Bedding too dry

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by max13077, May 31, 2008.

  1. max13077

    max13077 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I’ve been having issues with dust in the coop from the pine shavings I use being too dry. I keep watering them down and mixing it in. It lasts about a day or so, and they dry out. I guess my girls don’t poop enough or something. I was wondering if the floor absorbs the water? It’s ¾ treated plywood. Perhaps putting down some vinyl tile or something would make a difference? Thoughts?
     
  2. Cassandra

    Cassandra Ranger Rick

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    That sounds kind of odd that you water pine shavings in a coop and it dries out over night.

    How thick is it and what kind of area does it cover? How ventilated is the coop? Is it really dry where you are? How long have you been doing this?

    Cassandra
     
  3. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

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    I have a couple of thoughts on this -

    1) It's not that your shavings are too dry - they are supposed to be. It's that chickens create a lot of dust themselves (most of it is actually dried poo) and that's what you are seeing. That is normal - it drives me nuts to have 1/4 inch of dust everywhere in my coop. When I clean I literally wear a dust mask to prevent inhaling it.

    2) If it really is related to your shavings (never heard of that) and you really feel the need to add water then I would think that putting a layer of vinyl underneath would help. I just don't have enough experience to know if this is really an issue. I do know that you want your bedding very dry ... so adding water seems 'wrong' to me. But, I may be wrong...
     
  4. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

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    Adding water to the shavings will cause alot more health issues than just dealing with the dust, keeping bedding as dry as possible will be much better for the chickens.
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    I suspect the real problem is simply that you have a very dusty bunch o' shavings. It certainly does happen. You may need to shop around. Unfortunately you cannot entirely depend on a particular brand name either, since (considering the nature of how shavings are produced) there just IS variation in quality. But definitely some brands are dustier than others.

    Although what rooster-red says is true in a perfect world, I will tell you that when you get a dusty delivery of shavings at a horse barn, it is common practice to dampen them down *until better shavings can be obtained*, since at least for horses the effects of dusty stalls on the lungs are much worse than the offchance that mold may grow. Softwood shavings really do not mold easily at all, btw. And this time of year you should be able to have plenty o' ventilation so that excessive humidity is not going to be a problem. So personally I would do as you are, but try real hard to find better shavings.

    Good luck,

    Pat
     
  6. max13077

    max13077 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks everybody for the input. The dust isn’t really the issue I care the most about. Yeah it’s a pain, however I can put up with it. The part I was concerned about was getting the litter to ferment properly. In “Storey’s guide to raising chickens” by Gail Damerow it states that properly fermenting litter gives off vitamin b12 and keeps the chickens warmer in the winter due to the fermentation process giving off heat. But if everybody thinks it’s better to have dry litter, so be it. I won’t be as concerned about it.

    As far as watering it down, I wasn’t trying to control the dust as much as I was trying to get it to the right moisture level. No dust was just a welcome side effect. Damerow says that the litter should stay clumped together in your hand when squeeze it without any water coming out of it. Mine is super dry and just falls apart. That was really what I was trying to change. But if I’m actually endangering my girls by doing that I would certainly stop. I love my chickies.

    Cassandra mentioned ventilation. My coop isn’t a big structure. It’s 8’ by 12’ by 8’ front and 6’ in the back. I wish I’d lowered the roof but what’s done is done. For windows I have three plus the chicken door. I haven’t had the windows open that much cause it’s been cool. Plus I live on a windy hilltop. So any little gaps in construction are magnified. I haven’t got around to caulking them. I figure until winter they’re actually a good thing.

    Here are some pics I went out and took.

    Coop and the pen
    [​IMG]

    Coopy poo!
    [​IMG]

    Inside
    [​IMG]

    Squeeze
    [​IMG]

    And fall apart
    [​IMG]

    Inside view of the door
    [​IMG]
     
  7. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

    If your litter is too wet it will cause your plywood floor to rot. Also if it is too wet the conditions will be good for cocci.
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:You are not going to get much composting at all if you're on a plywood floor (although mixing a few shovelsful of garden soil into the litter will help a bit with that if you really really want). And you almost certainly do not need to worry about B12, as it is added to all commercial rations these days (it was only an issue back before feed companies knew to do that).

    Truly, there is an AWFUL lot of stuff that all goes under the umbrella term of 'deep litter' and much of it is only going to occur to a meaningful degree if you are on an earthen floor. Given that you're on plywood, personally I would suggest not worrying about any benefits other than labor-saving-ness [​IMG]

    Damerow says that the litter should stay clumped together in your hand when squeeze it without any water coming out of it. Mine is super dry and just falls apart.

    This is the large-scale poultry-raising party line. I do not have nearly enough experience to know for sure but my strong suspicion is that it does not pertain particularly much to backyard-style chickenkeeping, for a large variety of reasons (am't of ventilation, type of litter being used, etcetera). I certainly would not worry about it given that you're going to have a hard time getting deep litter to compost for you *anyhow*.

    (edited to add: I notice your coop seems relatively freshly bedded. There is NO way it's a-gonna start heating up or breaking down, or getting moderately damp like Poultry Science says it should be, until you get a lot more poo mixed in there *anyhow* [​IMG])

    8’ by 12’ by 8’ front and 6’ in the back. I wish I’d lowered the roof but what’s done is done. For windows I have three plus the chicken door. I haven’t had the windows open that much cause it’s been cool.

    A reasonable, crude guideline to whether you have sufficient ventilation open at the moment: when you go into the coop first thing in the morning, before the chickens have been let out, bend over so your nose is at about knee or shin level and take a good strong whiff. Do you smell ammonia? You need a lot more ventilation. Do you not smell ammonia but it smells fairly 'zooey'? You need "some" more ventilation open. Do you smell only a very very mild, not unpleasant animals-live-here scent? You're basically ok.

    Have fun,

    Pat​
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2008
  9. max13077

    max13077 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Pat,

    Thank you for that detailed critique. I guess I need a lot more experience when it comes to chickening(is that a word?). Assuming things as I do isn't a good thing.

    I guess I'll just keep it clean and not worry about the deep litter method. Thanks for your help.
     

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