Best Bedding Options??

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Farmer_Phil, Aug 29, 2007.

  1. Farmer_Phil

    Farmer_Phil Hatching

    Aug 10, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    I'm currently using bails of straw as bedding in my coop and nesting boxes.

    It's comming time to get more, but I've been considering some other free options. Perhaps renting a wood chipper and using those chips in the coop. Or what about ferns, my yard seams to be overrun with them I could cut down quite a few and dry em for a few days?

    I'm wondering what's really the best? or if I should just stick to the straw?

    Thanks in Advance.
  2. lurky

    lurky Songster

    Jun 4, 2007
    Western MA
    I think straw or first cut hay is too stiff. Today i picked up some second cut hay for my neighbor and OMG it is soooooo soft. I use shavings myself, but i took a bag full to test it out. I'm going to put the soft second cut in 3 boxes and shavings in the other 3. Mine should be laying any day now and i want to see which they will choose. I do recommend the second cut because its softer. The neighbor told me that the shavings will be more absorbant (sp). when i get my first egg, i will have to post a pic to show which they chose.
  3. Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy Songster

    May 2, 2007
    Naples, Florida
    I use coastal hay since I buy it for the horses.
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    I just use the field grass that the supermarkets use for their pumpkin displays. I get that for free if I ask.
  5. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    I have heard that straw/hay can harbor mites ... they can crawl inside the shafts and hide? I love hay though ... I was about to try some when I read that, so I'm not sure that I will. I've also heard it can mold/mildew faster. I'm sure it depends on your climate, but we're hot/humid here, so it might not be a good idea for me for that reason.

    I started out using Aspen shavings, which work GREAT but are too expensive on a large scale. I switched to pine shavings ... the cheapest I can find here is a bale at Wal-Mart for $5, which is about half what the feed store sells it for.

    I've heard the larger the shaving the better, to cut down on dust. The ones I use are large shavings.

    They work GREAT for me, as long as they don't get wet! I am in favor of the deep litter method, but right now mine is not really "deep" until I make a few more modifications to my coop.

    Hope you find what works best for you!

    edited to add: oops, I just saw you said "free" ... but then again, if you use a wood chipper, you can make free shavings. That sounds like a great idea, if you have good woods to use. I've heard cedar can be bad (not sure if this is just for chicks, or for grown chickens too ... I just avoid cedar as a general rule). Now I wish I had a chipper and some spare wood. I've got a ton of fallen pecan branches ... I wonder if that would work!

    Last edited: Aug 30, 2007
  6. bluie

    bluie Songster

    Aug 18, 2007
    I have tons of twigs and branches of various species too and I have a wood chipper. Right now I just compost the wood chippings. I would love to know if chipped wood is ok for coop bedding or even in the run. Great thread.
  7. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

    Apr 4, 2007
    Mansfield, MO
    I use straw for the nesting boxes and deep litter method of pine shavings. No smell if I turn it each morning or so. When it does smell I add another layer of pine shavings. makes good insulation for them in hot or cold weather. Not to mention awesome for the compost/garden spots.
  8. LindaN

    LindaN Songster

    Jul 28, 2007
    My Eglu run and coop are situated on wood chips and the chickens seem OK with this. The wood chips were provided to me by the arborist service that trimmed our trees, so they are a combination of chippings from our trees and someone else's chippings. They are not finely chipped, but work well for covering the ground.

    I think the wood chips are working out very well for me. The run doesn't get soggy and muddy, even when we were getting a lot of rain. And just by raking the bottom of the run a bit, the droppings get worked into the base of chips and start decomposing. The combination of dry, "brown," materials like wood chips, and the wet, "green," materials like chicken droppings is a classic "formula" for composting with minimal to no odor or other unpleasantness. I think that since the ratio of dry to wet is more in the favor of the "browns," the composting process is working rather slowly, and therefore isn't producing a lot of heat at this point.

    We had a nasty storm move through the Chicago metro area about a week ago that downed a lot of trees, so I'm thinking I may be able to call up the city and get a truck load of more coarse wood chips that I can spread around.

    This is the photo of the Eglu, sans chickens, so you can see how it is situated.


    And this is a photo of the yard, before I put in the Eglu.


    As an aside, I have big plans for this area that include building at least 4 more raised beds for edibles. The planning and decisions on materials, etc. is taking quite a bit of time, that's all.

    As for the lining in the nest box, I am currently using some hemp bedding I picked up at a pet store. I don't know if I'm going to continue to use it or not, just thought I'd give it a try.
  9. CtlisencedArborist

    CtlisencedArborist Songster

    Jul 20, 2007
    Wood chips are just a pain in the dupa to clean completely out of your coop.I find hay to be alot easier.You can keep it drier.Wood chips when sitting in a pile compost and let of menithal fumes that can kill you if inhaled to long....................I do use them for the outside of the coop,keeps the mud at bay.If anyone in the northweastern part of Ct needs any give me a hola.I get them by the truck loads for free,and can deliver.[​IMG]
  10. CtlisencedArborist

    CtlisencedArborist Songster

    Jul 20, 2007
    Oh yeah and the flee thingy inside the hay....D/e works wonders for little buggers![​IMG]

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