And the Benefits of Using the Deep Bedding Method for Your Sheep Shed
If you are hoping to raise a small flock of Babydoll Sheep, the Deep Bedding Method may be perfect for your sheep shed management plan!
I have used this method for several years and it works well for us.
No matter what, you are going to have to shovel manure. There is no way around it.
But this way allows me to only deep clean our sheep shed twice a year. It’s a lower cost option, simple to execute and twice a year, I get fabulous manure as fertilizer for our garden!
In this post, I will break down the following:
- What is the Deep Bedding Method
- What type of situation is best for this method
- How to manage your bedding with this method
- My favorite things to use for this method
What is the Deep Bedding Method? (Or, Deep Litter Method)
The deep bedding method is a way to help insulate the cold ground in your barn or shed with bedding during the winter months.
Instead of cleaning out the flooring every week as some do, you simply layer more dry bedding on top of the floor. You do this again and again creating a sort of ‘lasagna’ of manure and bedding. (I know, gross analogy, but stick with me.)
These layers create heat keeping your animals dry and warm.
We often forget that it is not just the air and wind that is cold in winter, but also the ground. Especially for structures with dirt floors, especially during early lambing season, this method has helped keep our sheep warm—even in below zero temperatures.
What is The Best Situation for This Method
To me, and from my experience, this method is best if you have the following set-up:
- A shed instead of a barn. Meaning, you have three-sided structure that has good ventilation and the ground as the dirt floor. I have heard other Babydoll Sheep shepherd friends who have large barns say that sometimes this method does not work for them because their flooring is not meant to handle all the layers of bedding. And, especially in colder climates, they keep the barn closed in with not much ventilation. Without ventilation, you get anaerobic decomposition with the manure. Meaning, it will be super stinky.
- Your temperature is not consistently below freezing. Again, if you live in colder climates where you need to close up your barn, this may not be the best option for you. I have friends who have made it work, so this is just something to consider.
- You have a smaller flock and you have access to good bedding. This is a cost-effective option for me, because we (as in my husband and his dad) bale our own hay. We have access to good bedding. So, sprinkling fresh bedding every week or so does not hurt our pockets. If you have a very large flock and maybe you don’t get to pale your pasture, this could get costly.
How to Do this Method for your Sheep Shed
The way I do it, is once a week, I’ll walk around the sheep shed taking note of how the bedding is looking.
If it looks fairly dry, I’ll just sprinkle fresh, dry hay bedding in any more soiled spots or anyplace the rain may have seeped in.
If it looks very wet and soiled, the entire space gets a full layer of hay bedding.
And once a month, I will use First Saturday Lime. This is powered lime that has a multitude of uses on a farm, but I use it the most in our sheep shed.
Then, early spring and early fall, I shovel everything out to the ground and add it to my garden beds!
Using First Saturday Lime for the Deep Bedding Method in Your Sheep Shed
I have been using First Saturday Lime for years, all over our property for various uses. However, I consistently use it the most in the sheep shed.
It is a natural pesticide. And if you’re familiar with how easily sheep can get worms and parasites, you know that having a clean shed is a very important part to keep them at bay.
Once a month, I will clear the sheep out of the shed and sprinkle a generous amount of the lime powder all over the floor taking special attention to more soiled spaces and the perimeter.
The worms are found in the sheep manure, so I want to try to eradicate any potential worm breeding grounds by sprinkling the lime on manure spots.
Once the lime settles, then I heap on the new bedding.
I can tell my sheep love it when I do this once a month. They let me know by rolling around in and tossing the hay around—much like a kid who wants to jump on a freshly-made bed!
If you want to try First Saturday Lime, I do have an affiliate code for 20% off.
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Photographs by Leah Payne