Chippin' my own bedding

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by bobchristenson, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. bobchristenson

    bobchristenson Out Of The Brooder

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    The coop is done and we get our first set of little peepers in a couple weeks. The only thing left to do is get bedding for the coop (going to do deep bedding method). Here's my plan, any feedback or advice on if this will work would be greatly appreciated:

    We have a ton of branches cut last summer that are laying in a pile (not to mention a 1/4 acre woodlot that needs more trimmin'). My hope is that by spring they've dried out (ie. aren't 'green' anymore). I plan to rent a chipper and chip up a ton of woodchips from these branches and use it as our bedding. It's a mix of pine and various softwood trees. My questions are:

    1. How dry do they need to be? Considering it's self-chipped wood, I don't anticipate it being as dry as what you'd get from a supplier (more like mulch than nice woodchips I think). If I keep turning it, will moisture be an issue? (how moist is dangerous?)
    2. How do I store it? I'm assuming I'll have a whole lot, and assuming I'll need to store it in a garage or something so it continues to dry?
    3. Are there types of trees I shoudln't include? How about pine needles? I've heard some types are bad (cedar, I think?) but if it's mixed with other wood, does it matter?
    4. Will this work? I've only just envisioned doing this and I'm not sure the chips will be the right type or size...

    Anyone doing this? Seems to make sense with a woodlot to harvest.

    Any input and advice would be appreciated...thanks!
     
  2. ssellis

    ssellis Out Of The Brooder

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    The only thing would be to watch out for mold.Once it dries out good keep it covered to keep dry
     
  3. BoltonChicken

    BoltonChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The only problem I see is that the chips could be too thick to absorb the moisture the chicks are going to produce. I would opt for using the pine shavings. The commercial stuff you buy is dried, compressed and stored in airtight bags. Do not use cedar wood shavings. Straw and pine needles tend not to absorb well and clump together. The main problem here is that you are talking "chips", whereas what you really need are "shavings".
    Good luck. Keep us posted on your progress.
     
  4. bobchristenson

    bobchristenson Out Of The Brooder

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    Exactly. I think this is what I was thinking but didn't know how to put into words. Hmmm....it seems there must be a way to make this work since, well, for a couple thousand years no one had a Farm and Fleet :)
     
  5. BoltonChicken

    BoltonChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Exactly! My grandmother kept hers on dirt floors which the chickens kept scratched up and she swept clean with a stick broom. Before she had a coop built the chickens roosted in trees around the back yard. Her mother more than likely did the same. My Dad put down shavings from sawmills and used the deep litter method. Today I buy compacted shavings from a farm store, because I don't have any sawmills to visit. Most anything will work, but at my age I believe in taking the easiest path. You will see, as you visit this forum during the upcoming spring and summer, some really weird postings by people who consider their chickens as family pets. Everything has to be just so. There is panic over such things as outside temperature, and discussions are held about furnishing the chickens wading pools and ice water, showers and fans. Good grief, these are jungle birds that are highly adaptable. They can withstand things, cold included, that would bring humans to their knees.
    So, what I am taking a long time to say is: Use your chips and see how they work. If you are not happy with the results, mix in some pine shavings. If you are still not happy try putting in some sand. All in all it don't matter, and the chickens don't care.
    I admire your attitude.
     
  6. bobchristenson

    bobchristenson Out Of The Brooder

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    Hehe, chicken showers. Classic. My wife and I were chuckling the other day over giving a chicken a bath..what a sight that would be. Showers make much more sense ;)
     
  7. Dutch552

    Dutch552 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I used homemade wood chips when I was just a "Casual" chicken farmer in the past. They'll work fine if you enter into it not expecting a very absorbant bedding material because the chips are too coarse. You'll have to store them indoors because you need them to dry but also able to breathe so they do not mold on you. I buy sawdust from a local hardwood mill by the ton for the horses and chickens as bedding but I add to our pile anything that I use the chipper on around the farm. Good luck to you.
     
  8. bobchristenson

    bobchristenson Out Of The Brooder

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    Good perspective here. It sounds like using it as additive bedding, rather than the main content, is a good concept to go with.
     
  9. canesisters

    canesisters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Different take on the same sort of question.
    I have a friend who owns a cabinet shop. He generates 2-3 55gal drums of sawdust/shavings each week and has offered to keep them for me to pick up and use. This is dust/shavings from the processed wood - which brings up the chemical question... but would also be the same stuff I'd use building the coop and nest boxes.
    I've got some down now in my barn to absorb water that leaked under the wall during some hard rains. Some if it is DUST and some is dust/shavings - but all of it is dry and VERY absorbent.
    I would have access to more than I could probably use - and it's free.
    Anyone see any problems????

    And CONGRATS to you with your new peeps on the way! I can't wait till I work out enough of the 'bugs' to be ready to start bringing home birds.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012
  10. joan1708

    joan1708 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm planning on doing the same thing you are. I'm going to trim my trees and use my old Sears chipper/shredder to make them into litter. I'm going to put it in a big open top compost bin and put a tarp over it to keep most of the rain off. I also put shredded leaves and other shredded yard waste in there. My plan is to use it for the run litter. It will also be my "carbon bin".

    I think it is possible to have litter that is too dry. When I hear about dust in the coop, I'm thinking the litter is too dry.

    My coop is small. I plan to use pine/ wood shaving in the formal coop. I plan to have a poop board that I will scrape the nightly "poop crop" off into a formal compost bin and use material from the carbon pile to cover it. I think this will control odors. I have composted for 20 years and have never had a problem with "odors". I feel fairly confident this will work. I think your plan will work also. Only one way to know for sure! Try it.
     

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