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Deep litter is an animal housing system, based on the repeated spreading of straw or sawdust material in indoor booths.[1] An initial layer of litter is spread for the animals to use for bedding material and to defecate in, and as the litter is soiled, new layers of litter are continuously added by the farmer.[2] In this fashion, a deep litter bedding can build up to depths of 1–2 meters.[3] "The usual procedure for built-up floor litter is to start with about 4 inches of fine litter material with additions of 1 to 2 inches later as needed without removal of the old. A depth of 6 to 12 inches is maintained by partial removals from time to time." (Plamondon)[4] Many consider this to be a natural means to disposing of animal feces. “The deep litter cultivation is a modern ecological breeding technique based on decomposing feces by microbiological methods, a post processing method for poultry Manure.” (Li, 1410)[5]

 

History

The deep litter method was first used in 1946 by the Ohio Station Brooder House. Before the deep litter method, shavings were removed every one to two weeks, in order to avoid dampness and coccidia. Later, it was discovered that deep litter provides adequate protection from these naturally. The deeper litter provides extra insulation in colder temperatures, as well as extra heat from the decomposition of the litter. Another potential benefit is that when raised under conditions that don’t provide adequate nutrition, deep litter poultry is healthier than poultry raised in the traditional method of housing. "By not removing the waste, good microbes come and make their homes in the litter. These microbes actually eat and break down the feces and consume unhealthy bacteria, leaving good bacteria behind." (Natural Chicken Keeping)[1]


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