Chicken coop bedding

wippitDecember 23, 2007

I'm looking for optiosn for bedding for a chicken coop. We acquired a flock with the purchase of our house last June. 52 of 'em. Doesn't have an outdoor run, that's planned for this spring (I hope). The previous owner was using wood shavings, but that's $25-$30 per muck out. We tried straw, that was a downright disaster. I had considered trying sawdusts, but figured I'd get some experienced opinions before using the stuff - or if there's an alternative I haven't considered.

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laturcotte1

My feeling, but I only have geese, pine shaving are great, dry easy to clean, great for compost. Saw dust is to dusty can cause respiratory problems, straw or hay is a disaster, except for nesting.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 10:27AM
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oberhasli1

I do what is called "deep littering" in my coop using wood shavings. I only clean my coop once a year, but I also only have 10 chickens. But, the deep littering would probably work given the area you live in. Try googling "deep litter method" and there are sites to give you the pros and cons. Basically it is just to put 4 or 5 inches of bedding down and let the chickens turn it over themselves by scratching around. The manure provides some extra heat as well. I usually sprinkle corn scratch in the coop every morning and the chickens turn over the bedding everyday. It never smells and I add new shavings on top every once in a while, but not very often. It works for me.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 2:28PM
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beeliz(2)

I do the same method as above..I do the deep litter thing too and it works great for me as well. I presently only have 3 hens,but will get more in the spring.So my cleanup will be a cinch this spring!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 2:54PM
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beeliz(2)

I do the same method as above..I do the deep litter thing too and it works great for me as well. I presently only have 3 hens,but will get more in the spring.So my cleanup will be a cinch this spring!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 4:36PM
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wippit

Deep litter wouldn't quite work. In the summer, what you say they pretty much do. I last mucked it out in Octobeer. But when winter sets in, it all freezes into hard-packed "mud" - even though it's not mud. To make matters worse... it went significatnly above freezing overnight. Now it's thick slimy "mud".

I'
m rather new to the whole livestock thing - they came with the house, and my wife wanted them. Personally, I think the area they are in is too small for their numbers - and with the demand for fresh eggs here, I wanted to try to increase the flock somewhat. Having the outdoor run is sure to help, but we're still looking at 4-6 huge bags of shavings every time I clean it out - given how bad the place can get, I have to do it at least 3 times a year.

gets me a lot of manure for the gardens, though.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 11:50AM
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Miss_Kitty(6a KY)

I use cedar sawdust, though I have only a few chickens and about a dozen ducks, it works well for me. I also go in there and stir it up with a cultivator once in a while.

I've used fallen leaves with ducks, they seemed to like that quite a bit. Wood chips from the utility company worked pretty well too.

We used straw last year when it got really cold. The rats tunneled under it and we had a huge colony of rats by spring. yuck!

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 4:38PM
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zootjs(zone 5 MA)

The rule of thumb is an absolute minimum of 10 square feet of coop space per chicken if they are enclosed all the time, and 4 square feet per chicken if they have an outside run.

If you have 52 confined chickens, your coop area should be 520 square feet. Say, walls 23 feet long (small barn).

If the litter is wet, add more on top. Topping it off is easier and requires less litter than starting from the ground up. That said, if you're only spending $30 on litter after a complete muck out, your space is indeed likely much too small. Aim for 4 inches deep, to start.

--Jonathan

P.S. Source: Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow

    Bookmark   December 26, 2007 at 8:20AM
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marbles_n_the_garden(DownEast Maine, Zone 5)

We buy our shavings from a local saw mill. You shovel them yourself, and they are only $1 per bag--we use the huge carpenter clean-up bags (larger than lawn & leaf). When I was in another town, it was $5 for a pick-up truck load, but you had to shovel yourself. Well worth it for the price. See if there is a small mill in the surrounding area.
Robin

    Bookmark   December 26, 2007 at 11:32AM
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fancifowl(5Pa)

Sounds like you have an air exchange problem? The reason the litter is so wet is probably due to not enuff ventilation, unless they are just over crowded. Daily stirring of the litter can help. I only clean out evey couple years but I never keep too many fowl per sq. ft. Pine shavings seems to be the preferred litter of most people and I have good results mixing in shredded nesw print & shredded DRY leaves. I have used hay and straw with good resultes if shredded but not in unshredded form, it mats and stays damp.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2007 at 6:07PM
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wippit

Overcrowding will be the issue. I *might* have 23' in length... need to measure it when the snow lets up a bit. But I definitely don't have 23' in width... 10' if I'm lucky. So, yet another unhappy surprise from the former owner.

There's an old stable on the property which would be more than large enough... roof came off it a few years back, though, need to find the money to replace it.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 11:29AM
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teacher_mom2(7)

I am thinking about getting about 3 chickens and just read a terrific book - Keep Chickens by Barbara kilarski. I'm sure there are other, even more informative books, out there! Good luck with your chikunz! :)

    Bookmark   December 29, 2007 at 7:25PM
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posy_pet(z6Mo.)

I use shredded leaves(deep litter) and have only had to clean it out once a year.Have a dropping pit under the roosts,only have 12 chickens,small house but it stays dry.Posy_Pet

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 10:17PM
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roostersgirl

posey, could you tell me more about the dropping pit, we are thinking about a dropping screen under the roosts. thanks sandra

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 11:28PM
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shelley_t(z5 IL)

I've read of someone using cat litter... which I don't want because I'd like to compost the waste, but it got me wondering: since the environmentally friendly Felinepine came out, I wondered if I could use pine bark mulch. I already get it for my garden beds and I think I'd throw it right into the beds. My son has snakes and uses it in the same way. They come in a smaller grade of dime size pieces that I think might work nicely.... Maybe I'd have to use the straw in the nest boxes though.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 10:27AM
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msbarbara225_yahoo_com

I've heard pine shaving are too acidic for vegetable gardens? And what about dried grass clippings? would they work? Thanks

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 7:30PM
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mizunbiogas_ymail_com

Chicken coop bedding material make good fuel for boiler. We design and supply mini boilers + Steam turbine Generators ( 1KW to 50KW). But these are not for backyard coops with 3-10 birds.

You are having a professional coop, then you clear the bedding daily. Burn it in boiler to produce steam. The steam is used to drive the turbine to generate electricity. the steam exhaust from turbine is diverted to radiators in winter to heat the space and then return to boiler to produce steam.

Power generation capacity depends on the bedding material available on daily basis.

So you get power, heat the house and also get hot water from the coop bedding material which anyway you will burn to ash. Why not burn it to get power? Contact mizunbiogas@ymail.com to know more.
Best wishes,
Mo

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 7:51AM
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