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Discussion Starter #1
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.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
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 :)
 

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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.
 

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I basically do that with my gelding. I love it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It's not typical.

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?
 

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I actually use sawdust as my main bedding and put a layer of straw on top. Looks great and gives a wonderful place to lay down.

Since my horse is one of those starving types (in other words, overweight easy keeper) he eats some of his straw so it is not hard to clean around.

I do not have an odor problem. Actually the stall I bed normally (my mare is a total and complete pig) and strip all the time is more odorous than my deep bedded stall is.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
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 deep litter 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.
 

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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 dont 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.
 

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I do urine every day. I just do not dig to the bottom.
 

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I had researched it and decided to do this in my barn this winter. My horses are only stalled at night, they are on pasture during the day. It's a cold, drafty barn and I wanted to add as much heat and save as much on bedding as possible, so went for it. by the end I was honestly wishing I had never got started with it. My mare has had a chronic thrush problem since I got her, and although I was liming/bedding her stall twice as heavy as the others, her feet continued to get worse, and my pony whose feet were perfectly clean also got thrushy. After a month I stripped the two girls stalls out, and just left the boys deeply bedded, and by 6 weeks I couldn't handle it anymore. No matter how deep the shavings, when the boys would lay down the old stuff from underneath would leach through and give them wet, yucky spots on their haunches. Stripping the stalls after they are bedded that way makes it entirely not worth it, to me, the sheer amount of waste bedding hauled out is so time consuming, it's easier for me to pick stalls every day and strip once a week, which is what I have now gone back to with all four of mine. It just never did feel very clean. I understand the premise of deep litter, and I know I've used it successfully with chickens, but I wouldn't go that road with my own horses again.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks, Indy! That's the kind of thing I need to hear. A first hand experience!

I might run test for the next 2 months (until they start going out both day/night) in mare's stall. She's the messiest. I know it takes some management to get it started... hopefully it'll work. If not, we'll revert back to full cleanings 2x a day... and many trips to the manure pile!

Anybody else?
 

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My Beau ~ np. I know a lot of people have had success with it, and in premise I was all for it. Just, for my part, the end result wasn't satisfactory. I was using 3-4 times the amount of shavings as normal, and my horses still had gooey spots all the time.
 

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I really think it is a horse by horse thing. It would never work with my mare. No way. She is just too piggy. It works great with my gelding.
 

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It's great for horses who can walk in and out as they want to (I think it's called loose housing) :)
After some months it will start up heating, and then your horses have underfloor heating :D :D - I use the method in my stable :)
But if your horses can't go out as they want to, and then are "forced" to stay inside, it could become a little critical and harsh to the hoofs. :-(

You have to use enough straw everyday (in the end it is still cheaper anyway:)) and you have to be a little more attentive to your horses footties... sorry feet :p


As some might know, I'm danish and don't writes or understands English perfectly - so sorry if I said something you already knew :) - or something that just sounds silly!? :p
 

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I really think it is a horse by horse thing. It would never work with my mare. No way. She is just too piggy. It works great with my gelding.
I agree with this very much. My horses had probably never seen a stall in their life until I got them, and although my gelding does poo all in one corner (yay for the few GOOD stud retained habits) he pees everywhere, and the pee was the problem for me because even with diging out the obvious spots, and adding massive amounts of shavings, it would still soak through where he laid down, and I was worried what it would do to his skin (not to mention he is a predominantly white horse and it looked horrific) I hear you about your mare though, my big mare is disgusting too, she's what in the dog show world we would have called a "dirty b!tch" or a "kennel b!tch". She poos in her water bucket on a nightly basis, poos right smack in the middle of her hay, she's just gross. I guess she just never learned clean stall manners, maybe now it's too late. My pony mare isn't bad, she just churns it up a lot like others mentioned.

I think JanneT has a good point too, I wish I had open stalls with runs the horses could go in and out of, but it's not really applicable or practical in the style my barn is. Thankfully I only stall in the winter though, the rest of the year they are on pasture 24/7.
 

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We basically do this for our horses.
Started with a stripped stall (10' x 12'), added 4 bags of pellet bedding and a bag of chopped straw (just added the straw for the first time this week). Pick out piles at every feeding (twice a day) and urine soaked spots.
Both horses are walkers, so the pellets get ground up pretty quick. The manure gets broken up too.
I use a regular stall pick daily.
Every couple day, I use a pick that has more tines and screens out the smaller pieces.
With the horses inside everyday (we are covered by snow now too) I only need to add 1 bag of pellets per week.
I decided to add the straw because it is 1/2 the price of pellets. Just a little experiment to see if the stall stays as clean or cleaner.
I never leave it long enough to start "heating."
About once a month, I move the loose bedding to find the soaked, packed spots and dig them out.
I also pick hooves at least once a day. One horse had minor thrush, but with hoof cleaning and treatment, it has cleared up.
 

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Watch for mites and mold! I know many horses that have ended up with angry welts covering their entire bodies when this bedding method was used.

Not to mention, it even sounds disgusting. If you want more "heat" and cheaper bedding, switch to straw.
 
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