Don't the chickens eat the wood shavings and droppings when they are eating from deep litter?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Dinosuarus, Oct 29, 2014.

  1. Dinosuarus

    Dinosuarus In the Brooder

    Oct 14, 2014
    I don't get it. The chickens eat the wood shavings and droppings when they are scratching and eating deep litter? How are they not? Isn't the food that they are scratching for and eating covered in wood shavings and chicken excrement?
  2. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master

    Jan 10, 2013
    Eating litter can be harmful, there is a study on this in commercial poultry that I found quite disturbing. But those chickens ate large amounts of litter. I think they can handle small amounts, but not excessive. Mine ate shavings like they were treats and had to make a change.

    Make sure the feeders are elevated so they cannot scratch it out, consider a board or something below to keep food out of the litter? And a way to offer treats without them mixing in the litter?
  3. Dinosuarus

    Dinosuarus In the Brooder

    Oct 14, 2014
    Don't people throw scratch, scraps, treats, etc. onto the deep litter and let the chickens mix it up (aerate and turn it)? When they do this, how are the chickens not eating the wood shavings and poop? ... and yes, I know there are thousands of pages on deep litter at this site alone. I looked, but oy vey, who has the time?!!
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014
  4. HighStreetCoop

    HighStreetCoop Songster

    Aug 28, 2014
    Oakland, CA
    My Coop
    This honestly never occurred to me as an issue to worry about. Chickens by nature scratch and hunt for edible things. It's what they're designed to do.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Chickens eat poop. That’s just something they do. Poop is concentrated partially-digested nutrients. It’s also how they share probiotics and build flock immunities. It would be unnatural if they did not eat poop.

    They will eat some wood shavings. One of the first thing a broody hen does with her chicks is teach them to eat dirt. That way they get poop from the flock so they can work on their immunities and get the flock probiotics, they get grit to help them digest things, and they get nutrients from the dirt they eat and the vegetable matter in the dirt. Some of that is going to be bits of wood and other plants.

    More people probably raise chicks on wood shavings than any other litter. It’s generally recommended that you put paper towels on top of the shavings for a couple of days to help them understand where their main food source is but not everyone does that. As long as the chick doesn’t eat so many wood shavings that they form a wad in the crop that cannot be passed on and cause an impacted crop or they form a wad in the gizzard and cause an impacted gizzard (grit will help in the gizzard but does nothing for the crop) it is not a problem. They will pass through the chick’s digestive system and out the back end, usually pretty well digested.

    It is possible a chick could get an impacted crop or impacted gizzard from eating shavings, grass, or anything else that can form a wad in the crop or gizzard. It is possible a piece of space junk could fall out of the sky and hit your house. It’s possible and more likely you could have an accident the next time you drive to the grocery. Lots of thing are possible but some things are more likely to happen than others. It’s possible eating wood shavings can cause a problem but it is highly unlikely.
    3 people like this.
  6. Dinosuarus

    Dinosuarus In the Brooder

    Oct 14, 2014
    This is the kind of thing I needed to read and confirm. ^ Thanks.
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    You'd be surprised how precise a chicken can be, to pick a single piece of cracked corn out of a bunch of shavings. They pretty much only eat what they want, but what they want is way different than human standards. A bird's natural diet is off the ground, after all.

    My birds don't eat the shavings, as a rule, even chicks. Chicks will taste shavings, just like any baby puts things in their mouth, but that's it.

    As far as poop, Ridgerunner covered that well.
    2 people like this.

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