Does anyone here bed stalls using the deep litter method? If you do, tell me everything you know about it!
I'm thinking of switching to that way of bedding for the remainder of this winter. We still have about 2' of snow on the ground with a THICK layer of ice. I haven't been able to get to our manure pile for 3 weeks, so we've been bagging the manure and taking it to the dump when we clean stalls. It's a pain and I know you throw less out with the deep litter.
My mare is a stall walker and grinds everything up nicely each night. Seems like my gelding pees gallons and gallons and gallons each night. And my filly, while not a walker, can still manage to trot a few steps, so everything is grinded up in her's too. Plus she's obnoxious and tips the muck bucket while I'm cleaning.
So, with all that said, I'm thinking it's the best solution for now.
It's where you only pick out the manure and obvious wet spots. Then you keep adding fresh bedding to the top. Eventually it will build up a bit and also be "warm". Then you totally strip it (some people say 2-3x a year, others say every month... kind of what works for you and your horses). If done correctly it shouldn't smell or be damp.
Mine would probably go about 2 months before it's stripped. I'm just looking for some personal experiences with it :)
I do that for the BO's mini donkeys and for Rosie's stall that is open for her to go outside. I pick out the barn twice a day. Rosie is a lot like your mare with the walking everything around. I use shavings. We have a huge pile in the back of the barn. I'll take 6 or 7 wheel barrow loads into each stall and bank it up against the walls...much easier to cover the spots where you pick. Then I'll take 1 more load in to spread on the floor. For the donkeys, it works fine. For Rosie, I feel like I'm stripping it every day just to get the wet and the poo out. (I do wish she'd go outside to do that) When I'm done picking the stall out, I rake in from the banks I made against the walls to cover where I've picked.
I usually strip and rebed when I've used pretty much everything that I had banked against the walls. I will tell you this though. In the donkey's stall, I end up re-banking it everytime I go in. He keeps his 7 month old baby in with it's mother. With all the running around and being nosey, the baby usually succeeds in running or digging all of the banks into the middle of the stall.
This is how the BO used to do in the show barn I worked in. It really doesn't smell if you do it right.
Normally you pick out every little manure ball, every wet spot. Deep littering you pick up the piles of manure and the urine spots you can see. The rest you leave, you don't turn everything over, don't dig around, nothing. Just add fresh bedding to the top. The underlayers almost start to compost, generating heat, which make these beds great for older horses, too.
I'm still on the fence about trying it... Anyone else bed this way? Any tips?
My bad, just researched some more... yoou don't take any urine out.
Here's a poster from another bb's experience with deep litter:
Actually, no there isn't any smell as long as it's bedded deep enough and gets compacted.
I've never done deeplitter bedding with shavings, only with sawdust. Back when we used this we had stalls made specifically for this method, the aisle was a foot higer than the floors of the stalls. By the time you got a deep bed going, the floor of the stall was a step up from the aisle.
In 10x12 stalls we started with fresh bare floors and about 10 large wheelbarrows full of new sawdust, about 1 foot deep.
Then manure was removed daily, with sawdust the urine wasn't in puddles but there would be a small pin-hole sized spot where the urine hit the top of the bedding. It would then filter down through the foot of bedding to the bottom. Over time it spreads along the ground underneath the bedding, but the top many inches never get more than a tiny pee spot where the urine hit the bedding. Over time the foot of new bedding has been packed down to less than a foot thick, new sawdust was added. This too gets packed over time. About a month or so into a new bed...you'd have a thick cushiony pack of at least 16" deep, some up to 20" deep.
The top of the bedding pack was always dry, fresh smelling and new looking. Even if you dug down into it a good 5" deep it would be packed but dry packed bedding. Never even a little bit damp, not a single scent of ammonia.
However...in spring the stalls got stripped...and once that bottom 6" of so of urine packed sawdust was broken into the fumes are released and your eyes water. We did two new beddings on average per year...early spring and mid-fall.
The horses loved it...we didn't have any cases of respiratory issues with the horses ever and even if you had to close up the barn in blizzard conditions you could walk into the barn and smell fresh sawdust and some newly dropped manure, hay and horses. It never stank of pee at all. Even with your face in the bedding.
The woman who I board with did that. It was disgusting when we went to strip the stalls there was like 2-3 inches of solid "stuff" at the bottom. I had to scrape the heck out of the stalls. I ended up just using a snow shovel to get it out. If you don't clean out the urine its going to spell like amonia, and its pretty hard on a horses hoof, chemically. It might be ok for a horse who has free access to the pasture but I would not do that for horses who are stuck in their stalls for a certain amount of time each day.