Monday, February 11, 2013

Deep Litter Heats Up!

Featured Chicken Enthusiast:  Roberta, Long Beach

Ok, deep litter for the coop is not supposed to be compost but somehow I crossed that line of perfection.  Probably because I've been giving the girls LOTS of weeds from a neighbors yar.  I was in the coop today and looking at the the serious lack of identifiable litter.

Litter after a 3-4 months of being scratched around and almost like dirt.

There was also a hint of chicken poop ordor which i usually can't smell when mixed with the fresh pine shavings.  Plus the litter was spilling into the nest box so it was time to remove some to the compost pile.  As I pulled out the litter, I could see some crab grass stems and the oat hulls and just a hint of the pine shavings that I add for litter.    Most of the shavings had decomposed into a fine dust.  Definitely no poop in site because the poop had been scratched into the litter.

Up close look at the litter.

The litter is usually a little warm but as I shoveled the litter out I could see and feel the steam of heat rising up for the coop floor.  I pulled out the compost thermometer and I stuck it into the floor and I was amazed as the little needle rose quickly and slowed down all the way to 130 degrees!   And at the time the air temperature was 60 degrees.  So the ground in the coop was 70! degrees warmer.

Boy that's pretty hot.  Good thing, it's not summer!

Whoa, it's really hot composting.  Not sure if it's a good thing or not but I like that the poop is disappearing without any effort.  I found a few eggs that had been pushed out of the nest box and one was almost hot to the touch.  I wasn't sure if they could have started to develop since they are fertilized so I cracked one open and I was shocked to find that the darn egg had been hard-cooked!  I removed about 5 or 6 5 gallon batches into the composter.  This is the first time I've removed the litter after a year.  Usually I just add more on top but it's just a little too deep now.  Each time I left the girls would run into the spot that opened up and they put their little feet into the warm spots.  After bringing down the level about 6 inches I added the fresh pine shavings.

A surprising amount of shavings hide in this package. 

Dump the shavings onto the floor

Mmmm, I love the smell of fresh pine shavings and it looks just like it has snowed in the coop.  I add some grains and weeds so that they get into the new shavings to spread it out.  Watch them eating the nut grass.  In no time they were rolling around in the shavings and the coop smelled sweet.

I don't worry about spreading it out as the chickens have all day to do that for me. 

Peanut is always the first to jump into new things.

Adding a few things to get the litter party started.

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