No More Stinky Chicken Coops! Use the DEEP LITTER METHOD instead!

Hey you guys this is Josh with Homestaying family and welcome to this Week's episode of The Pantry chat food For thought and as you can see today Carolyn is not here but I have a really Really exciting guest my friend Harvey Ussery and Um many of you may know of him from his Book it's pretty much the Bible on Rearing backyard and Homestead chickens It's called the small scale poultry Flock and Um it's also just you just had a revised Edition come out right Harvey this fall Here yes so one on sale the first of This month all right so we'll talk about That more in a minute but we're going to Be talking about deep betting for Backyard chickens that may be a New Concept to some of you but it is a great Way to Um create a clean Coop very healthy Clean Coop a great way to produce your Own compost And probably a lot of other features That that Harvey's going to get into Here and it's it's really see I know to Harvey and to myself as well and to many Of us on this homesteading journey Keeping chickens it's an essential System to keeping you know healthy Robust chickens and integrating into Kind of a uh multi-functional Homestead But before we get to that I want to tell

You a little bit about Harvey and and Just catch up and see what's going on so Harvey and his wife Ellen produce much Of their own food on our three acre Homestead in Northern Virginia during Their first year they planted a large Garden and a small Orchard and started a Flock of chickens now over the years They've added and sometimes subtracted Guineas Ducks geese Um yanked out the problematic peaches And plums and planted Hazels and nut Trees experiment with new crops and new Strategies for naturally feeding of Their flocks now Harvey and his wife Strive for a homestead that supports a Healthy diverse and sustainable ecology And as we mentioned he's the author of The small scale poultry flock and we've Just got a brand new revised Edition That's out we'll talk about that a Little bit today and let you guys know How you can get a hold of that but Harvey how you doing how's Ellen and how Is everything there in Virginia Uh we're doing very well everything's Going well here and uh you'll be happy To know that uh those uh those tiny Chicks in a brooder that you saw and uh Got some video footage of when you were Here in August uh they're they're doing Terrifically uh I've shared some of them With close neighbors and uh they're They're getting close to full size and

Uh maybe in another couple of months They will start laying eggs for me and Uh it was it was fun and uh a good Addition to my flock to get some some New uh new birds out there so for many Of you that may not know I spent some Time with Harvey out there on his Homestead in August and we filmed a Class for you on backyard Homestead Chickens everything you need to know This is a great extensive class it's Going to be coming out on the school of Traditional skills in December and Actually Harvey's going to be joining me There for some live training as well and So I got to spend a week with Harvey and Ellen and that was just such a a Wonderful time Um just just I learned so much from you Being there and and just diving in and Hanging out and Harvey started chicks he Ordered chicks and started them from Scratch for us for this class so that's Those that's those chickens that he's Talking about that are never now Maturing up and getting ready to to lay Um but man that was a Hot August maybe That was a normal August for you I don't Know You've been fantastic we were out by a Plumbing in some really hot humid Weather Um I grew up Josh and uh Parts of North Carolina where we had hot

Humid Summers and I think it doesn't uh I think it doesn't bother me that Weather doesn't bother me as as much as It does more Northerly friends Yeah I'm definitely uh an uh Northern Drier climate uh kind of guy the way I Was raised so that that humidity gets to You but um but it was a it was just a Really really fun time and Um Let's see here uh let's talk about your Book for a minute before we get into the Deep bedding and um you guys I'll hold It up here and we will get you some Links where you can get this but but Tell us a little bit about and well when The first edition came out and and kind Of what what drove you to write this Book The first edition came out in uh the in The fall of 2011. And um I my impression was it was very Well received Um but then you know after it had been Uh I guess about 11 years My publisher Chelsea Green Uh just got in touch with me and said Hey it's been a decade since the book Came out do you think Um that you you would be able to uh that You would have enough to offer to Justify uh A revision And I gave it some thought and concluded

That the additional experimented Experimenting I had done in those Intervening 10 years uh particularly Doing a lot more uh rigorously uh Focused breeding of my own stock here Uh that and a good deal of other things Including uh Giving the new additions a somewhat Different basic perspective an attempt To fit the homestead flock into the Wider ecological picture For all those reasons I thought we had Enough new and interesting and useful New material to justify a revision and Now that the book is out I well I think I think that was a good conclusion and I Think my editor and I uh I had a really Good editor and Chelsea Green as a Publishing House they're really terrific Uh outfit and they publish really good Stuff and and I I think we've produced a Book that is uh is going to have uh more On offer for people who are read the First edition and for those who are Coming new to it I hope uh I hope They'll find it uh a a good guide to a More natural Um approach to keeping the homestead Plot I I'm confident they will and I Think that's something that many folks Are waking up to and is so so important That you know we're here not just trying To provide food but we also need to be Good stewards of the land as we're doing

That and you you incorporate that uh Into you know into your book and into The philosophy of of rearing and raising Chickens and um but being both a good Steward of them as well and your care For them but uh also of the land and the Integration and into systems and that's That's one of the things that I really Love about the way you approach things Is is how integrated everything is and And I know you're a little bit familiar With permaculture and that's kind of my You know pace of reference where we can Really tie in different concepts and you Get the chickens working in the garden And the garden providing the chicken's Food and you're creating compost with This deep bedding while creating a nice Sanitary environment for the chickens And it's just a wonderful approach and So if you guys don't have this book on Your shelf you need to have it and Um you know there's lots of it's great To be doing the video it's great to be Doing classes like we're doing school Traditional skills but nothing replaces Just a good good solid book like this I'm trying to get this in the frame There you go Um we want to have those on the shelf And and this is really the one for Chicken in my opinion Um with that let's let's Dive Right In Here and of course Harvey you and I are

Throwing around this deep bedding method And there are a lot of people here that May not know what that means so would You explain to us what you mean by Deep Bed method or deep litter method when it Comes to chickens and chicken coops Um in deep litter or deep bedding uh is A way uh to My Mind by far the best way Uh to manage the manure Uh of your chickens or other livestock Um so that Um there is less labor involved Uh the uh the environment for the Chickens is more sanitary Uh it's the hen house is more pleasant Uh it in other words it doesn't stink in There Um and that Amazingly enough the um the deep litter As it becomes more bioactive with these Trillions of decompositional organisms Uh actually produce metabolites like Vitamin B12 and vitamin K and other Immune enhancing uh compounds that the Chickens actually uh Ingest as they're finding Little Critters to eat in the litter uh and That actually uh becomes a support for Their health So it's just uh they Really the heart of the system let's put It this way out in nature when the Chickens uh poop what happens to that Poop well immediately these natural

Organisms jump right on uh that manure And uh and uh feed on it use the energy In it as they break it down for the Great return to Earth So Um our chickens are not not outside all The time so deep litter is a way Of finding a way To inside the coop Allow the manure to enter the same Decompositional process that it would Outside driven by trillions of microbes And um and yes uh uh allow for that Breakdown in a way that is not a threat To health And uh is certainly far more pleasant And produces this wonderful byproduct of Compost that we can use uh in the garden And the landscape All right so unlike out in nature though We've got often a lot of chickens in a Confined space right hopefully enough Space for them not too confined but Nonetheless they're in a confined space So that that litter that manure that Manure is not getting spread out and we Get into the stink right if we're not Managing things well and Joel salatin Who's uh who's I think immense Definitely mentor to me and I think to You as well Harvey talks about that if You come in to a chicken coop or a barn And you and it smells bad you have a Management problem right there's there's

Something wrong there if it smells I Don't mean it smells like a farm there Can be a clean good smell to a farm you Know where you know animals are there And you recognize that you can smell Them but if there's this ammonia or Sulfur or the steak it's not good and You naturally get that and a lot of People raising chickens over the years In a chicken coop it's just kind of Accepted that you have this either hard Pan of chicken poop that develops in the Yard or you have this slippery stinky Mess that you can't walk on you can't Put a shovel through and that's kind of Just been accepted as kind of normal for Raising chickens and and what we're Talking about here is something entirely Different that uh is Um a very healthy way to manage that Manure I think not nonetheless also to To create you know some other byproducts Right Um you know you you mentioned Joel and I Love uh his quote I've heard it many Times Uh that illustrates exactly the point You've just made uh Joel says if you are Around any livestock operation Regardless of species And you smell manure You are smelling mismanagement And I I love to quote that because as You say Josh

Far too often we make the assumption That well poop stinks right and uh and Those that that awful Paradigm you Mentioned of the of the manure just Caking up and having to be taken out Packed out with a shovel uh people just Assume that as the norm But Joel's uh that quote from Joel uh Implies that there is another way if you Manage the hen house so it doesn't stink Um that's got to be doing it right you Know and I couldn't tell you the number Of times I have had people come through My uh Hen House who have visited visited Previously hen houses that didn't use The deep litter system and at some point They would stop look around and sniff And say Why doesn't it stick in here So yes there I I want your listeners to Understand that there is an alternative In which the interior of the hen house Doesn't smell bad At all and it's much a much more and Pleasant environment for you to be in When you go out to collect the eggs and So forth and it has to be a lot better For the chickens as well yeah so what Are what are some other benefits to the Deep betting method I mean obviously we Know okay it's reducing stink as making A cleaner environment healthier for the Chickens are there some other benefits To this to this deep litter method deep

Bed method do you consider mental health A benefit Because I think one of the great Benefits of uh of Deep glitter and by The way deep the deeper the better let's Let's call it at least four to six Inches as a minimum but uh up to 12 Inches if you can manage it that's Terrific but uh that uh field of loose Decomposables uh that is something they Can work in all day let's say in Winter I mean chickens should have access to The outdoors as much as we can manage But let's let's Imagine A Flock who's uh Confined a lot in the winter time And uh imagine how stressful it would be To just have nothing to do and just be Bored in this period of confinement And but if you go into my chicken house When the snow is three deep three feet Deep outside you'll find that my birds Are still very happily busy busy doing What scratching the litter and they're Scratching in the manure but they're Finding something or other Little Critters to eat and that has positive Health and feeding benefits this has Been proved in scientific experiments All right well let's I wanna I wanna get To in a minute here talking about Starting maintaining and just we'll We'll walk everybody through uh the Deep Bed method but are there times when you Wouldn't want to use the Deep bed method

You know where a person may have Chickens is there is there any reason Um where it's not advised or not really Applicable I I can't imagine Uh a A a chicken housing situation at any Scale In which I would not recommend deep Bedding deep litter as bet for best Manure management I will say that I I do recommend a Um an earth floor if you're going to Build new or if you have access in some Way to an earth floor Um I I do recommend that you can use a Constructed floor if that's what's Already available to you But um I have an earth floor and my hen House and the only time I ever had a Problem specifically with the deep Litter Was one uh one summer that we just had Unbelievable unbelievable amounts of Rain Uh every day for weeks we had rain rain And the I like an earth floor because There's always a slight wicking of a Residual amount of of moisture into the Litter that's a good thing But the litter should never get really Damp and that's what happened because of All of this rain coming in uh at the Underground Level and more than wicking

Up into it started uh wetting the base Of the litter and and making the whole Mass uh damp and that supported the Growth of mold and we we had some eye Infections and uh I I lost some uh Turkey poults that I was Raising and Um and you know you know how it is on The homestead you have these problems You take your hits but you learn from Them and so I learned the importance of Uh if for unusually rainy periods that's A time to really carefully monitor these State of the uh the litter and make sure It doesn't get damp you can add dry Shredded leaves uh you can add more of The totally dry Pine shavings Kilns dried Pine savings That you can buy at the co-op and Similar uh measures to uh to to get the Entire mass and remember the chickens Are going to have help by scratching and Distributing what you have added to dry Out the medium they're going to help by Working that in and getting the total Mass of the litter uh drier uh but That's the only time I ever had a Problem using uh deep litter and Um with that one exception in my own Experience I would just say I can't Imagine keeping chickens on any scale Whether a trio or 200 chickens I can't Imagine Not wanting to uh to have that Manure disposal kind of let's say going

On automatic That's really what deep litter is about You know and I think Um that's well that was the exception For you it's a it's a good note about Coupe design construction you were Talking about an earth floor and Generally having an earth floor you know For a little bit of moisture wicking but It does speak to especially if you're Getting started out knowing where you're Putting your Coop because if it ends up In a lowland and too wet of a spot Savings aren't going to solve all of the Problems if it's always damn and you're Gonna end up with mold problems and Different things and so that may be a Point where if you have no other choices A wood floor would be good or better Yeah probably try to make sure you're Building and putting in the right Location and and getting drainage so That you avoid most of those events I Mean sometimes we have a year right and The weather just does well yeah I can't Contain it but you don't want to end up With a coupe that's like that every year Yeah right this is a moment where the Wood shavings which is what we're Talking about I don't even know if you Really even said wood shavings yet for For deep litter but there's a point Where that's not going to absorb all the Moisture if it's too right right yeah so

That that's a very good point Um Josh I um Yeah if you're starting new with your Coop I do recommend an earth floor but That's an excellent point I I think you Should address the drainage issues and The location whether higher or lower Ground but also drainage and uh if you If you anticipate that you the drainage Is going to be a problem you should Start before uh making the coop itself You should start with some Preventive remediation on drainage for The site good point yeah Okay well let's let's talk about how to Get started so you've got a coupe let's Let's presume Um you you've got appropriately sized Coop you've got an appropriate sized Yard for your chickens hopefully you're Going to get to let them out but you Know you may a lot of people live Somewhere so they've got to have a Chicken yard that's fenced in given Production for Predators you got a Perfect housing we're kind of going to Go past all those details and just Assume for the sake of this conversation Somebody's getting started they have all Those things they're all ready to go Um and they're thinking about this deep Bedding method how how do you get Started what materials do you use and And you know what do you need to do

Let's uh let's back up just one minute Uh about a point that uh I think is Another thing to to address at the Beginning And uh it is a uh it is a design Point That's going to cost more bucks up front And so I think a lot of people might Avoid it but think about this I do like the Earth floor I do like the Uh the Deep bedding but the Deep bedding Is highly bioactive and so if it is in Contact full-time contact Uh with wooden structural members uh That's going to tend to degrade uh your Structure And so I wish now that I've I built a Pole barn structure and I did take Measures to protect that wood Um not using pressure treated wood but Took other measures to protect that wood But in retrospect I wish I had spent the Additional money to put in A perimeter Concrete block perimeter Foundation that Would be let's say the depth of the deep Litter of 12 inches say Um and that would be the deep litter Space but all of the wooden part of the Structure would be above the level of That concrete enclosure for the litter And then long term I wouldn't have to Worry about this Wooden parts of the structure being in Touch with that highly bioactive

Decompositional process that's going on In the litter so just keep that in mind Possibility uh as you start question can You think of something so say you have Gotten started you didn't get that Concrete in I think that's a wonderful Idea Um but what about something like a metal Perimeter like corrugated metal and I Think I saw Justin Rhodes do this this Um I think he it was more to do with Predator problems rats and stuff getting Into the coop but like corrugated metal On vertical so high up so to to create a Barrier an inexpensive barrier if you've Already got a coupe and you don't have That Foundation that seems like that Would probably be a good you know Aftermarket solution say Um yes metal or Um uh possibly fiberglass panels uh yes I think that would be a good remediation If you've already built but you want to Uh keep that Bio reactive uh litter out of contact With the wooden part of the structure Yes I think that would be a good way to To go yeah Good I'm gonna do that in a few weeks [Music] [Applause] So you can use a lot of different uh Materials for your deep litter but key On three characteristics

High carbon Loose and absorbent And decomposable now if you key on that Uh you know you pretty much can't get it Wrong about what you can use Uh high carbon to be sure because There's because there's a lot of Nitrogen in the incoming right the poop The poops that the birds are laying down Uh you know even if they are outside During the day which I hope they will be They're doing half their pooping at Night on the roost And uh a lot there's a lot of nitrogen In that and so you want your litter to Be as high carbon as possible to balance That uh incoming nitrogen as much as Possible for as long as possible The uh the the material should be loose And absorbent so it can absorb the Manure and so that the chickens can Easily work it and remember that those Uh all those microbes they need oxygen Just like you and I do keep this in mind About decomp about microbial action The decompositional microbes uh thrive In oxygen rich environments and a lot of The pathogenic organisms thrive in Anaerobic conditions oxygen starved Environments so you want the scratching Of the chickens in a loose medium loose Absorbent medium to work the manure in And keep lots of oxygen in the mix and That's gonna that's gonna

Support and decomposition that's the Whole point where we're establishing a Highly Decompositional medium Into which the poops can enter On their way to to their to the great Return to Earth breaking down to the Element the basic elements right so what Are some of those high carbon loose Small you know small enough to scratch In materials that you recommend Um One one thing that's uh readily Available and if you're operating on a Fairly small scale you can get the Bailed uh Kiln dried wood shavings from The cook from the co-op or a place like Tractor Supply Don't use cedar shavings or shavings of Other aromatic Woods don't use shavings Of black walnut but other than that uh Uh any uh dried wood shavings usually Purchased I use a lot of that That's an excellent high carbon loose Absorbent base Uh but Free at hand if you have a lot of trees Oak trees I love oak leaves they're very High carbon and they take longer to uh To be pulverizing to break down so They're actually doing the job for a Longer period of time before they have To be renewed but uh fall uh Fallen leaves in the autumn

And uh as I said my favorite is oak Leaves Uh Shredded cardboard if you can get That uh Shredded cardboard is very high Carbon and works very well and then you Might uh live near a place where a place That is doing uh processing of Agricultural products uh and you might Get some of their uh Refuge the refuse From their processing I'm thinking about Things like shredded corn uh stalks or Or crushed corn cobs or uh if you in There in an area that where a lot of Peanuts or buckwheat is grown Peanut holes or buckwheat hulls uh That's really really good uh deep litter Uh so Uh as long as we're focusing on the Three characteristics that I mentioned Um there's a pretty wide range of Materials that we can use What should not be used uh is uh the Things with a much lower uh ratio of Carbon to nitrogen in in the material Itself and a good example is hey you Know people sometimes think well how About hey cast off hey uh would wouldn't That be a good material because it is Certainly loose and absorbent but It it's uh carbon to nitrogen ratio Itself is uh low enough carbon in Relation to its own nitrogen that it Very quickly Starts generating ammonia uh as it

Breaks down and uh so stick with the High carbon materials So tree leaves with those because They're They're flat and you know a lot of flat Surface area will will the chicken will They mix up okay are you going to get Some layering do they need to be Shredded first or something or are they Okay just to take them off the trees in The fall and pile them up Um Uh yeah you can take you can make a big Leaf pile and then draw from that uh to As you renew your uh litter in the coop Um but yeah that now we're not talking About Green Leaves we're talking about Leaves that have dried and fallen off The tree so they are dry But even in the case of oak leaves and They're quite substantial Um I in my experience if they're dry And you're kind of topping off with them On an ongoing basis uh no they're not They're never gonna mat up Uh at least if the chickens have enough Space So let's so let's talk about that for a Minute uh Joel uh has made the Observation that I've heard many times That Um you know we all know that typically Chickens don't get enough space in their Housing

And we need uh and generally speaking to Get them a lot to give them a lot more Space in their housing but he makes this Very interesting rule of thumb Observation If the chickens uh have three square Feet Of um well let's do it in the reverse If the chickens have uh five square feet Per Bird on a deep litter system there Is not going to be any capping Any formation of an impervious crust of Manure on the top of any portion of the Litter they're going to keep it all Worked in to the litter Uh at four square feet there will be Some capping of manure Uh under the roost and it will be Necessary to uh to go in there with a Fork and turn that cap material over so They can work it from the bottom and Break it up and then scatter it out and Incorporate it and at three square feet For per bird there will be significant Significant capping over uh much of the Space So that's that's an argument in favor of Having more uh square footage for the Birds Uh and if you do the manure is never Going to be concentrated anywhere so That it cannot be efficiently worked Into the decomposing uh litter uh by the Chickens themselves okay

So you want to keep that at uh four foot Per bird four square foot per bird or Better Um so getting started you've got your Material picked oh you know what sorry Let me back up straw we didn't talk About straw and that's one common to a Lot a lot of people have access to straw It's either the bailed wood chips or Straws kind of a couple of things or Leaves that are very very common but What about straws straw a good medium Are there any challenges with using Straw Um Is uh is is certainly Um a little material that can be Considered And in my experience although I have Heard from people who say I use straw Over an earth floor without problems But uh let me make a sharp distinction Here Between straw as a litter over a Constructed floor And straw over an earth floor Um if you have a constructed floor A straw makes a perfectly good uh Glitter okay Uh you you still should you know over Time if you use that straw litter you Will find that it becomes overburdened With manure and that is not good but as Long as you continue adding fresh straw

Uh over that constructed floor it's Going to remain dry enough that it's not Go going to go to dampness and it is not Going to give rise to The growth of a mold called a mold Called aspergillus And breathing the spores of aspergillus Can cause serious uh respiratory Distress not only in our chickens but in Our own lungs so this is this is Something to be concerned about Um it is some it has been found that in Some cases a straw litter over an earth Floor will uh go toward uh growth of Aspergillus and that is not a good thing So Um I tend to avoid Straw in my litter my litter right now Is a mix of uh fall leaves and Um wood shavings Um And uh it is that mix and some Straw From The Nest gets scattered you know But and and that's not a problem but I Do not make a significant portion of my Litter straw over an earth floor I don't Want to take the chance of growth of Aspergillus Now uh by the way uh Josh when we were Talking about materials I talked about Wood shavings but I didn't talk about Wood chips and so let's make sure we Don't let's make sure we don't forget That question can you use wood chips

For deep litter and the Ant the answer The answer is yes yes differentiate for Us real quickly before you give us that Answer wood shavings versus wood chips Just some people don't know and so Somewhere there's a line between Shavings and chips the wood shavings are A byproduct of preparing Uh Wood and a Lumber mill starting with the tree trunk And cutting it rough selling at first And then planing it into the uh smooth Dimension boards that we've that we're Going by uh for for a construction Project so the those those those Thin shavings off the surface of the Rough sawn boards uh that's what we're That's what I'm calling uh wood shavings But wood chips uh are much coarser much Larger particles us uh if you see the Crews working on clearing the electric Lines and they're cutting down the Branches that are too close to the lines And they put them through a big chipper Uh and that chops that chops the the These larger limbs up into pieces let's Say uh maybe the size of your thumb and Smaller so uh it you have reduced the Volume of of these big ungainly uh Limbs And have condensed it into a pile of Chips Um but the the particle size is is quite Coarse But you will find that the chickens can Work a medium like that so it it's just

Fine for deep litter and he and here's The caveat Um you shouldn't use wood chips when They are still Green in other words totally fresh from Having been chipped from a live tree uh Don't use those uh uh wood chips that Are still in that green State they need To break down they need to uh decompose Some on their own because in that green Stage stage they too can give rise to The growth of certain molds that are not Going to be good for the chickens uh so You can put those chips into a pile Outdoors exposed to the weather Uh for several months half a year or up To a year and then uh you can start Moving them into the uh the chicken House Uh as a uh as a litter it's still a high Carbon litter that the chickens can work And will not uh produce these harmful Molds okay all right so we've got some Good options for starting a deep bed Some good carbon materials very very Solid carbon because all that poop is Nitrogen and Um How thick to start brand new bed Clean Coop what do you want to start With how much of a bed Um Well you know if if you're starting with An existing structure that may Place

Some limits on how deep you can go with The litter But I would I said earlier I I like to Think of four to six inches as the Minimum okay we we we do call it deep Litter for a reason you want some depth There you want to get some biological Depth in in the process that we're Encouraging so I would say uh try your Best to Um to to think of uh in your situation Four to six inches as the minimum and Joel uh and and say his racking house Where he they raise rabbits in cages Over uh laying hands who work who work The litter and he uses wood chips in There and uh he thinks of uh 12 inches As the minimum uh there so uh yeah Deeper is better but uh go with what uh You go with what is dictated by the Constraints of of maybe a building that You're already using or or other Limitations uh but you know even even a Few inches is better than that Accumulation of raw manure that that That doesn't do anything but stink it's Inert it's biologically it's it's not It's not in a happening situation to Decompose and re and and become become Something useful compost Uh as opposed to just just being a stink And a bother uh to have to deal with Right so we'll get to the we'll get to The compost here in a minute but getting

There so you've added your deep bedding You're starting general rule of thumb Four to six inches you can go deeper if You have less maybe you need to start a Little less fine but uh four to six Inches is a rule of thumb Maintaining that how often do you get in And turn it do you add shavings do you Just do four to six inches let it go so Far and remove it all what's what's the Maintenance once you've you've put you Know that initial bed down let's just Let's just call it six inches you put That in and what's what's next as far as Any maintenance what do you need to look For what do you need to watch to know Because I mean at some point it's going To accumulate manure so you've either Got to get it out or add more Um how do you how do you think about That how would you tell people to to What to do Josh are we talking about mucking out We are not talking about mucking out We are talking about Um that maintenance of the litter so That it is fully functional to do the Job So Uh here is one Um here is one uh okay let me put it This way Uh you you have enough homesteading Experience to learn that

The best learning Is To learn from your uh cows your goats Your chickens correct and learn and Learn from the plants in your garden you You are a student when you try to do any Of these things on the homestead and in The garden and in the same way as you Work with the uh deep litter there is a Learning process who is your teacher the Deep litter So the first uh early on you're going to Have this experience at a certain point The car the uh the nitrogen and the Incoming manure Constantly added It's going to kind of overtake Overwhelm the amount of carbon in the Litter and what happens then You start smelling Ammonia ammonia starts being produced Ammonia is a gas Of nitrogen NH3 it is a gas produced by excess Nitrogen and of course everybody who who Uh makes compost in a conventional uh Compost heap they smell that manure when There's too much nitrogen in the mix That's what you smell coming out of that Heap nitrogen and that's all of your Good old I mean uh ammonia and when you Smell that you know all of your great Nitrogen that you would wanted to be in The compost for use in the soil it's

Being gassed off to the atmosphere so in The in the hen house Um The the Um the litter itself will instruct you It will teach you that you have allowed The process to go for uh to imbalance Too much nitrogen and the signal is uh That with of ammonia now at that point You add more high carbon uh material So that you re-establish balance and Actually you want an imbalance in favor Of carbon to to to keep uh neutralizing All of that incoming uh uh nitrogen in The manure But what I'm talking about the learning Process is the first couple of times Your nose is going to tell you but Remember That uh ammonia in the atmosphere of the Hen house can be damaging to the Respiratory tissues and the lungs of Your birds before your nose can detect It but do but do not despair Once you've had once you've Had that experience a couple of times You learn to read the litter you you can Just look at the litter and you can read The condition and you know when it's About to go over into ammonia production And you also know what is the solution Add more high carbon litter So that so so we're not talking about a Need to muck out on any schedule but

Rather Um the proper management so uh and in The litter so that the nitrogen never Gets out ahead to produce ammonia so let Me synthesize that a little bit and and This is pretty much what I tell my kids Is they're learning to manage the coop Or or any area in your barn because we Have to apply this on a fairly large Scale and so if you smell if you start To smell that ammonia or that manure It's time to add and as you're doing That visually observe realize that you Want to start learning to add before you Smell anything and you'll as you're as You're saying you will learn to observe You should be observing right you're Looking you're going okay I need Dad Shavings uh all right now I'm starting To see what this looks like and I can Start to know right right and add those Shavings and so I think that ties into Kind of the next question that people Can ask and that's kind of how much do I Need to add you know do I add an inch do I add three inches Um and again I think and and you go Ahead and take this but I think that it It you know you kind of got to observe And and learn to feel that out as well Right if you've let it go too far you Might need a little bit more but if you Can be preemptive you can put I tell my Kids put more on you know Less on more

Often you know right right letting it Get to where oh man you walk in you Smell and you go now you got to feel Like you got to put you know Yes don't get to the point that you have To over remediate yeah but instead Um yeah uh frequent smaller applications Are better and uh uh in this game Yeah yeah when it comes to adding more High carbon uh litter There's no such thing as adding too much If you've if you've got the space to to To add a lot uh you you can't add too Much you can add too much nitrogen That's what creates ammonia you can't Have too much carbon but yes Josh uh the The key I think as you get into the Rhythm of work of managing the deep Litter as you get into that Rhythm yes You find that uh uh Frequent smaller additions you know a Couple of inches at a time uh is that That's that's really better than uh Letting it go too far and then try to Play catch up with with big additions Yes right okay so let's and and excuse Me but uh sometimes the rhythm is Determined partly by uh what what's Coming in at the time so in the fall You're dealing with all these fall Leaves and you might find that you're You're you're adding more than you Really need to uh to balance the uh the Incoming poops you you add more at that

Time just because you've got so many More uh leaves coming in although you Can always stockpile them in a big heat Too right so let's let's follow this out To The Logical conclusion which is that Yeah you're adding carbon you're adding Nitrogen somewhere it's going to get Deeper and and your space is filling up And you've got to move from maintenance To mucking out no no you ain't gonna Muck you ain't ever going to knock out That's that's that's The beauty of a well-managed deep litter You're never mucking out so so instead Of mucking out at the stage you're Talking about uh we're gonna do compost Removal okay all right now you're Talking my language removal so so yes We had we went from chicken poop and Wood shavings to where we're removing Compost yeah yeah yeah what happens The whole time we've been making compost And that's right got it that's right That's right and that's and that's why I Often use the term the term magic when When I am talking about this subject Because all this time we just been Trying to keep this Hen House from Stinking right right But at a certain stage if you if you uh Fork aside some of that loose fresher uh Coarser material on the top you find to Your amazement that and especially over An earth floor

Um you you find that that finally Granulated material at the bottom has Literally turned uh turned into compost Down below down next to the Earth turned Into compost and you you scoop up a Handful and you smell it and it's just Like picking up a handful of finished Compost from a well-managed compost Conventional compost heap that you had To work so much turning and turning and Turning it has that earthy smell And not the slightest hint of raw manure Hmm and and you can take that out you Know uh when we think of mucking out Then that's got to be done on some kind Of sane schedule so so that things won't Get too bad in there but but when we're Uh when we're taking out compost when And as needed Um there there's no particular schedule For that you are going to reach some Limit where you you just can't go any Higher with the level of the litter and You will need to remove that uh some of The material but Um do Fork aside the fresher drier Looser more still High carbon and not broken out material Move that aside first And then scoop out all of that nice Composty stuff next to the Earth and Take that out and and use it in the Garden Um but leave some of that too because it

Will help to inoculate uh the fresh Material that you then add and keep the Process going By the way Getting back to straw litter over a Constructed floor That can work for reasons that we Discussed earlier however In my experience Uh the the uh A straw litter over a constructed floor Should be further composted in a Conventional compost heat before using In the garden that's my experience and The compost that's that we talked about That fine granular dark crumbly stuff Under the top of the deep litter that Can be used directly in the garden in my Experience okay so essentially just let That deep bedding get as deep as you can Handle it you can just keep going keep Adding but but I think something I want To draw out here is from looking at it You're not going to really see that it's Finished it's doing its thing down under But your outings you've always got new Layers on top so really you're either Going to let it go as deep as you can Handle your Coop your your Infrastructure can handle or you may Come to the point it's springtime you'd Like some compost whatever the reason Move the top layer aside and it'll be Pretty obvious you'll have the loose

Stuff hasn't broken up yet you can move That to the side and then remove the Deeper stuff and Thread the other stuff back out and add Some more and keep on going so so yes so Josh we could say that the rhythm of the Management of the manure the rhythm of The management of the deep litter at That point uh becomes part of the larger Rhythms of uh uh adding to for soil Fertility in the garden or around your Uh nut trees or on the pasture Um whenever you need that compost and And this kind of system it's going to be There almost almost any time you need it In the usual cycles of wanting to renew The fertility of the soil it's going to Be there ready to go Love that they're doing more than Producing eggs They're actually growing beans and Cucumbers for you right right right so We're we're getting down on time and I Don't want to keep you too long but Um another question here for people and And I know you kind of have a situation Like this you've got your indoor Coop And you've got your outdoor yard Attached to your Coop Um and so is there any difference in Managing the two ones ones inside it's Under root you know that's where the the Chickens are sleeping laying eggs in the Winter and the rain the one that's

Outside like you have a yard outside all Protected but you're you're doing that Deep bedding out there as well is there Any differences in managing that and Kind of that that goes into the next Thought is about you know adding other Things like you know vegetable scraps From the house is it you're going to be Feeding your chickens you know waste From the garden whatever how does that Come together maybe they're two separate Things but I kind of see them use one in That yard No there is uh there are important Distinctions to be made but we start With the Uh the basic Vision shall we say That Um if your chickens are in or confined To a chicken run outside and there are Other options for example like uh Setting them up to be on pasture But if you have to go with a confined Chicken Run Then as I always put it uh bring the Deep litter concept from the from inside The coop to the outside Uh and it will provide the all the same Benefits giving the chicken something to Do and certainly some some Critters to Find that they can eat in the uh the Deep mulchy litter Um and preventing the manure from just Becoming a source of uh flies breeding

And a source of runoff pollution So uh we in in the outdoor run we should Again Lay down as thick a layer as we can Manage of all of those cast off Decomposables Um that any Homestead produces but Here's the big difference Outdoors we no longer have to think in Terms of Um uh using only the high carbon Materials that is that is quite Appropriate for indoor deep litter but On the outside guess what Any decomposables produce on the Homestead just throw them in there and To be part of that uh base Uh that the chickens are going to be Working in and pooping in and finding Critters to eat out of so spent crop Plants from the garden Uh prunings from the flower beds Again uh leaves fallen leaves in the Fall Uh just on and on and on and uh Um lawn clippings if you if you're going To mow your lawn so uh the clippings From the lawnmower that's good grain Feed for the chickens but Don't just dump in really deep layers of Pure uh grass clippings they will they Will uh become a they will collapse into A dense putrid Mass Uh growing with moles and slippery and

Hazardous to walk on so instead for Using the grass clippings uh just just Apply a sprinkling a very light Sprinkling that's not at all deep just Half an inch or so in there the chickens Will eat some of it incorporate the rest Into uh the rest of the Duff Uh where it will become part of the Decompositional process so that's the Big difference uh all these other Materials that you wouldn't want to use Inside Uh like uh bean and pea Vines you know You put those on the inside of the hen House uh and they just shoot the Nitrogen way up because of their own Contained nitrogen but Outdoors Um it's really more like a sir Albert Howard Style conventional style gardeners Compost heat that's much more like that And you just uh but unlike sir Albert Howard's compost heat you don't have to Layer the Browns and the greens and you Know you don't have to you don't have to Be fussy about the process as the Organic compostables are generated you Just throw them in there and the Chickens will love it And and the end product is the same Great compost for use I actually use Them to do your composting for you yes Yes the mic there slip down a little bit Might have got against your beard I

Think I was getting a little static There we think it was rubbing a little Right right yeah and I that's the thing I love is you can take all that material Give it to the chickens and let them add To it and and mix it up and compost for You so uh it's it's a it's one of the Pathways On the way to zero waste on the Homestead Love that idea moving towards zero waste And I don't know if we can get to zero But there we sure have lots of Opportunity to minimize I think we're Always learning that we can make better Use of what we have and create less Waste or at least put that waste to a Proper use in an organic system we Should be able to do that more and more And more and I think that's just a good Segue you guys uh what what Harvey's Sharing here is just one piece of the Picture of a a very holistic management System for taking care of your flock so I want to encourage you guys to check Out Harvey's site the modern Homestead He's got an extensive blog there I Believe uh where he's writing you you Keep that up to date you're still Writing your blog and and uh creating New content or is that a um It's not a Blog per se in the sense that I add a new uh bit of content every day Or every every week but it is a large

Library of articles that can be of use To The Gardener and keeper of poultry Um and um and yes I do add new material From time to time yeah but yes but yes But yes it's uh I think it's about 200 Pages now of some fairly information Dents Pages yeah that's that's a Resource you guys want to be bookmarking And saving when you're um you know you Want to do some research besides putting Harvey's book on your shelf as well uh You did mention the modern Homestead Button but note that the extension is Dot u s And there are other the modern Homesteads with different extensions so Go for that dot us and we will put that URL in the link down below along with a Link to Harvey's book to the revised Edition of the small scale poultry flock And as well look for a class we we've We've uh Harvey has produced a video Teaching class going through a lot of These concepts for the school of Traditional skills that's also going to Get released in December and Harvey's Going to come back so Um some great resources Harvey it's been Great hanging out with you and I just Want to thank you for sharing your Knowledge and time with all of us today Uh really appreciate you Thank you for having me Josh I've Enjoyed the chat and uh I hope your

Listeners will uh get some tips they can Use in this very very important uh topic Thank you well we will talk to you soon See you later Everybody Take Care Bye-bye

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