Can I make my own bedding?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by TeamChaos, Jul 26, 2010.

  1. TeamChaos

    TeamChaos Songster

    Nov 8, 2009
    I buy wood shavings and combine it with hay for the bedding in my coop, which I know is not ideal but it gets expensive to buy wood shavings in bulk and just try to store them safely during flood season! Anyway, I got to thinking about how I could cut out this cost and I've got a lot of little trees I need to clear off the land as it is, could I buy a chipper/shredder and make my own shavings? I've never operated a chipper/shredder before, so it's quite possible I'm totally misled. Any input appreciated.
  2. WhiteMountainsRanch

    WhiteMountainsRanch Crowing

    Jun 19, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    We did that with some of our shavings but you have to be careful- some of the oils in certain woods aren't good for them, and then there are lots of bugs and stuffs...

    Just my opinion. [​IMG] Hope it helps!
  3. Tropical Chook

    Tropical Chook Songster

    Jul 5, 2010
    Bedding, bedding, used to drive me up the wall because no matter what I used in the nesting boxes, it would all get kicked out in minutes. I even tried shredded paper, but that got eaten. Then, I came across a tip here on BYC which said to use old towels. It's worked a real treat for me, and I've never looked back. In fact, all out old t-shirts and towels end up being used in the nesting boxes nowadays, and hey, it's better than throwing them away. Also, once they get mucky, I simply throw them into a bucket of water with some bleach. I let them soak for a few hours, and then hang them up to dry. The birds seem to like the idea as well so it's a win-win situation. [​IMG]
  4. write2caroline

    write2caroline Songster

    Jun 21, 2009
    What about pine needles and leaves - My girls make nests sometimes in the pine needles when they are broody and want to hide their eggs.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Running wood through a chipper/grinder will not make shavings. It will make messy, big, wet chips/shreds and wet dust. If you have somewhere under a roof to let the stuff dry out real well (in a very fothin layer for a few days of dry weather,r some months in a thicker layer) and then store it dry, it can be used for bedding but is not going to be absorbant or easy-to-deal-with like shavings. If you're chipping live trees you will have to dry it even longer. Otherwise, you are importing large quantities of humidity into the coop... think 'mold' and 'frostbite'.

    If you want shavings comparable to the commercial product, you need to get into woodworking and buy a planer or joiner (the big power equipment, not like a block plane [​IMG]) and use it a whole lot. (Other power tools produce more jsut 'dust' than shavings, which won't work real well in a coop usually).

    The most successful schemes I've seen for using homemade bedding involve either bagging dried fall leaves and storing them dry til you use them (not absorbant, but free), or using pine straw (only works if you have access to lotsa free fallen pine needles, obviously), or using waste paper run thru a shredder (I don't personally like shredded paper as bedding, for me it turns into a really nasty clumpy form of paper-mache, but some people seem to like it well enough). In principle you could cut, dry and store tall grass as homemade hay for use as bedding, but that is actually not at all easy to do without getting into mold. And again, it requires lots of storage, which is your whole problem in the first place.

    I would suggest that, all in all, perhaps you might have more success in taking a second look at how you are USING bedding, and see if you can alter your management scheme to USE less of it. It can often be done, sometimes to a considerable degree. (I use maybe 4-5 bales of shavings per year for my 7x20 sussex pen, and it is quite clean and sanitary and good-smelling nonetheless)

    Good luck, have fun,

  6. FF

    FF Songster

    Jan 9, 2010
    Why don't you use sand? I have never but have seen alot of people do it. Use shavings in the nest boxes and go around with a pitch fork and get all the you know what out of teh coop. Never have to worry about buying shavings for a long time.
  7. TeamChaos

    TeamChaos Songster

    Nov 8, 2009
    Thank you all so much! Patandchickens, thank you for taking the time to tell me the differences in the end product/ tools used- I appreciate it!

    I have the chickens in a '64 beeline trailer- hadn't considered using sand because I'm already a little leery of adding too much weight to the floor. The floor has stick on linoleum tiles (my mother was *very* concerned that I was leaving it plywood, so she took it upon herself to "class up the joint" [​IMG] sometimes ya gotta let people do whatever makes them happy- I don't think she realized the chickens would poop on it) and leaving it totally bare makes for too much scraping when it's time to clean- I end up pulling the tiles up. As of now, I have the floor and every flat surface covered with a mix of hay, straw and large wood shavings. The nest boxes have assorted fillings- all wood shavings, all straw, mixed etc. The most used roosts have poop trays under them, so that helps, but I end up changing out the bedding in the most lived spaces about every week. Do I not need that much bedding material? Should it only be in the nest boxes? Perhaps I'm approaching this wrong, maybe my energy would be better spent trying to corral the poop rather than change out the "litter"...
  8. helloroe

    helloroe Songster

    Jul 16, 2009
    Cetral FL
    I used to change weekly as well. Research deep litter method. I have been doing that since we built the new bigger coop and I will never look back. Each week I throw another layer of new shavings on top and some DE and the girls are great about scratching it all in. I figure it will be a once a year clean out thing now. I find overall I use alot less shavings this way as well so win-win situation.
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    You might try the following, see how you like it. (If you don't, go back to the way you're doing it or try something else, but I think it's worth a whirl unless you have quite a lot of chickens crowded into there and they don't have a lot of outdoor space to use)

    Remove ALL the existing hay and straw. (You need not remove shavings, but every bit of the long filamentous stuff has to go b/c IME it does not work well with deeper lower-maintenance litter systems.)

    Then add more shavings (good, dry, storeboughten bales of bedding shavings) til you have maybe 3-6" on the floor. And put droppings boards at least 16" wide under ALL the roosts.

    Then, see what happens. Clean the droppings boards as often as you can (ideally daily, but, whatever works for you). Add more shavings to areas where the floor consistently gets bare, or when the bedding seems to be almost as much poo as bedding. You will definitely have to add some shavings every week or less at first, as you're fine-tuning things and discovering how much you really need; after a certain point though you are likely to find that it reaches a sort of 'stable state' where you don't need to add more except at long intervals. Keep it all DRY, and catch and remove as much roost poo as possible using your droppings boards, and you may well find your bedding needs become quite low (see my earlier post for example).

    Don't do anything until/unless you start noticing an ammonia smell (even just near the floor) when you open the coop up in the morning despite very good ventilation. At *that* point, you may indeed need to remove some of the worst bedding and replace it -- but chances are there will still be large areas of relatively-clean bedding that can be preserved.

    Basically just try playing it by eye rather than by calender, and removing only the actively-nasty stuff, and see if you can find something that works for you. Except in very crowded conditions, you quite possibly can.

    Good luck, have fun,

  10. wood&feathers

    wood&feathers Songster

    Dec 22, 2009
    E. KY
    For bedding I use planer shavings, "mountain sand" and shredded leaves. "Mountain sand" is a pinkish sand with quartz pebbles that turns up in the ditches of roads here at higher elevations. It is basically ground up cliffs. WE have 2 piles from when the kids were younger. My planer shavings are a byproduct of woodworking in my shop. I only plane very dry wood, so I scoop it up when I get done with the planer and put it in buckets. The leaves are from when I vacuum out the basement stairwell, or out from around the house and porch as part of good woodland fire safety.

    By layering these I get some beautiful compost when I muck out the coop and run! If a wood is toxic (like walnut), it's shavings go down a pit near the house, out of reach of all the animals. Besides, most woods dangerous for animals are also toxic to plants and you wouldn't want THAT in your compost.

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