Lime - what is it exactly and how do we use it safely?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by TrulyFowl, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. TrulyFowl

    TrulyFowl Out Of The Brooder

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    Was posting this on the chicken floor thread, but realized that maybe we inexperienced cityfolk could use a little more detailed information about the use of lime. Of course I know that it comes from limestone, but I'm confused about how to buy it and use it. For instance, what is hydrated lime? Is there "unhydrated" lime? I know that people use it to keep flies down on farms and I think it's used with horses? So how do we use it correctly with our poultry? Can it burn chickens' feet? How about ducks? Do we need to apply it, wet it down and keep them off it for a certain amount of time? Can they safely ingest it like they do DE? How does it affect wildlife, like birds passing through? Any danger to the dog?

    Sorry about all the questions - it's not like I think this stuff is Agent Orange or anything, but for some reason I think it's really caustic. Hope I'm wrong. I'd like to attack the fly problem on all fronts, so would definitely like to use this if it's easily available and safe for the critters. Thanks in advance for any information.

    Adding one more question: when we're dealing with a small city lot and a limited amount of soil, how does the use of limestone ulimately affect the soil? Does it acidify it or neutralize (alkalyze?) it? So there wouldn't be any future damage for gardening, etc?
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2009
  2. Amethyste

    Amethyste For Love of Boo...

    I use the agricultural lime/garden lime. It says on the bag I have that it is non-irratant, will not burn grass and so on.

    It is a powder, not granules or pellets. I take about 2-3 cups of it and sprinkle it over my 10 x 10 run every week and rake it over. It doesnt do much for flies that I can see but it helps with the smell. It should look like a light dusting of snow according to the guy I talked to.

    It sweetens the run I guess would be the term. I have been using it for months now with no issues at all with my birds digging around in it. I put down the lime, then rake it, then do the same with the DE. The DE helps more for flies i think than the lime.

    The smell has gone down quite a bit, the lime helps break down the outside droppings is what I have been told, and causes them to not smell as much, while the DE helps with fly reduction and bug control, as well as ingesting it is supposed to help with worms. Does it help? I dont know but I have been doing the DE for 5 years and no internal worms in the girls....and in the heat wave we had and the summer storms the smell hasnt been as bad as in the past.

    The DE in the run is good for me and my girls, they like the take dirt baths and the DE is all mixed up in the dirt so it is still doing its job. Lime doenst go directly on the critters, it is mixed in soil. Some people shake the DE right onto the birds and ruffle it in, but I dont really do that. I use the DE to put in the run, Stall Dry <clay/DE> in the coop, and there we go. I do occasionally add a little DE to the feed, but that is mostly in the winter.

    I have dirt in the run, then a good layer of lime, then sand over that. Then I have the DE <a good layer> and then the wood bark mulch stuff...medium chips. Its very easy to just turn over the floor in the run once a week and do a bit of DE and a bit of lime.

    As for long term I couldnt tell you that. I just know that if we move from here there wil be a huge lovely pile of compost for the new people to use for their gardening needs lol
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2009
  3. Tuffoldhen

    Tuffoldhen Flock Mistress

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    Quote:This is a nice thread that was posted about different limes.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=47639

    I have used Hydrated lime and the garden lime in my runs but I tilled the soil both times and then let the rains hit it or hosed it down. Hydrated will burn chickens feet so there is a longer waiting time than garden lime that is used in veggie gardens. Works great in outside runs for smell and getting rid of some nasty bacteria or germs. Hope this helps. Garden lime they can be back on in a few days if it is watered down propertly. My thoughts!

    Forgot to post the thread or link! sorry lol
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2009
  4. mdbokc

    mdbokc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 22, 2009
    Oklahoma County, OK
    I use a pelletized lime, Signature Series, purchased from my local feed store. Just throw a couple of handfuls across the top of the ground in the run every 4-5 weeks.
     
  5. Amethyste

    Amethyste For Love of Boo...

    Quote:This is a nice thread that was posted about different limes.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=47639

    I have used Hydrated lime and the garden lime in my runs but I tilled the soil both times and then let the rains hit it or hosed it down. Hydrated will burn chickens feet so there is a longer waiting time than garden lime that is used in veggie gardens. Works great in outside runs for smell and getting rid of some nasty bacteria or germs. Hope this helps. Garden lime they can be back on in a few days if it is watered down propertly. My thoughts!

    Forgot to post the thread or link! sorry lol

    That is one reason I do it in the evening, so I can wet it down and let it set.... they have been out next day with no issues.
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Three things, not to be confused:

    CaO (calcium oxide) is quicklime. It reacts very vigorously with water and is quite caustic and rather dangerous to work with, and not highly relevant to the chicken coop other than 'don't get it by mistake'.

    Ca(OH)2 (calcium hydroxide) is hydrated lime aka slaked lime.

    Ground limestone (aka agricultural lime) is, well, ground limestone [​IMG] As such, it is mainly calcium carbonate, often with significant amounts of magnesium as well IIRC. But the exact mineral composition depends on the type of limestone from which it was made. Ag lime can be bought either in powdered or pelletized form, the difference being basically just convenience and details of behavior in the soil.

    Either hydrated (slaked) lime OR agricultural lime can be used in the chicken run, to counteract acidity (they raise pH to a more alkaline point) or in somewhat larger amounts to disinfect/deodorize. In my experience, hydrated lime is more often used for disinfecting/deodorizing and ag lime is more often used if the main goal is to correct soil pH, but I do not know how generally true this is in the world at large.

    None of them are good for you to breathe, get in your eyes, or wallow around in, any more than any other kind of dust; but only quicklime will actually hurt you. (It *will* seriously hurt you, or chickens -- it used to be semi-commonly used to chemically-burn corpses and carcasses, esp. if contagious disease was involved). I am not sure how easy it even *is* to buy quicklime these days OTC, but, just make sure you're getting one of the others, and treat it with respect as with any fine dusty product, till it in if you're using a bunch of it, and you'll be fine.

    As far as effect on soil, it depends what your soil pH is to start with and how much lime you apply, of course [​IMG] If you care, like for gardening reasons, you could do periodic pH tests to check. Chicken runs tend to get more and more acid over time, though, so if you ever decided to garden there you might *have* to lime a bit before planting *anyhow*.

    Pat
     
  7. Amethyste

    Amethyste For Love of Boo...

    Thank you pat!!

    You explain it so nicely [​IMG] I dont use the lime OR DE that I put down so that they can dustbathe in their pure dusty form...its mixed into the soil so they wont get hurt at all from it. If it is mixed up in all the dirt etc it will still be there so its all good imho:)

    The lime I use is ONLY for outside... i never use it inside the coop. The little buggers make enough dust on their own, I dont need to add still more.
     
  8. mdbokc

    mdbokc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 22, 2009
    Oklahoma County, OK
    Which is why I like the pelletized lime. It is like little gravel, no dust or fines, easy to handle.
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Has anyone here used both powdered and pelletized ag lime enough to have a sensible judgement about whether they are equivalent in 'strength' and efficacy, for disinfecting and deodorizing specifically? (ie. I am not asking about simple soil pH adjustment)

    In principle it seems the pelletized lime should not work as well for disinfecting and deodorizing, on account of making poorer and less immediate contact with the soil, but I have no idea if that's actually true "in action"

    Anyone?

    Pat
     
  10. mdbokc

    mdbokc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 22, 2009
    Oklahoma County, OK
    My flies are gone the next day or two after I throw out the pelletized lime. I only throw it out into the run when flies start to gather or an odor begins to be noticed. If you run a garden rake lightly across the soil to help it work in the top 1/8 - 1/4 inch of soil, no real effort here...it works overnight for me. We were surprised at the immediate effect.
     

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