Need help! What kind of bedding is best?

rosaidys89

Hatching
Sep 29, 2015
5
0
7
I'm new to the chicken world and I need help! I was wondering what kind of bedding is best for a chicken coop and where can I get it from. I've been using dry leaves that have fallen from the trees but that's not really working out. What do you use?
 

Macis Papa

In the Brooder
Nov 28, 2015
88
11
42
Central Iowa
Pine shavings are pretty cheap and work pretty well,most feed stores have them. I use them or straw.I prefer the pine shavings (easier to clean out of the coop) the chickens prefer the straw (more fun to scratch around in)
 

rosaidys89

Hatching
Sep 29, 2015
5
0
7
How often do you clean out the coop with the pine shavings? And when you do, do you remove it all and replace it? Or is there something else you do? Thank you so much for your help!
 

yyz0yyz0

Songster
9 Years
May 2, 2012
618
115
194
How often do you clean out the coop with the pine shavings? And when you do, do you remove it all and replace it? Or is there something else you do? Thank you so much for your help!

I use pine chips in my coop and I also use poopboards. I only clean out my pine chips every two years, the poop boards catch 90% of the manure so the coop bedding remains very clean. I also have food and water outside the coop only, so that reduces not only the moisture in the bedding from waterers but also forces them to go outside sooner than they might have on their own in inclement weather.

There is no "perfect" bedding, "it all depends" would be a good answer to that question. Depends on your setup, home many birds you have, do you use poop boards, do you have food and water in the coop or only outside, are you practicing DLM, etc etc.

Every bedding type has it's tradeoffs, you have to weigh those tradeoffs and find a bedding that suits your needs the best.
Things to consider for bedding:
Moisture retention
material breakdown(as you now know dried leaves break down quick into lots of dust.)
cost
mattability
availability
how often the coop is cleaned
disposal of waste bedding

what is perfect for one owner's setup might be considered perfect for another owner. I my self would not want to be spending say $100/yr on bedding, but others would not even hesitate to spend that much for bedding. You might be willing to put up with inconvience of one type of bedding due to it being free while others would be willing to spend the $$$ on what they consider to be a better choice for them.
 

Cheep N Peep

Songster
Apr 9, 2015
368
214
146
Castle Rock, Colorado
My Coop
My Coop
I raised my chicks up on pelletized horse stall bedding. That stuff lasted FOREVER- if you kept it dry. Chicken poop? Not a problem. Leaky shower faucet? Moldy stinky concrete mess. In the (dry) coop it was very efficient, there was no smell, and even when the pellets had all turned into sawdust, the bedding continued to be usable... I often encouraged this by pouring hot water on the pellets when I replaced the bedding because it dried quickly and sawdust went farther. None of my chickens ever ate it. (although one of my neighbors fervently told me that my chickens would all get compacted crop and die horrible deaths if I didn't switch bedding right now- they were 19 weeks old and had not ever eaten it, except for a nibble when they were 2 days old) The biggest thing about it was the dust. Every time a chicken flapped it's wings, or jumped off the feeder, or took a dust bath, dust swirled up into the air to choke me. And although the birds didn't mind, I have some mild asthma and couldn't stand it.
I finally broke down and switched to shavings, knowing they would take longer to compost and wouldn't last as long... but I love them! They last a little less than a month, just as long as the other stuff (for me), when all my birds have four square feet of indoor space plus a poop board, and an unfinished run. (they do free range every morning, though) They are not half so dusty as the horse bedding, look much more comfortable, and don’t pack down as easily. I stir the shavings with my boots when I visit with my girls, so the poop gets mixed in and I don’t have a clean layer under the soiled layer, and the clean stuff isn’t wasted when I clean coop. Not that they don’t scratch around in the shavings looking for tasty things (like, I dunno, smaller shavings? They don't find anything, but they still look). The shavings don't get kicked into things as easily, either, although I'm sure they would fill up my waterer if I didn't use a nipple waterer. I also use it in the nesting boxes, and it works well there as well. They are very absorbent.
I could not imagine using leaves for the whole coop- I used it for the poop board until my local TSC got more sweet PDZ, and the leaves had to be changed frequently, smelled anyway, and did not absorb any moisture, even chopped up.
Some people use sand, and my sand/sweet PDZ poop board is awesome, so I could see how it might be nice for the whole coop. Some people use shredded newspaper, or straw/hay (a controversial topic), or the deep litter method, which I would like to try but my coop isn't built for it.
 

Hokum Coco

Crowing
8 Years
Dec 6, 2012
4,274
3,643
477
New Brunswick,Canada
I raised my chicks up on pelletized horse stall bedding.
I have used the same or similar. Sometimes it is not available and I use pine shavings or a mix of the two. Sometimes neither are available and I have to use what ever I can get my hands on news paper leaves peat moss you name it. It all makes my gardens grow.



How often do you clean out the coop with the pine shavings? When ever needed for six months (once a week). And when you do, do you remove it all and replace it? Once in the spring through the winter months (it usually freezes and I just keep adding bedding to it I could not clean it out if I wanted to.) Or is there something else you do? Thank you so much for your help!
 
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Cheep N Peep

Songster
Apr 9, 2015
368
214
146
Castle Rock, Colorado
My Coop
My Coop
I have used the same or similar sometimes it is not avaiable and I use pine shavings or a mix of the two.
I still like pine shavings better, although the horse stall stuff was nice for a while. I just couldn't stand the dust + the chicken dust after all the pellets turned into sawdust... the combination made it hard for me to breath. I'm also happy with the shavings in my compost pile. The sawdust could actually disappear after a good rainstorm.
 

ChickenMammX4

Songster
Mar 17, 2015
1,044
243
161
SW Ohio
We use pine shavings in the coop and have been very happy. We get them at Tractor Supply. We clean them out once a year. 2 large bags fill the coop nicely. We do have a poopboard under the roost so that catches most of the droppings keeping the coop floor cleaner. The poopboard is filled with PDZ and gets cleaned daily.
 

Hokum Coco

Crowing
8 Years
Dec 6, 2012
4,274
3,643
477
New Brunswick,Canada
We use pine shavings in the coop and have been very happy. We get them at Tractor Supply. We clean them out once a year. 2 large bags fill the coop nicely. We do have a poopboard under the roost so that catches most of the droppings keeping the coop floor cleaner. The poopboard is filled with PDZ and gets cleaned daily.
My poop board is 3½ inches from the roost and is just vinyl flooring it get cleaned daily sometimes. It is excellent for catching eggs laid through the night.

Nest boxes
In my nest boxes I fold a feed bag to fit (nest boxes are 1 ft³). When a bag gets soiled; fold a new one; pop out the soiled; pop in the new. Feed bags are a nylon mesh bag.
Frozen poop just peels off in below freezing temperatures and just flakes off in summer when left out in the sun to bake and dry.

I have 65 trips around the sun it is the best method I have stumbled upon.

Make sure the twine is removed from the open end of the bag it can get tangled around your birds.

 
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ChickenSaloon

In the Brooder
6 Years
Oct 17, 2013
17
2
24
There is no "perfect" bedding, "it all depends" would be a good answer to that question. Depends on your setup, home many birds you have, do you use poop boards, do you have food and water in the coop or only outside, are you practicing DLM, etc etc.

Many of our customers are always asking for the "perfect" maintenance products. There's just so much to consider, I think you nailed the million dollar question here! Pine shavings have always worked best for us.

We just created another thread about reviewing which products are best for coop maintenance, maybe you have more helpful tips to share with us for customers that are new to chicken farming!
 

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