Raising Chickens In Your Backyard: A No-Fluff Guide To Chicken Breeds, Coops, Runs, Tractors And More
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I wrote this post before doing thorough research on pine shavings toxicity. I considered deleting the post below as I no longer condone using pine shavings in the chicken coop, but I know a lot of people are going to use them anyway. There are so many different types of wood shavings out there. Why is there so much attention on pine?
You can use some other types of wood shavings in your coop too, such as aspen shavings a soft hardwood. These shavings, however, tend to be much more expensive. Some treated woods may be toxic for chickens. Cedar contains Plicatic acid, which can cause asthma and respiratory illness in your chickens. Whether it be pine, aspen, or anything else, sawdust is too fine grained for the chicken coop. It causes too much dust for the coop, and it may cause serious respiratory problems in your chickens.
Below is a list of the many reasons that pine shavings can make a good bedding for the coop.
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Have insulating properties. Compared to most other bedding types, pine shavings are dry and absorbent, which is incredibly important for coop bedding. Absorbency is one of the most important characteristics you want in chicken coop bedding. The more absorbent a bedding material is, the less smelly your coop will be, and the longer you can go without changing bedding.
They tend to stay drier than straw, but they are considerably more moisture-rich than sand. When you have sand in your coop, the poop and sand seem to dry out very quickly. Let me explain why. When you use pine shavings or any other organic bedding in your coop, the poop takes a while to dry out, and your chickens inevitably step in it.
They carry it around with them on their feet, sometimes a lot of it. They also soil their nesting boxes and eggs with these poopy feet. And your chickens will get filthy in another way. They will dust bathe in their pine shaving bedding. So, yeah, they get covered in whatever is in the bedding. In the case of pine shavings and other organic bedding, this includes wet poop. Again, pine shavings are a more absorbent bedding type than most other organic materials, which means this problem is only compounded in these other materials.
When you put fresh pine shavings in your coop, your coop has a wonderful feel to it. The pine shavings are dry, soft, and fresh.
Your chickens will be super excited when you first put the shavings in. They will love walking around the shavings, scratching in them, and even laying down in them. Whenever I empty a coop and fill it with new shavings, my chickens will even lay eggs in the shavings. The freshness of pine shavings does wear off pretty quickly, usually within a few days, unless you have a very large coop with very few chickens soiling the bedding. Some people with smaller coops will choose to change their pine shavings bedding once or twice a week to retain the freshness.
Their chickens are undoubtedly grateful! Many chicken keepers, particularly homesteaders and those living in rural areas, will be interested in using the deep litter method. In this method, you typically will only change the bedding in your coop once or twice a year. When the bedding starts to get moist or stinky, you simply add more bedding to it and mix it in, rather than replacing the old bedding.
People use this method because a it keeps their coops warmer in the winter heat is released during the bacterial breakdown of the bedding and b the bedding can later be used as a rich compost for the garden. Pine shavings are one of the best bedding types you can use for the deep litter method. Straw is also an excellent option. For more on straw, see my article, Using Straw in the Chicken Coop. Pine shavings compost beautifully.
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Many chicken keepers use the finished product on their gardens. Pine shavings do provide some coop insulation, and may help keep your coop slightly warmer in the winter.
Depending on where you live, pine shavings may be the cheapest bedding material you can find other than free, less absorbent materials like dried leaves and dry, untreated grass clippings. Pine Shavings can be found in almost every farm supply store. You can also buy them on Amazon, but as of the time of this writing, they are more expensive.
Click here to check their current price.
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Typically, you buy pine shavings in a plastic bag. You can get very large bags at your local farm store, or you can buy small bags online, like these pine shavings on Amazon. In this regard, pine shavings are much more convenient than straw, in which you may need a separate enclosed, well ventilated shed or facility for storage. Unlike sand, pine shavings are very lightweight, and filling your coop with them is very easy.
Straw is also lightweight initially, but it gets really clumped up and heavy with manure after being in the coop. Because of this, soiled straw can be heavy to move out of the coop. Pine shavings, on the other hand, stay fairly lightweight, even when soiled, so emptying your coop is much easier. Some people also like to use a rake to rake out the soiled pine shavings, rather than replace all the bedding every time.
An even easier approach is to use a pitchfork with fine tines, like this fine tine pitchfork on Amazon, to easily scoop out the soiled pieces. This will greatly extend how long you can keep your bedding in the coop.
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Pine shavings are:. Compliments to the Chicken Chick for opening my eyes to this. They need litter. Chickens need roosting bars for sleep, not bedding. The material on the floor of the chicken coop, then, is not for bedding purposes at all, but for waste management purposes. So what makes good litter? Good litter is material that accomplishes these purposes:. Pine shavings are a very mediocre source of litter. Pine shavings do absorb moisture, although not as well as sand. They neutralize odor a little bit, partly because they absorb moisture, but also partly because the pine smell is so strong.
see url Pine shavings are mediocre at drying out droppings, and they utterly fail at not breaking down. Pine shavings are organic, so they are definitely going to break down — and this is why you are able to compost them. This may be the worst quality of pine shavings, and this is why, after trying pine shavings for a whole year in my coops, I vowed to find a better option for my chickens.