Since this was my first winter-over with our ducks, I did a truckload of research on how to create good bedding, flooring space, and also keeping it clean without breaking the bank on straw.
The deep litter method kept coming up, so I read and read some more. It made sense, was a bit expensive to start, but evened out price wise over the course of the winter. It claimed to self compost over time, keep the odor way down, and sanitary for the animals living there.
The bonus claim was, by spring you would have a mountain of composted straw with good nutrition from duck poop droppings for all of your gardens.
STARTING – Wood shavings 6-12″ deep, this was the base. Than about 2″ of straw. Every day you take your pitch fork and turn the straw over, especially the soiled straw, and then add another layer of 1-2″ of straw, until the straw depth totaled about 12″.
Everyday you add straw and then every day you are turning over the straw, basically mixing it.
DEPTH – Someday’s I felt like things were a bit too deep for my ducks, and a bit difficult to travel over. Since their inside enclosure, an enclosed green house, is where they spent their time on the bitter cold days where outside travel was too hard on their webbed feet, it was a little hard on them with all of the loft. They for sure could mash it down by the end of the day, but it was lofty.
SUPPLIES – our floor space for our ducks required 20 blocks of shavings, we purchased BIG SKY SHAVINGS and we purchased about 30 wheat straw bales ( I still have about 7 remaining).
LABOR – you have to turn it every day. Manual labor is something I don’t mind, so this was not a big deal, and I found a lot of hidden eggs I wouldn’t have found otherwise. I also believe this stops mice from setting up shop as everything is moved every single day.
SMELL – This method does keep the odor to a non-existant level. I would actually bring my computer out to Fort Duckworth, set it on a stack of straw bales and work out there because it was that nice.
COMPOST – In my mountain climate, by the time spring came, nothing was really composted and broken down into dust or smaller pieces of straw like the articles promised. That was a little disappointing.
But as soon as we mucked out the majority of the straw and wood chips, which was a lot of product, and mounded it in the pasture, with the addition of sun, snow, and rain, it did break down in about a week, it was that ready but just needed more moisture and sunlight to really do its thing.
USES – The winter duck litter is now on top of all of my garden beds, squash mounds, tree wells, and in our bigger compost pile as my brown material. Besides straw and wood shavings it has the added oomph of duck poop, a great nitrogen source that isn’t quite as hot as chicken poop so a bit safer to use in the same season.
FULL CIRCLE – So I feed my ducks organic food, they get to pasture eat and cruise for about 7 months out of the year when it is warm enough, they poop in the straw and in the pasture, creating free fertilizer, and then we get to collect their eggs for eating and for our dogs raw food. A barter trade system – I take care of them with an awesome life and they fertilize our gardens and feed our family. I love this.
RECOMMEND? – Yes I will be doing this again, but maybe not quite so thick this coming winter and not on the entire floor space, I want my ducks to have more flat earth space to walk on this winter.
I hope this helps, Nancy