Best Compostable Coop Bedding

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by riversbendhen, Apr 8, 2017.

  1. We are still in the infancy of our chicken rearing with a small flock of 5 two week old hens. Our coop will be coming soon and I am starting to think about what kind of bedding for the coop and run would be best for composting and using in our organic garden beds. I heard there is a cob bedding that breaks down nicely but haven't found it yet. We are just using pine shavings for our lil peeps now. Is that a good compostable material for garden beds? I would love to hear any input into the matter.


  2. zephyricle

    zephyricle Chirping

    Feb 4, 2017
    I use shavings and it works perfectly for compoating, as long as it's Un compost for long enough, it's perfect!
    Also a little fun tip, you can put in lenolium on the flooring of the coop to get the shavings out easier, and there will be minimal water damage from the soiled shavings, especially if it's wooden.
    1 person likes this.
  3. 0wen

    0wen Songster

    Mar 25, 2016
    Southwest Virginia
    Shavings are terrible for composting, in that they take forever to break down. The nitrogen is likely fixed by the chicken manure, but it adds a level of doubt that doesn't really need to be there. I use to use them when I first started with chickens because I didn't know any better and that's what was available at the feed store. I currently use a mix of wood chips (not shavings but stuff that is sent through a chipper), grass clippings, dried pine needles, dried leaves, a small amount of chopped straw (that I use in the nesting boxes, but it gets mixed into the bedding by the birds on occasion). I use the same basic mix in my coop and my run - my birds aren't 'locked' into their coop at night, but rather run and coop are secure - you can see my setup by following the link in my signature.

    When I do maintenance, I move the bedding material from the interior coop to the chicken run for it to finish composting and replenish the bedding in the interior coop with a fresh mix - I start with a layer of mixed sized wood chips then add the rest in as it becomes available. The birds do an amazing job of breaking down the wood chip based mix, especially in the run. I add organic material to the run regularly to keep the birds busy doing my compost work. I also compost, for the most part, in my run. All of my garden waste goes in the run, as well as a variety of table scraps. Anything I don't feel is safe for the birds goes into a traditional compost bin outside of the coop. I also occasionally compost expired birds in my exterior compost bin - anything that dies of disease or questionable causes goes off to the state lab for necropsy and doesn't make it to the compost bin.

    Many 'Tree Service' businesses will deliver piles of wood chips for free if you have room to have it. It's easy to get a perpetual supply for basically nothing.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Any organic material will break down. How fast depends a lot on keeping the moisture level correct and having a decent ratio of browns (carbon) and greens (nitrogen). Temperature and turning play a part too. Some people compost in the coop or run and let the chickens do the turning for them.

    To me the most important thing about bedding is that it is relatively inexpensive if not free and it is readily available. Whether it is those wood pellets that turn to sawdust when they get wet, wood shavings, straw, hay, grass clippings, dried leaves or something else, it all works. Wood shavings will break down faster than wood chips because they are smaller. Sawdust will probably break down faster than wood shavings. Some things will break down a little faster than other things, so you might want to avoid the bigger chunks. But in the overall scheme of things I consider this not at the top of my criteria when deciding what bedding to use.

    For what it is worth, I use wood shavings as bedding in the coop. When I clean the coop out in the fall I put that straight on the garden and till it in. By planting time it’s broken down. I normally mulch with wheat straw in the garden or wood chips I got from a tree service in my landscaping beds. After a season the wheat straw is pretty much broken down. It gets tilled in. The wood chips in the landscaping beds on top of landscaping cloth have broken down a lot but there are still lot of chunks left a year later. I take them up and use the year old chips to mulch in the garden, but I also get a lot of good compost from them. Part of how long they last depends on what kind of tree was chipped.
    1 person likes this.
  5. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Songster

    Mar 17, 2015
    SW Ohio
    We use deep bedding (pine shavings) in the coop, deep litter (straw, hay, grass clippings, leaves, pine needles and landscape debris) in the run. It all gets tilled into the garden. It all breaks down fine.
    2 people like this.

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