how much pine bedding do they need??

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by JeninMN, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. JeninMN

    JeninMN Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 3, 2008
    Hi,

    I am still trying to decide which way to go this winter!!

    We did straw last year...it is a MESS to deal with when cleaning....

    Will pine bedding be enough....they have a concrete floor...how thick of a layer of bedding do they need when its sub zero outside? We do have a heat lamp in the coop to take the chill out...

    Also will stall dry do a good job of keeping the bedding dry in the winter? I used red lake de in the coop this summer and it seems like it turns the bedding into dust!!

    I am in central MN, would LOVE to hear from those of you that deal with the same temps we do.

    Thanks!!
     
  2. Puck-Puck

    Puck-Puck Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi!

    This is one person's opinion; please wait for a few more, as I'm not super-experienced with chickens--have yet to do the first winter with them.

    If I had a concrete floored coop, I would probably put down some plywood, just scrap sheeting laid on the floor, because concrete is so darned cold. (Ever stood barefoot on cold concrete?) Then I'd add the bedding to the depth of a few inches, to start. The birds will burrow down in that, and eventually contact the floor. That's why the plywood. Then as time goes on, just keep adding more shavings. It will get deeper as the winter gets colder. We had a couple of nights between 5 and 10 F already, and the girls seemed fine, as they roost anyhow.

    So far, my experience with pine shavings is very satisfactory. The coop is dry. Somehow the shavings (or our dry climate?) just absorb the moisture out of the poop. I sprinkled some more shavings yesterday just 'cause, and noticed that there is a high ratio of poo to shavings...yet it's odourless. And I don't use Stall-Dry or DE, either. Just shavings. Because the shavings are small, unlike straw which is long and pointing every which way, I don't anticipate a nuisance when it comes time to clean the coop in spring.
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    If you put down plywood or whatever, then you can get away with less bedding.

    My preference for ensuring bedding stays dry is to have good ventilation year-round, use droppings boards cleaned every morning (makes a huge difference), change part or all bedding (or add more) as necessary, and don't try to pack too many chickens in there. Personally I feel that stall-dry etc should only be used, if at all, as an occasional "goof fix".

    I like to have 4+" of shavings on the floor in the winter, more if it is pretty cold in the coop. (More than that for wintertime if your floor is concrete with no plywood or anything on top of it). There is no particular reason *not* to have real deep shavings if the chickens like to snuggle down into them for warmth during a cold snap.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  4. JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom

    JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 17, 2009
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    But shavings can get so expensive. Is it ok to have the shavings deeper in some areas than others? giving them a "warm" area and a "cooler" area?

    I'm going to be fencing off a 10 X 16 ft area of a 30 X 64 ft metal pole shed with concrete floor. (think I could paint two semi-trailers at a time in here, which was the original (never completed) plan for the shed) The shed should provide a decent wind break and cover from precipitation.

    The area will have an enclosed "warm" area 8' X 7' X 7' high, where the roosts will be and heat lamp if the temperatures get low. This "warm" area will be enclosed on all sides but one and will have a tarp roof to start with (I may find some other insulation is possible), I may also find some old fabric curtains to partially cover the front when it is particularly cold, but I do not want to have ventilation problems.

    Basically my coop and run will be inside the shed, so Can I get away with deeper bedding in the "Coop" and less in the "run"?

    Can we use old feed sacks as poop boards, or has this not worked for those who have tried?
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Sure. They tend to do that anyways themselves [​IMG]

    But shavings needn't be a major expense IMHO -- it's not like you have to clean them out at the first signs of poo. There are many ways of managing chicken sanitation, but one thing that works for me and for many other people is to combine a droppings board (cleaned daily; or a droppings pit cleaned less often) with just adding fresh shavings when things get kind of ucky, with relatively infrequent total cleanouts.

    I doubt I use 4-5 bags of shavings *per year* for my main sussex pen, for instance, which is 7x20.

    Of course, that's with only 5-10 chickens in there. The more chickens you put in, the more shavings you have to use, for obvious reasons.

    Still, it is quite possible to manage for low shavings use and have a functionally-clean coop and healthy chickens.

    Basically my coop and run will be inside the shed, so Can I get away with deeper bedding in the "Coop" and less in the "run"?

    yes for much of the year, BUT in cold weather you will need to keep good depth of shavings (or whatever) on all the concrete, if you want them to have legitimate use of the space. Unless you put plywood or suchlike on it.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  6. clport

    clport Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Pat is right. Use a droppings board under the roost and you'll have almost *no* poop to worry about anywhere else. I use the deep litter method with pine shavings. That's been talked about on here a lot. Do a search if you don't know what it is. I put my girls in their new coop with the shavings about two months ago and have only added a very small amount (maybe a #10 can x 2 in a 4x8 area with 4 chickens) of new shavings just last week 'cause I thought it was time, not really because it needed it. There are about 2.5" of shavings on the floor right now. We haven't had any cold weather yet (coldest nights so far have been low 40's), so I'll probably wait til January to add another 2 inches of shavings. I have also sprinked the shavings with a tiny bit of DE and mixed it in with my horse manure rake. That stuff also will help with any moisture issues. It's a great drying agent. I also agree with PuckPuck that the pine shavings really cut down on the odor. [​IMG]
    Carol
     

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