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Deep littering -- have you tried it?

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  • Deep littering -- have you tried it?

    I have been reading UK horse forums regarding their "deep littering" techniques. I'm confounded by the concept that there is no ammonia smell. Has anyone tried this? Thoughts? Any chance it will work OVER stall mats?

    Here's a link that discusses the technique:
    http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/forum...d.php?t=489716
    Nothing with horses is ever easy or cheap. And if it is, you're doing it wrong. They always rip out part of your soul when they leave. I guess that's how they find us later.

  • #2
    I went to England for a week and stayed at the Bartle's stable. They deep litter there, and it worked quite well. They did it over concrete in the back half of the stall (I want to say the stalls were 12x16 or 12x24), and the front half was matted and left bare.

    It was really odd but it worked, no pee smell, the poop stayed on top, and it was dry and comfortable. They just "skipped" the poop out 2x, and removed any pee on top that wasnt already pressed down underneath.

    Comment


    • #3
      I tried it once & it worked well until spring "dig-out" time. Then, I wanted to put a bullet in my head - lol!

      Comment


      • #4
        I've done it lots: We did sheep in straw and I've done horses in both straw and peat moss. Once it is working, bacteria keep it fresh smelling. Peat seems to have an unlimited ability to absorb moisture.

        The only thing is payback time is in the Spring when eventually it has to be cleaned out before it reaches the rafters. Backbreaking work. But great for the garden. Some people complain about the peat being dirty, it does track in and out, but because it is slightly moistened (barely) it is not dusty.

        You can also start with peatmoss for the base and then change to straw or shavings, but I never used shavings so can't speak to it.

        I now keep my horses in/out so have changed a bit.
        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Bacardi1 View Post
          I tried it once & it worked well until spring "dig-out" time. Then, I wanted to put a bullet in my head - lol!


          How bad was it?

          (I've already keyed in on the "back breaking" comment.}
          Nothing with horses is ever easy or cheap. And if it is, you're doing it wrong. They always rip out part of your soul when they leave. I guess that's how they find us later.

          Comment


          • #6
            Don't agree with it and don't do it. I guess to each his own but to me it's nasty. Deep litter with shavings = black beds with fresh sprinkled on top. I have very thick deep straw beds and keeping them properly is not an issue. And I don't understand why it would be to necessitate "deep litter". I'll admit when I first moved to Ireland and heard of and saw deep litter, I thought really? A bit lazy or what? But like I said to each his own. FYI, I have 5 and work too.
            COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

            "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.

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            • #7
              Well, to be honest, I decided to try it because I was health-incapacitated & would be for most of the winter. Trying deep litter made it easier for me & my long-commute-full-time-job husband to keep up on things.

              Amazingly enough, it's true that there's no ammonia smell - even right down @ ground zero - & I never had any foot/hoof problems with the beasts or cleanliness problems.

              But that springtime cleanout - yikes. Yes, the end product was great for the garden, but hubby & I were singing chain-gang songs during the whole process.

              Comment


              • #8
                i have used it with my goats, it was the reccomended method in most of the gaot books I read..It works fine for them, I have not tried it with the horses.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Advantages of deep littering are warmth, padding, economy and time-saving, disposal in the garden.
                  For people rushing out to work in the dark and coming back in same, it is an answer;
                  but eventually it needs shoveling out - when you need a person with a strong back,
                  as it packs down.
                  Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I grew up using it here in the USA. The stalls were bedded *deep* in sawdust and packed down. Walking into a stall was like walking onto a memory foam mattress...it was almost springy. You could lay face down on the bedding and not smell a thing other than sawdust. Pee spots were literally just a spot...where the stream of urine hit the top of the bedding...the pee just followed that spot and filtered down to floor level under the 12+" deep bedding. It would spread down there, not on the surface.

                    The bedding itself stays pretty well packed, even with stall walkers. Only the top couple inches would be loose. Manure was picked right off of the top, a little fresh added as needed but once you had a base built up you didn't have to add much very often.

                    Walking into the barn even in the dead of winter with everything closed up and all 20+ horses inside that barn there was absolutely no ammonia smell. I walk into some barns these days...well kept barns....and they stink. Our deep litter barn only stank on the days we stripped stalls. And then...when that bottom layer was broken into....PHEW!

                    We used heavy metal pitchforks, just chopped a square loose, lifted it and tossed into the wagon in the barn aisle. Sure it was heavy, but it only took about 20 minutes per stall to strip it bare. Left to air all day and then start the re-bedding process that night. Stalls were stripped only a few times annually.

                    Never had thrush issues either, those stalls were bone dry and smelled nice all the time. But, you need to really pack in a *lot* of bedding. And I found sawdust worked best since it packed best. I'd still use it today if my barn had been built for it, but the floors don't drop down into the stalls so I use mats and Woody Pet now. I still bed pretty darned deep though...grew up used to stalls at least a foot deep if not more. To me anything less than 6-8" isn't done being bedded, LOL!
                    You jump in the saddle,
                    Hold onto the bridle!
                    Jump in the line!
                    ...Belefonte

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have one stall that is just dirt instead of mats. I do the deep littering in that. I started for an elderly mare that needed warmth for the winter. I also use EM (Effective Microorganisms) to help rid of the urine odor (by 80%) and helps to compost in short time. I bank up the edges of the stall. I use softwood pine wood pellets. I love it. Clean out the manure daily, scratch down new pellets on top of the old. It stays warm, dry and no odors. When spring rolls around strip it out and use it for the gardens.
                      --Gwen <><
                      "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."
                      http://www.thepenzancehorse.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I boarded briefly at a place in NJ that did the deep litter method, with straw. It was well ventilated, I didn't notice any odor worse than any other place. They cleaned it out in the spring with a tractor somehow, I didn't stick around long enough to watch. No hoof problems at all. The concept, they said, was that the composting manure would keep the horse warm. Having heard of manure piles catching on fire, I had to question the possibility of the stall actually igniting, especially with the barn hands smoking right outside the aisle doors.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Goats can be prone th pneumonia which is probably one of the reasons it is reccomended for them in the winter...It does stay incredibly warm and dry...I will say it is a day of HARD work to clean it out in the spring..My goats are now 9 and 10 and have been incredibly healthy.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            One of my customers kept her two geldings in a shared space with deep litter bedding. It worked beautifully, as others have noted re: no smell, deep cushion and ease of maintenance. The best part in that situation, though, was the space (basically half of a 24x36 barn cordoned off with corral panels) was easily accessible to the front-end loader for stripping. I sure wouldn't have wanted to dig it out by hand.
                            Patience pays.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
                              You can also start with peatmoss for the base and then change to straw or shavings, but I never used shavings so can't speak to it.

                              I now keep my horses in/out so have changed a bit.
                              By spring shavings or sawdust have turned into stinking hard blocks of wood.
                              Did it once and never ever again. What a mess, what a job. Had to use a pickaxe.
                              You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                This is quite interesting. Thank you for all input.

                                There are some real afficiandos of this technique, who swear by various layering methods.

                                Must give this some thought.

                                Perhaps I can find some of Deltawave's "stable boys" when the mess needs to be cleaned out

                                Found a previous COTH thread with lots of details on how to do deep bedding.

                                http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/ar.../t-226732.html
                                Last edited by twelvegates; Nov. 19, 2011, 10:14 PM.
                                Nothing with horses is ever easy or cheap. And if it is, you're doing it wrong. They always rip out part of your soul when they leave. I guess that's how they find us later.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Equilibrium View Post
                                  Don't agree with it and don't do it. I guess to each his own but to me it's nasty. Deep litter with shavings = black beds with fresh sprinkled on top. I have very thick deep straw beds and keeping them properly is not an issue. And I don't understand why it would be to necessitate "deep litter". I'll admit when I first moved to Ireland and heard of and saw deep litter, I thought really? A bit lazy or what? But like I said to each his own. FYI, I have 5 and work too.
                                  When I did it it was because the floor of the building I used was concrete. The surface was uneven enough that mats would have been even more of a headache, plus we'd intended to remove that building and put in a real barn.

                                  The deep litter was great during the winter. The stalls were warm and dry and non-skid. I would dig out the pee spots a bit every couple of days to keep everything from getting too soggy, keep the manure picked, and just add fresh on top. Really and truly there was no smell, and it looked great. The horses certainly liked it, they were never locked in (run in stalls only) but I'd frequently find them snoozing inside.

                                  And yes, the spring clean-out was a b!tch and a half

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Interesting thread, especially for me, since I have been accidentally doing this without knowing there was a reason behind it, and that it could actually be a good thing..

                                    When I say accidentally, it's because my usual routine is to only pick the manure all week, and get to the wet spots on the weekends. Well, my schedule of late has been a nightmare, so instead of the weekly wet spot cleanout, I've been tossing more fine shavings into the stalls with the intention of getting to it as time allows (even though I know it will be tough work getting it out now).

                                    I have been amazed that there really is no pee smell in the barn.

                                    I do have two elderly arthritic horses, so I tend to bed deep for them anyway, but this method does have merit in that it does seem to be easier on their legs.
                                    There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      A friend does it, and it works. I keep my retired horse boarded there and the stalls are very fresh smelling and luxurious. However, come spring, it's HORRIBLE. As in a whole weekend of labor to strip a single stall.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by SomethingChronic View Post
                                        I went to England for a week and stayed at the Bartle's stable. They deep litter there, and it worked quite well. They did it over concrete in the back half of the stall (I want to say the stalls were 12x16 or 12x24), and the front half was matted and left bare.

                                        It was really odd but it worked, no pee smell, the poop stayed on top, and it was dry and comfortable. They just "skipped" the poop out 2x, and removed any pee on top that wasnt already pressed down underneath.
                                        That's what I do, but I dig all of the wet out every month or so. (Depending on how much wet there is to remove.)

                                        It works really well, the horses are comfy and it saves bedding.
                                        Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!

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