Inoculated Deep Litter System for Cold Climates

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2024: $29,010.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2027
Grant Recipient: Klein Family LLC
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Richard Klein
Klein Family LLC


  • Animals: goats, sheep


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, manure management
  • Farm Business Management: feasibility study
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health

    Proposal summary:

    Farms of all scales struggle with
    livestock housing that meets the big goals of
    regenerative/sustainable agriculture: 

    • Safety and Comfort for the
    • Providing a Positive Impact on
      the Environment, 
    • Safe and Easy to Use for the
      Farmer, and 
    • Scalability.

    The Inoculated Deep Litter System
    (IDLS) is an innovative system that checks all four boxes. IDLS
    is a bedding and housing solution which, once constructed, never
    requires the removal of bedding/waste while providing a
    comfortable and safe space for livestock. It achieves this by
    using a multi-layered system with a foundation of inoculated
    biochar, followed by logs, sawdust and a layer of loose bedding
    which is added to as needed.

    While IDLS is used widely
    throughout the tropics, little to no research has been done in
    cold-climate agriculture. Working with engineers from Hawaii and
    New England, we are adapting the system to our climate where
    we’ll test the design with small ruminants (goats and

    We believe that this technology
    can substantially improve animal welfare and reduce farmer labor
    while also acting as a carbon sink, eliminating supplementary
    heating needs, and significantly reducing ammonia

    This will be a three year project
    so that we can evaluate the long-term impact on the animals,
    farmers, and environment. We’ll write a paper with our findings
    along with Plans for Constructing Cold Climate IDLS Housing and
    provide video content throughout the project.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    We plan to develop and test a
    cold-weather Inoculated Deep Litter System for small ruminants
    which can be deployed at farm-scale.

    We also hope to demonstrate that
    the claims of IDLS (i.e. no bedding removal, little-to-no aroma,
    animal health benefits, reduced ammonia production, and complete
    containment/composting of waste) hold true for cold

    Through rigorous bookkeeping, we
    will also present our findings on the cost-effectiveness of this
    system at small-scale so fellow farmers and researchers can make
    an educated decision on deployment.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.