LItter for chickens

Woodman
By Woodman on Sun, Mar 9, 2014 - 10:43pm

What are you using for chicken bedding or litter?  Usually I spread hay in the coop, raking it a bit or spreading a new layer on top at needed.  It gets to be mess soon though especially in the winter since not much decomposing happens and the chickens spend more time inside.     Finally getting above freezing yesterday, I was able to pry up the frozen mat and place some new dry hay down.  I should probably try some finer material like shavings or composted leaves.     

7 Comments

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 2934
Wood shavings

Tom -

For the laying boxes, I use wood shavings. A big bag lasts me the better part of a year (assuming average population of 6-8 hens).

It's light & fluffy, smells nice (when fresh shavings are added), the chickens like to lay in it, and eggs rarely get broken.

When it's time to replace (about 1x month), I just use a garden trowel to scoop out the soiled shavings onto the ground, or toss them into the composter (adds nitrogen). They spread and break down very quickly.

The rest of the coop has a screen floor, so droppings, etc just pass through that. Though enough stays in and builds up so that I do need to shovel things out about once every month, as well. It doesn't freeze out here in northern CA, so a screen bottom in winter may not work for those like you in colder winter climes.

 

Robert McCafferty's picture
Robert McCafferty
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: May 29 2012
Posts: 3
Chicken's in winter

Good morning guys, I just read you blog piece on dealing with your chicken bedding in the winter.  We use hay and a few cedar chips in combination.  I take visit them each morning to give them some cut up lettuce and check their coop.  I remove any droppings with a slatted scoop ( designed for cat litter) and place them in a plastic bucket with a top.  I empty the bucket as needed, perhaps once or twice a month.  I add fresh hay as needed to give them a good deep bed as protection against the cold and keep a small light burning continually for a bit of warmth.  We choose New Hampshire Reds as a breed which are quite winter hardy and they have lived happily for the past year, producing approx. three eggs per day.  That is nice production from four chickens.  I should mention that we also give them a can of inexpensive cat food daily when it is really cold.

Good luck. 

Leolog's picture
Leolog
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 14 2014
Posts: 3
Litter for hens

I use exclusively straw. The hens may choke on hay, it usually contains large seeds that the hens can find, and is an  excellent addition to any compost. I have 170 hens right now, and am ordering an additional 100 this spring and 100 this fall. Compost is used in a very large garden or for my fruit trees.

thebrewer's picture
thebrewer
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 7 2012
Posts: 110
Pine Shavings

I use pine shavings and has worked out pretty well. Cost effective and I think absorbs better. I have one rooster and 15 hens in an 8' x 12' coop. I go about 2" deep and can go 4-5 days between cleanings. I think it's also better/easier for composting than hay.

My two cents...

thebrewer's picture
thebrewer
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 7 2012
Posts: 110
Ceder not good
Robert McCafferty wrote:

Good morning guys, I just read you blog piece on dealing with your chicken bedding in the winter.  We use hay and a few cedar chips in combination.  I take visit them each morning to give them some cut up lettuce and check their coop.  I remove any droppings with a slatted scoop ( designed for cat litter) and place them in a plastic bucket with a top.  I empty the bucket as needed, perhaps once or twice a month.  I add fresh hay as needed to give them a good deep bed as protection against the cold and keep a small light burning continually for a bit of warmth.  We choose New Hampshire Reds as a breed which are quite winter hardy and they have lived happily for the past year, producing approx. three eggs per day.  That is nice production from four chickens.  I should mention that we also give them a can of inexpensive cat food daily when it is really cold.

Good luck. 

I'm not an expert and I'm not sure the reason why but it's my understanding that cedar is bad for chickens. I never looked into why but that's what the hatchery told me when I got my first batch. I use exclusively pine shavings; very cost effective and easy to compost.

I see your post is a few months old, have you had any issues with the cedar?

mehitibel's picture
mehitibel
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 22 2012
Posts: 2
cedar shavings

When one of our chickens died our vet thought it might be due to respiratory problems from the cedar shavings.  We now use some cedar mixed with our usual pine shavings.

mehitibel's picture
mehitibel
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 22 2012
Posts: 2
cedar shavings

When one of our chickens died our vet thought it might be due to respiratory problems from the cedar shavings.  We now use some cedar mixed with our usual pine shavings.

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