How to use the deep litter housing system for chicken

How to use the deep litter housing system for chicken

When it comes to raising commercial poultry, there are two main systems you can rely on: 

  • Battery cage systems 
  • Litter systems.

Each of these two chicken housing systems has its pros and cons. It all depends on what you want to achieve and how much money you have to pay for the project.

And if you are planning to start a poultry farm using deep litter method, then this article is for you. In this article, you will learn about the pros and cons of using a deep litter system for raising poultry.
Also, you'll find some powerful tips that will help you raise chickens successfully using a deep litter system. Now, if you are ready to learn more about the deep litter system for poultry care, let's go.

What is a deep litter system for chickens?
The deep litter system is an intensive poultry management system that requires rearing chickens on a compacted floor that is covered with layers such as wood shavings, groundnut husk, rice bran, etc.
The bedding material is what referred to as"litter" and that is where the name deep litter system of chicken come from.

What are the advantages of a deep litter system for chickens?
Poultry farming using a deep composting system has many advantages for the farmer. Unlike a battery-operated system where chicken droppings fall to the floor, litter
plays an important role in extracting water from chicken droppings.
It also promotes drying by increasing the surface area of house floor and insulation for the chick  from the cooling effect of the ground. In addition, it also has a cushion effect on chicks.
This helps the chicks regain their balance when moving around the coop. As the chicks grow and gain weight, the litter material increases the weight of the babies, which is important for the development of bones and muscles.

Here are some of the benefits of using deep litter systems in poultry farming. 

  • It increases the efficiency of poultry management 
  •  Using wood shavings as bedding helps reduce odors because it reduces the ammonia in the air that comes from poultry droppings.
  • Supports the management of large flock
  •  Maximizes land use 
  •  Helps to eliminate common bone disorders usually common in battery terminal systems. 
  • Increases growth/output rate 
  •  Maximizes use of labour
  •  Chickens have enough space to roam around and be healthy.
  • Reduces egg losses caused by wild animals, snakes and thieves 
  • A deep litter system also allows chickens to exhibit their natural behavior of scratching the ground in search of food or warmth.
  • Remove the chicken from the cold weather condition.
  • Ease identification of sick birds.

  • Another advantage of the deep waste system is that you can remove the waste from the poultry and use them for mulching or as manure on the farm. 

What are the disadvantages of deep litter systems for chickens?

Although this method of chicken production has many advantages for the breeder, it also has some disadvantages.
Here are some of the disadvantages of the deep fryer system:

  •  The deep litter system requires a large quantity of litter, which increases the production cost.
  •  There is a greater demand for cannibalism and pecking of feather in this system than in the cage poultry production system.
  •  Also, diseases and parasites spread quickly in the deep litter system.
  •  Raising hens using a deep litter system makes eggs dirty. 
  • Finally, it is difficult to detect non-breeding birds in the hen house and it is difficult to catch birds in the farm.

What are the most common mistakes farmers make in deep litter poultry farming?

 Some of the most common mistakes farmers make when using this method include the following.

1. Bad management of the bedding materials
When it comes to deep litter systems and poultry farming, bedding management is important.
In fact, chickens spend most of their time munching on the litter. You need to make sure that you add litter regularly and change it completely on time.

2. Improper Use of litter Materials

Another common problem is using the wrong bedding in poultry farms.
For example, using fine litter like sawdust will cause problems for your chickens. Because of its thinness, it is not durable enough to be used as a litter material.
Also, birds inhale dust that clogs their lungs, causing breathing problems. 

3. Not considering separated infected chickens
As you already know, one of the weaknesses of the deep deep litter system is the inability to quickly identify sick chickens. But, there is no doubt that you have to be careful so that you can identify these sick birds and isolate them.
If you don't spot a sick bird quickly and separate it from the flock, you can kill all your birds.

 4. Poor pest management
This is another mistake that many chicken breeders can make when using deep litter systems. Since the chickens are free to run freely in the coop, you need to make sure that you block all the openings.
If a rat or even your cat or dog enters the room, it will probably cause damage. 

5. Improper handling of feeder and drinkers
Finally, handling the feeders and drinkers (especially the drinkers) incorrectly is a mistake that farmers make when using the deep litter system of the chicken house. I have to emphasize the water dispensers, because many farmers use them carelessly and pour water on the litter.

When water gets into the litter, it makes it wet and uncomfortable for the chickens. In addition, pouring hot water makes your chicken house smell bad, which can harm the health of the chickens.

How to Succeed Using a Deep litter System for Poultry farming

1. Feed the chickens a healthy diet that meets their nutritional requirement.

Chickens that are raised in deep litter must eat a good diet to stay healthy. You should know that as birds roam free in the chicken coop, they need more energy.
They use more energy to move, run, scatter and scratch. Therefore, you need to make sure that you will help them to make up for the lost energy.
You do this by feeding the chickens enough food to give them energy and meet their nutritional needs.

 2. Implement strict biosecurity measures 

Chicken is susceptible to bacteria and viruses.
For this reason, you need to make sure that you take precautions to prevent disease from entering the chicken coop. You may decide to restrict access to the poultry house so that the visitor does not introduce external diseases into the flock.
Another way to ensure the safety of living things is to wear special clothes and shoes when entering the farm. In addition, you should be sure to clean clothes, shoes, tools and other equipment that you use in the chicken house.
Install a foot and hand bath at the garage door to facilitate hygiene. Also hold educational materials on the walls to guide visitors' movements and explain the rules of agriculture.
If you lose a bird in the chicken coop, always bury the body away from the farm. By doing all these things, you will protect your birds from harmful diseases that can cause high poultry mortality.

3. Choose the right bedding material for the poultry house

One thing you need to know is that the depth of your chicken coop is as good as chicken manure.
Therefore, it is important that you choose the best chicken coop for your home. There are different types of bedding materials that you can use in your chicken coop.
However, these items must meet certain criteria. For bedding that will be used in your chicken coop, it must meet this checklist;

  • It must be absorbent
  • The litter should be dry and friable
  • Should be free of bacteria and viruses
  • Finally, it must be cheap and readily available

Some examples of bedding materials that are suitable as litter aids include:

  •  Sadust
  • Wood shaving
  • Groundnut husk
  • Rice brand, etc.

 Among all these materials, sawdust and wood shaving are the most commonly used materials.
If we consider the above features, you will find that wood shaving is the best beeding material for chickens, especially in deep litter systems. Sawdust is also good, but it is good for birds raised in battery-cage systems where the birds do not have access to the ground.
One of the biggest disadvantages of using sawdust is that its small particles can cause blindness or respiratory problems in chickens. 

Therefore, if you want to feed your chickens in a deep litter system, I recommend using wood shavings as bedding or bedding.

4. Learn to manage your bedding materials

It's one thing to use the best bedding for your deep-sea chicken coop, but it's another to maintain it.
Bedding materials is important on the farm to handle both the solid and liquid waste that are produced by chickens. Therefore, this helps to keep the soil dry and comfortable for the chickens.
If you don't dispose of waste properly, it can start harboring harmful bacteria and viruses that can lead to infectious diseases. So it's very important that you don't let this happen.
Always replace the litter every 2 weeks or every month as long as it is not harmful to the chickens. Make sure the litter is always dry no matter what

 A wet litter materials is hell for chickens because it makes it easier for harmful bacteria to grow and makes the coop smell bad. It is good practice to prevent all of this from happening in order to make good use of the deep house system.

5. Be careful with how to handle feeders and drinkers
Feeders and drinkers are very important tools that you need in your deep litter system.
This tool allows chickens to get food and water quickly. Therefore, you should provide as many feeders and water as possible to ensure that the chickens do not have problems getting food and water.
In addition, you need to make sure that you give the chickens clean water and replenish their feed every day so that they do not get sick. Additionally, you should maintain cleanliness by washing the water regularly and making sure the feeder is free of chicken droppings.
To prevent chickens from throwing their feces on feeder and drinkers it is better to use a hanging type of equipment. Just make sure the equipment is placed at their heart level for easy access.

6. Disease control and management

Because chickens live in deep waste systems, they are more susceptible to disease than battery house systems.
In addition, the fact that all the birds work together makes the spread of disease easier. For these reasons, it is very important to prevent the spread of disease in your chicken farm.
In this case, you should check the birds every day for signs of sick birds. Once you find one, you need to remove the bird so that it does not spread the disease.
In addition, you can seek help from a veterinarian if you are not an expert in this area. A veterinarian will help you identify the disease, its causes and what you can do to stop it.

7. Prevent parasites and predators from attacking chickens
Just as you protect chickens from disease, you also need to protect them from parasites and predators.
Insects and predators that can attack your chickens in the deep waste system are snakes, cats, rats and mice. To prevent these insects, you need to keep your farming area free of weeds and weeds.
Wild, dirty areas harbor insects, including snakes and rats. Cut grass and weeds around your garden up to three meters from the garden.
If possible, dig a hole around the truss, use blocks and cement to create a gutter, fill the gutter with water and add black gasoline. This will help prevent ants and other crawling insects from entering the garden.


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