Deep compost bedding for chickens is so far one of the most efficient ways to keep a flock warm and comfortable over cold winters. For the sake of ease I will refer to “deep compost bedding” as DCB.
We started DCB in our coop several winters ago after having a heck of a time controlling moisture and cold temperatures which led to frostbite on some combs and waddles (which is painful but curable) Frost bite happens when exposed flesh becomes too damp and the frost sets in. Roosters often suffer the worst with their big floppy combs and giant waddles.
I switched to using pine shaving after some deep research on straw. The pine shavings draw moisture and stop the growth of all sorts of nary things.
DCB how to get started. You’re gonna need to pull any straw out of the coop. Straw holds moisture and can mildew creating a baddddd situation for your flock.
Pine flake bedding, is your best option but wood shavings from a saw mill are fine as long as there is NO cedar shavings. Cedar oil is VERY toxic to chickens 🐓.
Clay based cat litter: Clay only litter will draw moisture and won’t grow mold.
PooKashi: a Probiotic additive you out directly on the bedding. It eats harmful bacteria and ammonia.
A pitch Fork: You can never underestimate the uses of a strong metal tine farm fork.