Mulch / wood chips in outdoor run - is pine a problem?


10 Years
Mar 16, 2009
Oakland, CA
I was planning on having mulch delivered to my house for free from a tree trimmer to use in various parts of my garden, and also in a fenced in area where the chickens hang out when I'm home. I told the tree trimmer that I can't take any cedar, which shouldn't be a problem because they are not that common. Pine is a different story - it is very common. I was just reading about pine having toxic phenols as well.

Should I avoid pine mulch? This would be freshly chopped up tree bits, so it could have a strong odor. On the other hand it would be completely outside, in the sun, fully exposed. I could keep the chickens out of it for a while as their secure coop is next to this area.

If I can't take pine mulch I might not be able to get free stuff from the tree trimmer because pines are so common.

Thanks for any advice!
Pine is fine, but are you sure you want to use mulch in an outdoor run? I would think it would get gross and stinky. I guess it would depend on where you live though. I'm in the Pacific NW and we get a lot of rain so I wouldn't use it. I'm saving so I can put a layer of gravel and a few yards of sand in my run.

I bet they would love to scratch thru all that mulch though. Mine had a blast in the flower beds when I re-mulched in the early summer.
Well that's pretty ironic that we both live in Olympia! (last poster). I use wood chip in my run and I really like it. The run never gets muddy, the hens are clean, and they love to scratch around in it. Part of the run is covered, part is not, but both areas are fine. You can use cedar, pine whatever since it is outside and the aroma (phenols) will not build up. The only thing I ask for is NO HOLLY--it is terribly prickly until it breaks down (about 1 year). So I would say go for it!, best thing is, it is free!
Thanks for the responses,
I am in the San Francisco Bay area so also have soggy winters, and it's true - it could get gross if they lived in the mulch area all the time. But they will be in the secure coop most of the time on gravel/sand, and only in the mulched area for a few hours per day. I think I will give it a try. It is only about a 12'x12' area so worst case I have to move some soggy mulch to another spot. Can't wait to get this all done and post pics!

Thanks again,
I use cedar, mainly because we have alot cedar at the farm we are clearing. We have a wood chipper that run off the PTO on the tractor I like to let it set for a couple of months before I use great helps it smell better around the run
I live on Vancouver Island Bc were it rains all winter. We use wood chips and it work great, there is no problem at all with smells.
I've read several places that some feel that Cedar chips can be harmful to chickens. We only use Pine chips which work well to patch muddy spots. Cedar chips can also have a strong smell if placed inside housing; Therefore, we don't use it in our dog houses. Cedar is good to repel insects and our fence posts are all cedar.

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