Building Materials

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by faunafanatic, Nov 5, 2009.

  1. faunafanatic

    faunafanatic New Egg

    Oct 5, 2009
    Is there any danger in using pressure treated wood when building for chickens? (coops, lay boxes, etc)
  2. wombat

    wombat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2009
    CCA is the chemical most people are concerned with in treated wood. It is an arsenic compound.

    I think more was made of the use of CCA in wood that was merited, as it is hard for the arsenate to release from the wood. However, arsenic is of course quite toxic, and concerns over possible contamination have caused CCA treated wood to be replaced with ACQ treated wood.

    If you are using CCA treated wood, the EPA recommends that you not use it where it can come into contact with feed:

    You can read the whole CCA risk report here, if you're having trouble falling asleep:

    Here's the EPA ACQ info:

    In general, the chemicals in ACQ are somewhat corrosive, but are not considered to be hazerdous chemicals.

    Here's a publication from Auburn University that indicates risks corrosion to metal fastners and siding in poultry houses using ACQ. No mention of any health risks to the poultry. Basically, ACQ is mildly corrosive, so if you put metal fastners into the wood, they will deteriorate over time if you use fastners that corrode easily.

    Disclaimer: I am not an environmental engineer! I just know where to find this stuff so you can read it!
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2009
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    'Modern' ACQ or borate-treated wood is considerably safer than the green CCA stuff that was standard til, what, maybe 5-8 years ago. I would not personally use the CCA for roosts (actually would avoid any pressure treated for roosts) because they stand on 'em barefoot for like 12 hrs a day. I also would not allow any deteriorating pressure-treated wood where chickens could get at it, as they sometimes do peck at decaying wood.

    Beyond that, though, since chickens do not peck/eat sound wood, any risks (e.g. 'something leaches into soil, is taken up by bugs or plants, eaten by chcikens') are purely theoretical and indirect, and if you do the math, incredibly miniscule. Of course it's up to each person to decide what they want to do about incredibly miniscule risks.

    Two things to remember: 1) for ground contact wood (posts in ground, and anything resting on the ground or within a couple inches of it), if you don't use pressure-treated, whatcha gonna use instead. Untreated wood of most species will rot within a year or few years; even redwood or cedar don't last very long unless they are all (or mostly) heartwood, which is expensive. And 2) it is kinda stupid to use pressure-treated wood for things that are NOT ground-contact or otherwise damp/soggy; it's more expensive, heavier, splits and twists worse, requires more-expensive nails/screws/hardware unless you want things to rust through real fast, and even if there are no major concerns with chemicals leaching into the soil, the chemicals used in production of pressure-treated wood (even the modern stuff) are *not* friendly things at the level of "factory production of p/t wood" so it is probably best to minimize how much they need to be used.

    JMHO, good luck, have fun,

  4. wingman2008

    wingman2008 Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 16, 2009
    your chickens would be exposed to the same as you sitting barefoot on a wooden deck outside your house?

    good question
  5. wombat

    wombat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2009
    Quote:Yeah, but unfortunately, I don't get to sit barefoot on a wooden deck outside my house 10-12 hours a day. [​IMG] Not yet, anyway.
  6. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    The only kind of treated wood that is available around here is the ACQ kind; can't even get the CCA anymore. I used the ACQ treated wood for my coop and run framing, but I used natural tree branches for the roosts.

    I was careful not to do any sawing of the treated wood in the coop/run area because I didn't want my chickens to be able to peck up any of the treated sawdust. I cut my boards in the garage and swept up after myself.
  7. wombat

    wombat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2009
    You can still get CCA treated wood for marine applications, but you don't generally find it at the lumberyard anymore. There's still a lot around as scrap or re-used wood, though.

    What you're likely to find "new" at the HW store is going to be ACQ.
  8. Mr. Peepers

    Mr. Peepers Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 7, 2009
    If pressure treated wood is used in any place that chickens can contact, their eggs can't be sold as "organic", but like much that's associated with the term "organic", the concerns are overblown. I see no real risk in using modern pressure treated wood for fence posts, bottom boards and pilings. I would draw the line at using it for a coop floor unless the floor were to be covered with something like linoleum. Of course, if you're really concerned, you can always use steel and concrete in place of wood that might rot.
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Remember there is still quite a lot of CCA around in peoples' garages and barns, that was bought before the changeover and never used. So it is easily possible for a person to be considering using that for their coop.

  10. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 8, 2008
    Fleetwood, PA
    Just a note that I was none too happy about. My son is a wood processing major at Penn State and in some discussions in the classroom they said that the "new" pressure treated wood may be more harmful in the long run than the CCA stuff. Don't remember the particulars, just putting it out there. Unfortunately we need pressure treated wood, but there are no guarantees of safety IMHO. I did use pressure treated wood 17 years ago for the bottom of my coop.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by