At what age is pine shavings bedding ok?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Kateryna, Feb 7, 2017.

  1. Kateryna

    Kateryna New Egg

    Feb 5, 2017
    My little chickies will be one week old tomorrow and, boy, they poop a lot. We are changing newspapers twice a day now. I wonder if they are old enough to switch to pine shaving bedding. Or will they eat it and get sick?
  2. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    Pine shavings are appropriate at any age IMO. You'll have more problems with newspaper, as it doesn't give them good traction and can lead to spraddle leg.
    3 people like this.
  3. MossyCreek

    MossyCreek Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 28, 2015
    N.E. Georgia
    I always use pine shaving bedding with my birds. From start to finish :) they have always done well on it. Much more absorbent than newspaper!
    2 people like this.
  4. coastingangel

    coastingangel Out Of The Brooder

    I have always used pine shavings on top of newspaper from when I take them out of the incubator, never had any issues.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop

    X2....that being said, if you are one afraid of them eating them (never had that issue in all the chicks I've raised) use paper towels instead of news paper, they offer traction
    1 person likes this.
  6. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 16, 2015
    Desert Hills, AZ
    Deal me in too - for pine shavings from day one. I wouldn't dream of using anything else. It's absorbent, absorbs odors, and provides excellent traction, all things chicks require. And then of course you can toss all the bedding in the compost pile to use in the garden - that's half the pleasure of owning chickens.
    1 person likes this.
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    I think the issue that folks report of chicks eating pine shavings is behavior based. First, like any baby, chicks explore the world with their mouths. I've seen them pick up shavings and carry them around. They even play keep away with them. Second, they will instinctively be looking for tidbits of food in the litter. Chickens were created to use those feet to scratch up their breakfast, lunch and supper. Third, they are hard wired to be looking to put something in their gizzards. If they don't have access to grit, they'll be looking to the shavings to fill that instinct.

    Initially, I like to sprinkle a bit of feed on paper towels, or a piece of cardboard right outside and some even inside their Mama heating pad cave during the first few days. In addition to that, I put out a traditional chick feeder full of starter crumble, and an other very small container of fermented feed. Just like babies like to play with their food, chicks seem to do the same. They will have a stomping party in their FF. Initially, they look like they've been in a food fight when they get going. It's super important to keep that FF on the thick side, and in a very small container so they don't get mired in it, or trampled into it. I give them enough time on paper towels to learn what the feed is, what it looks like, and where to find it. Then, I take away the paper towels, and leave them with the pine shavings which were put into the brooder first. I do not change out the shavings. Simply keep them dry, and add more shavings on top as needed. If starting a second brood of chicks, I would start them on the shavings left behind by the first brood. Studies show that subsequent broods of chicks grow faster than previous broods, simply b/c they colonize their guts faster.

    You can meet all of the three needs I mentioned in the first paragraph by giving them a plug of sod from your yard. I dig a chunk that is about the size of a small pie plate. You don't want the grass in that chunk to be super long. But, when it's left intact with the roots, they will snip off the right size bits to enjoy. Place the chunk upside down. It gives them: First grit. Opportunity to dig and search for morsels of food, including first greens and insects, worms, and seeds, First dust bath. Minerals. And infinite play opportunities. YES CHICKENS PLAY! That's one of the reasons why I stress giving your babies a nice big brooder, and giving them a natural brooding experience with the heating pad cave.

    An often overlooked issue when brooding chicks is the benefit of exposure to the natural bacteria, fungi, and other microscopic organisms in your soil. The soil they ingest will jump start their guts by giving them a healthy dose of beneficial organisms. And they will also be exposed to the natural cocci in your soil. Don't panic! Cocci are found in all soils, and are actually a natural flora in the chicken gut. It's only when they outnumber the good guys that they cause illness. In the first 2 weeks after hatch, the chick has her strongest immune system, which is received from her mother, much the same way that human babies receive immunity to various diseases from their mothers. So, use that window of opportunity wisely by giving your chicks every advantage to develop a strong immunity, which begins in the gut.
    3 people like this.
  8. FireflyTX

    FireflyTX Just Hatched

    Feb 8, 2017
    Do I need to give my baby chicks grit if I give them a piece of sod?
  9. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT

    As for pine shavings we use a layer of paper towels on top when chicks are fresh from incubator. They'll have it torn up in three days or so but think it aids in them walking around after first hatched.
  10. kcmz812

    kcmz812 Just Hatched

    Jan 4, 2017
    I use puppy pads. Clean up is a breeze! I am vigilant in changing in the brooder 2-3x per day. Now we only change 1x per day (at night) in her crate and pick the droppings up 2-3x per day. She is 6 weeks old. Our chicky is an indoor only birdy. A member of the family as s/he hatched from a Trader Joe's egg for my son's science fair project.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017

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