If you start raising livestock you’ll probably come across a method of bedding called the Deep Littler Method (DLM). It’s the practice of layering new clean litter/bedding on top of the old and letting it build up over time. The layers underneath absorb the moisture and odors and start composting while the top layers stay dry and keep the animals warm. With this method you only muck the bedding twice a year or so.
I first read about it when we were brooding our first flock of layer chickens and I was trying to wrap my head around having to clean up so much poo all the time. We have used this method in our coop and it works great! There’s never been an issue with ammonia smell in the coop! I throw a bit of chicken scratch in the coop from time to time and the girls scratch up the litter, effectively mixing up the doo-doo and the pine chips/straw and keeping things tidy.
Goats, however, are not like chickens. 😉 At all…
They are not at all clean! And as far as being intelligent animals you’d think that they would NOT want to potty where they sleep, but in fact, just the opposite is true! They will actually come in from outside to squat in the straw, especially if I have just mucked it and it’s all nice and fresh! Ugh!! Why!!!!!??????
But, you actually CAN do a DLM with goats as well. The thing is, goats have delicate respiratory tracts and from what I’ve read pneumonia is a leading cause of death in goats. So you really want to keep the “ick” smell and especially ammonia vapors down. Which can be a challenge if you are letting bedding build up.
So what we did in our LRB was to section off a part of it that would be the DLM bedding area, and the other side we left as dirt and I mucked it weekly. It worked out and odor wasn’t really a problem. I would sprinkle a “stall freshener” called Sweet PDZ over the soiled bedding and then layer the new bedding over it.
Then when Polka had her babies and decided to dig a nest in the bedding, ugh! all those odors that were so neatly contained were freed. Blah! It was gross! I kept tossing down clean straw under her when she’d get up. Polly decided to kid on the “dirt” section of the barn, but I had put down straw all over it before hand so it was okay. At least she didn’t dig in the icky part.
Then the other day while the goats were out to play, the hens discovered the barn and it’s awesome deep litter. You know what hens like to do in deep litter? Why, un-deepen it looking for yummy morsels, of course! This was the mess they left for me.
So I decided that since it was Spring anyway, I might as well muck out the whole barn space and start on our Summer plan, which is not a DLM but to be mucked regularly to keep flies down. But once I got in there with the pitch fork I found what a revolting job it was to get all of that stuff out of there. 😛
I’m pretty sure I took about 8 FULL wheelbarrows out of that place and the smell was just…. well…. amazing to say the least!
It was a LOT of work!! But still it only took me a couple of hours one afternoon to get it done, so over all not bad for several months of bedding build up.
Will I do it again? Yes! And the answer is because I don’t like the cold! 😉 I don’t want to spend so much time mucking in the winter months! And the build up of composting litter also helps keep the animals warm. So yes, I’ll do it again next winter.
In the meantime, if anyone knows of a way to potty train goats to NOT pee in their bedding, let me know. 😉
All, clean! For the time being.