Bedding advice needed - chicks eating pine shavings

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by GrFChickens, Apr 23, 2016.

  1. GrFChickens

    GrFChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi all!

    I need some advice on bedding.

    We have one brooder with two month-old Buff Opringtons and one brooder with 3 two-week old RIRs.

    We started out with paper towels over pine shavings and that seemed to work great at first, but the chicks just love to peck, peck, peck, as they should, and they are actually eating the shavings that escape from beneath the paper towels.

    When I take the paper towels up, they kick the shavings around everywhere, and some get into the food dish (even though I've elevated it on a big wooded platform along with the waterer) and they eat those.

    I've played around back and forth with paper towels vs. no paper towels. I'm learning that the chicks like contrast and anything that contrasts to the floor they will eat!!

    I can't seem to win either way! :( I'm concerned they aren't getting enough food since they're filling up on shavings. We will be using deep litter in the coop with pine shavings in a few weeks so I'm concerned they won't eat their food there either.

    My only thought was to create a gutter-system to feed the chicks - to elevate the food so that the pine shavings wouldn't get in there. I know their instinct is to scratch and peck and I don't want to hinder that, either.

    Any other thoughts??

    Thanks so much! :)
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    Mine always try to eat shavings for the first week, after that I don't notice it anymore, I keep paper towels down for the first week than remove them. Is your shavings too fine? They kick and dig in it and you just need to occasionally remove the shavings off their feed. If they aren't eating the feed than there's something wrong with it. I elevate my feeder by putting it on some bricks, the taller the chicks the higher you can raise it, chest height is good.
     
  3. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chicks will dust bathe in the shavings. And while one is dust bathing, she is surrounded by 2-3 other chicks who diligently eat all the shaving bits off of her each time she "fluffs". Sigh. I just make sure to sprinkle a little chick grit in with their food so everything gets ground up... :rolleyes:
     
  4. turboscooby07

    turboscooby07 Out Of The Brooder

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    Straw... plain cheap straw, why does nobody use straw anymore. It insulates like crazy, easy to remove and put in the garden. Chickens dont eat it. They pile it up and move it around for a nice nest. Straw is easy to remove from a waterer and feeder. Straw was used for the other 10000 years people kept chickens, why not now.50 lbs of straw goes miles if you keep it dry. I can get a 50lb straw bale here for 3 bucks... can you tell I like straw...
     
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  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    Straw is hollow and can harbor mites, that's why straw isn't used as much, as well as being harder to find that shavings.
     
  6. turboscooby07

    turboscooby07 Out Of The Brooder

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    DE and cleaning the coop, ive never (knock on wood) had mites. Anywhere that sell chicken food has straw
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016
  7. realsis

    realsis Crazy for Silkies

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    I'm thinking that folks don't use the straw like they used to because of the microscopic mold and spores that grow in the straw that have the ability to really make the chicks sick and possibility worse. We can't see the spores to know if the straw is carrying them or not. Also with the chicks feces feeding the spores it could have the potential to get really bad. And we wouldn't even be able to see it to know it's happening. I think that might be why people got away from using it.
     
  8. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I use/used it outside in the kennels. Definitely not as absorbant as the pine shavings in terms of droppings, but worse when it came to rain. Just mucked out the pen yesterday and replaced with shavings. The other pen still has straw currently. Here, I can actually get a bale of shavings for cheaper than a bale of straw.
     
  9. turboscooby07

    turboscooby07 Out Of The Brooder

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    We also use prairie hay. We get 1500lb round bales for 25-35 dollars. The chickens do eat that stuff though, and its full of seeds so it does not go in the garden. Im not sure that eating the pine shavings is so bad as long as they dont choke on them.
     
  10. cscigu

    cscigu Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Living on a farm, we have hay available most of the time, but I prefer straw. I've wondered if there were any drawbacks I was unaware of, I'll have to research the mite thing. Don't know that I've ever had a problem with it. The local feed store sells hay and straw, the straw always leaves a huge mess in their storage area, so the owner gladly lets me rake up all I want. I stuff it in old coffee "gunny" sacks. I use it everywhere. Chicken coop, muddy patches, etc.

    For me, straw is easier to rake out, has better drying ability than hay, doesn't mold and mat up, and is much easier to shovel up to get out of the coop. Not to mention it provides a better mulch. I did buy a couple sacks of the wood shavings over the winter, and have to admit it is good stuff, and probably the easiest clean out. Still, I will go with the free straw first. It mostly wheat or oat straw around here, and the chickens love to scratch it.

    At any rate, you might think of keeping your eyes open for a feed store that stocks hay and straw. If you live in a big city, there probably is still something close that caters to farmers or horse people. Straw bales bust very easy, leaving lots behind to be cleaned up. Not hard work at all.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016

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