coop completely and scrape off anything stuck to the floor. Composted deep litter should look like the picture. It's a dry, dirt like substance with some pieces of litter throughout. I allow the coop a few hours to air out then add in fresh litter. I also throw a few shovels of the dry dirty litter back in the coop and mix it up to add back some of the microbes and bacteria that help the composting process.
Thankfully it's a pretty easy process. I always do my deep cleaning at the beginning of spring. I wait until we start seeing temps above freezing for a few weeks then get to cleaning. I have 2 main reasons why:
Everything is thawing. The deep litter method keeps poo composting and the smell is minimal. In the winter here a lot of the poop freezes before it can start to compost then it all starts thawing at once and can get pretty stinky. Consider months of frozen droppings thawing all in 1 week. That is just way too much for the deep litter to handle at once and the ammonia smell can start to build up quickly. Plus anything frozen to walls, floors or perches can now be scraped off easily. Of course if you don't live in an area that freezes this wont be an issue for you.
The spring rains are coming. Properly composted deep litter starts to resemble dry dirt. What happens when you add days of rain to dirt? Mud. Now add fresh poo. Yuck! Besides, you want this stuff in your garden so the rain can wash those nutrients into the soil. It's much lighter and easier to shovel up when it's dry then when it's wet, so do it before the rains come!
It shouldn't take very long to clean out the coop and once it's done, you don't have to do it again for another year! I usually only add a regular layer of shavings at this point. Since we get a LOT of rain the first month of spring I often have to shovel soaked shavings from certain coops (the one at the bottom of the yard floods.....what were we thinking?) so I wait till the spring rains are done to start building up the litter again. The coops on flat land though are fine to start building up the litter right away.
As the summer/fall progresses I just add new litter when needed. I've used everything from pine shavings, hay and straw to shredded newspaper and dried fall leaves....all with great results! This method is great as it keeps my cleaning time down to a minimum and produces great compost for the gardens. I really like the deep litter method. Have you tried it?
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