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Chicken Coop Bedding

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Chicken Coop Bedding

Post by Sonshine on Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:33 pm

There are lots of different approaches to chicken coop bedding, and I thought it might be fun to list some of the more interesting ones here:

Wood shavings work very well for chickens of all ages, including baby chicks. The bales of compressed softwood shavings sold for horse bedding are quite good. (I'm told that hardwood shavings, on the other hand, can have enough tannins in them to bother chickens, and some may have produce splinters that will cause foot injuries, but I haven't tried them. Cedar shavings are slightly toxic in a way that is insecticidal. I have my doubts about its suitability for baby chicks, though my research revealed no smoking gun.)
Straw is the old standby for hen bedding. I think straw is too coarse for day-old chicks. With hens, the litter can be kept from matting down by scattering some scratch feed onto the floor. The hens will spend all day fluffing up the bedding for you. This doesn't work with broilers, because they're not active enough. Though you should avoid using moldy straw, fears of aspergillosis ("brooder pneumonia") are usually exaggerated unless you use straw litter in a wet and under-ventilated brooder house, and under such conditions you're going to have plenty of other problems as well.
Hay is not as good as straw for bedding, and costs more.
Sand is an interesting bedding. It lets moisture drain away, not soaking it up the way other beddings do, so it leads to a dry coop. Unfortunately, this means that as the chicken manure dries out, it becomes very dusty, so don't try this except in a very well-ventilated coop!
Dirt or grass (that is, no litter at all, in floorless coops) works fine if the chickens don't have to walk through the manure all the time. In a house that's more or less filled with perches, for instance, the hens will spend little or no time at floor level. If rain is kept off the floor and there aren't too many chickens in the house, the accumulating manure dries quickly and is odorless. Oddly, this works better as time goes by, with a house that's been in one place for a month being drier than one that was moved into place a few days ago. For non-portable houses, use some kind of bedding.

Copyright by Robert Plamondon. Permission is granted for copying if it's attributed to me, and if it includes a link back to the original page on www.plamondon.com.

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He who cultivates his land will have plenty of food,
but from idle pursuits a man has his fill of poverty
Proverbs 28:19[b]
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Re: Chicken Coop Bedding

Post by PlainFolk on Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:54 am

I definitely get creative with my bedding. I've never used cedar as it can be harmful for the chicken's respiratory systems. I have used pine shavings but I'm certainly not going to keep my chickens in pine when it costs nearly $8 a package. My property has a ton of oak trees. Which means I have a ton of oak leaves on the ground at any given time. Looks like free bedding to me. I have simply raked them up and put them in there when I'm in a hurry but more often than not I'll run the mower over them with the bag attachment on and then dump it out in the coop. It's free, I have an almost never ending supply and my chickens have always liked it just fine. Works for me! :-)
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Re: Chicken Coop Bedding

Post by Sonshine on Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:59 am

We use old hay for our chickens, or pine straw. You have alot of oak trees and we have a lot of pine trees. Would love to have more oak for firewood purposes as well as acorns, but we only have one on our property. This year we'll be planting wheat and I figure the straw would be used for our chickens as well as goat bedding.

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Re: Chicken Coop Bedding

Post by RebelDigger on Sun May 06, 2012 12:57 pm

I use the pine horse bedding in bales from the coop. Here they are $5.00 a bale. I do the deep litter method so twice a year I clean out the chicken house and put down three bales of the bedding. Every once in a while I put down ag. lime and rake it in (while the chickens are out in the run) to keep things nice and dry and not smelling. Plus side is our red dirt needs lime and I compost the stuff and put it on the garden so it is all good. From time to time I will also add a half a bale of new bedding, mainly cause it makes me happy LOL. I like the fresh, clean smell and look of it. My chickens are spoiled rotten.

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Re: Chicken Coop Bedding

Post by Sonshine on Mon May 07, 2012 8:05 am

RebelDigger, we do deep litter too, especially in the winter. When we do spring cleaning it all goes in the garden. It's really made a difference to the quality of our soil.

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