We’ve discovered the perfect litter choice for us: Deep.

It’s cheap. It’s easy.  It takes practically no time.  It produces compost. It keeps the chickens warmer in the winter.

Does it get any better than that? I think not.

When it comes to homesteading, we’re about as easygoing as you can get.  Cleaning out the chicken coop every day and following around our darling little chickens with a pooper scooper is not my idea of fun.  This system was made for people like us.

Deep litter method

The idea:

  • Clean out the coop
  • Lay down at least 6 inches of clean bedding
  • Let the chickens poop all over it
  • Turn it over once a week to bury the poop and bring fresh bedding to the surface
  • Continue to lay down fresh bedding so the depth always remains at least 6 inches
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat
  • Twice a year clean out the coop, removing your compost but leaving a bit of it so the microbes can integrate into the new fresh bedding.

I like everything about this system and I’m hoping it works out for us this year.  Our litter is composed of any and all organic matter we could get our grubby little hands on.

We used all of the leaves raked from our yard in Autumn.

Have you ever tried to rake leaves while your chickens ‘help’ you?  It’s not the easiest.



OOooo what’s this!? Watch me jump in these leaves! Here, let me help you spread this leaf pile around the yard! Hey guys! Come help me spread out these leaves! This human doesn’t seem to know what she’s doing!

Leaves were also pilfered from all over the neighborhood from unsuspecting neighbors (how nice of them to bag them up and leave them by the side of the road for us!)

Random bales of straw used for Halloween decor and abandoned on the roadside went in too.  Extra fun= tossing big hunks of straw in the coop and letting your chickens spread it around for you as they scratch through it for seeds.


Piles and piles of cheap pine shavings from a saw mill entered into the mix when we ran out of freebies

So far we’re loving the deep litter method.  We’ll have to wait and see how it works out in the long run!

Here’s a run down of the pros and cons:


  • Free/Cheap!
  • Raking leaves is good exercise
  • Creating quality compost is fast and easy
  • Don’t have to clean every week
  • Good Absorption
  • Scratching through the litter alleviates boredom for the chickens


  • Chickens see giant piles of leaves and start laying their eggs where ever they damn well feel like it.  Ever searched for eggs in 12 inches of dry leaves? Why won’t you use your nest boxes, chickens?! Why??
  • A lot of work up front to rake and gather the leaves
  • Straw bales are heavy and awkward and attempting to fit them into your tiny hatchback while cars whiz by you on a main road is rather unpleasant.
  • Your neighbors will think you’re insane when they see you stealing bags of leaves from their curb
  • Leaf Mold + Allergies = miserable egg gathering

How many of you have successfully used the deep litter method?  Do you use another method that works better? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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