composting pine shavings

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by CraftyChicky, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. CraftyChicky

    CraftyChicky Songster

    Mar 17, 2012
    My darling husband has expressed concern over our using pine shavings in the coop. He tells me the shavings take a lot longer to compost, and actually USE up nutrients in the process. Anyone have any comments/ideas about this? He wants to use wheat straw.
  2. CraftyChicky

    CraftyChicky Songster

    Mar 17, 2012
    Yep, just read on that sure enough the pine shavings need nitrogen to break down. I was hoping to just throw the pine shavings from the coop over in the garden. Guess I will have to compost it first.
  3. duckinnut

    duckinnut Songster

    Jul 18, 2010
    Marshfield, Ma.
    Last year was the first time I used shavings/poop in the garden and the results were incredible. I find the shavings are quite broken down before I remove them from the coop. I do a full cleanout 3 times a year. The last just before the hard frost hits and just roll it into the garden beds along with any leaf material that may have gathered. Don't know about them using nutrients to break down. Shavings in the whole seem to break down fairly quickly, maybe your suppliers are thicker than mine. The key to any good composting is aerate or rolling it over frequently and keeping it damp. I put some in a barrel from my infirmary coop for injured hens along with other compost materials. Within a months time you could not make out any shavings. Don't have much knowledge on wheat straw not a big crop here in the old Northeast.
    1 person likes this.
  4. duckinnut

    duckinnut Songster

    Jul 18, 2010
    Marshfield, Ma.
    Chicken poop is high in nitrogen anyway, more than the pine will need to break down. That is why I only clean my coop every 4 months because the shavings are pretty close to dust already.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Pine shavings will work, but, yes they will take longer to decompose than wheat straw.

    You can get as complicated as you want about composting, but it's basically organic stuff rotting. There are two basic materials used in composting, carbon and nitrogen. The closer you get to the right percentage of carbon versus nitrogen, the faster the process goes. But even if that ratio is way off, it will still happen.

    Those microbes need it to be moist. You don't want it soaking sopping wet or the microbes can't breathe, but they do need a little moisture.

    What essentially happens is that the microbes digest the carbon. They use nitrogen for energy. That's why you need a balance of carbon and nitrogen. While they are digesting that carbon, they do tie up some of the nitrogen. If there is a lot more carbon than nitrogen, they may tie up practically all the nitrogen in the area. But that is only temporary. By the time the composting is over with, all that nitrogen is again available for the plants. Composting does not use up any nutrients. The nitrogen is available at the end of the process, just not necessarily during the process. So I’d say your husband is partially right, there is a basis for what he said, but there is more to the story.

    An added benefit to composting is that in some forms nitrogen can be leeched away by water. But composting puts it in a chemical form that is available for the plants but it does not leech away as easily.

    You can use a lot of different things for carbon; wood shavings, straw, pine needles, shredded leaves, shredded paper, plant remains from your garden, even wood chips, many different things. There are several different possible sources for the nitrogen. Chicken poop is a great one.

    Something that often happens, especially if you clean out your coop often. The amount of chicken poop mixed with the bedding does not provide enough nitrogen for composting, so the process can take a really long time. Many of us use a poop board to collect the poop under the roost. This not only gives almost pure poop which is great for composting, but it helps your bedding last a lot longer.
    aart, Bear Foot Farm and CraftyChicky like this.
  6. mstricer

    mstricer Crowing

    Feb 12, 2009
    I have awesome compost and I put the shavings in it from my small coops and brooders all winter, now I have black gold. From the big coop I use straw and the garden is right next to the coop, that gets put in there all winter. Good ground now.
  7. thebanthams

    thebanthams Songster

    Jun 12, 2010
    Safford, Arizona
    I used some pine shavings along with chicken poop for my garden . I notice the pine shavings keeps water longer. really helps my desert garden ! But I prefer straw. I noticed my eggs are cleaner with straw than pine shavings.
    1 person likes this.
  8. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008
    Your husband is right, if you don't fully compost the shavings they will use up nitrogen in the decomposition process and stunt your plants.This is only a problem if you put them on the garden without composting them first, however--see Ridgerunner, above. We compost our shavings for two years before we put them on the garden unless they are really poopy and I think that they'll get enough nitrogen from the poo.

    Shavings vs. straw is personal preference, but I think shavings work MUCH better. It's easier to just clean a corner vs. the whole pen, and it's easier to just take the poopy top off and leave the relatively clean under parts. We use shavings on the floor and straw in the nest boxes. Straw definitely does keep eggs cleaner in the nest boxes.
    1 person likes this.
  9. revmichael

    revmichael In the Brooder

    Sep 3, 2013
    I know this is an older thread but I'd like to add to it as well.

    I have 4 Barred Rocks and In the Tampa Florida area - my coop is a 1/2 inch wire raised floor (they have a loft style coop) and underneath is bare ground that I put pine shavings in to help when it rains to keep them dry - every 2-3 weeks I clean up what's left on the hard wire floor and mix it in with the shavings that either 1 - the girls scratched to end up outside the run - and 2 that's been underneath the upper coop - so I have LOTS OF POOP going in with the pine shavings

    In only months I have a nice little pile (the girls are almost 3 months old) that I have in a big rubbermaid container - going to make a tumbler out of a large black trash can to help break this all down quickly.

    I figured with the heat of the sun hitting the container, along with the poop and the tumbling action (from what I've read at least daily tumbling) I'll have compost in 2-4 months - and being here in Florida we basically have a growing season year round so I can constantly be amending the different garden plots every few months with some great fertilizer.

    Of course after the composting is done I will let it set for up to 2 months if it will be used in the veggie gardens if top dressing. I'm planning on making raised beds too so this will be great when making a new bed.
  10. BobDBirdDog

    BobDBirdDog Songster

    Jun 8, 2014
    Chicken poop has a high content of nitrogen as well as phosphorus and potassium other like goodies in it. So I would think that even though it would take a little longer, the nitrogen argument would not be a logic or reason NOT to use shavings in the pen.
    Besides. Have you ever seen how fast a flock can tear down "trample" straw on the ground?

    I am sure I missed some point in not using it but just saying.

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