Chickens Love Piles 

aka How I Learned to Make Deep Litter Work for Me.

Last summer, I made the discovery of a chicken keeping practice known as Deep Litter.  The idea is to keep about 3-5 inches of your preferred bedding on the floor of your coop, cleaning it out every so many months, as opposed to every day.

The chickens are supposed to help, by scratching and pawing in the bedding, turning it with their feet in search of bugs, food, etc, and causing the bedding to aerate.

The bedding, in turn, slowly decomposes and  breaks down over time, and by the time you give it a good deep cleaning and fresh litter, the old has become the right consistency for garden compost.

Or so all the websites I researched told me.

Sadly, all last winter and summer, I failed to see evidence that my chickens were doing any of this turning and scratching.  If anything, they walked on it and compacted it, leaving me to do all the hard work myself.

That is… until last week when I got tired of turning the bedding with my trusty bedding fork and decided to – gasp – leave the bedding I had just turned in two big piles in the middle of the coop.

I came back later that night and  the piles were gone.

Why?  Because as any chicken person can tell you – chickens LOVE piles.  Dirt, leaves, grass, compost…. whatever kind of pile you have, your chickens will find them and play in them.

This morning’s bedding piles.
Pip and some of the girls checking things out.

By the time I came back to do my last egg-check and lock up for the night, they had it all spread back into place.   I’ll leave them more piles in a couple of days, and they’ll have something to keep them busy for a little while.

Overall, it makes for a good winter boredom-buster, too, if you think about it!

The Chicken Chick has an awesome Deep Litter post, here, that explains more about the Do’s and Don’ts than I ever could.  

I’m still learning, but I like it.  It’s less work for me. When I first started, I was cleaning the coop every day, sometimes for more than 2 hours at a time, and it was tedious.  Deep litter put a stop to that. Now, I just clean off the roosts and the droppings board, and the occasional poop in the laying beds.   Max time – IF I don’t stop and play with the chickens – half hour to do everything.   That’s quite a jump from 1-2 hours.   Although, let’s face it.  I do play with the chickens while I work.  It’s how I roll.


5 thoughts on “Chickens Love Piles 

  1. I wish my chickens would do this. I left the pile beneath the roost for six weeks and it just kept getting taller and taller. The chickens just hopped down off the roost avoiding the pile. Finally I couldn’t bear the odor any longer and I scooped it out. Am I doing something wrong?

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  2. Yay for making the chickens help you spread the litter around! My chickens still haven’t figured out how to roost and they will be a year old at the end of March. They just pile like puppies into a corner of the coop. I have to clean the corner twice a week but since there are only four chickens it never takes long. I just wish I didn’t have to go through so much bedding!

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    1. The Dashwoods must feel safer in their puppy pile. Or is that a chickie pile? LOL. Mine learned to roost high pretty quickly. Most of them line up on our highest roost bar, but we have a couple to go to the rafters, right up at ceiling level. I always worry about them getting down because it’s so high, but so far, it hasn’t been a problem.

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  3. We’ve been giving deep litter a try and it’s helped reduce having to clean the whole coop out. Ours are stuck in at the moment (due to avian flu outbreak in the UK) and instead of scratting through the litter spend most of their day peering out waiting for us to appear to beg for treats, so the litter has become more compacted. I’m going to give piling it up a go and see if that gets them scratting more again.

    Liked by 1 person

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