Organic Cedar Mulch- did I choose the wrong bedding


8 Years
Feb 18, 2011
I researched bedding both here and through google. I picked organic cedar mulch from a garden/livestock center. I was told this was safe as it's ground cedar and is all organic, not treated. Now I've read some folks say it's dangerous while others use this same bedding. My chickens will be two months when I bring them home. They don't have this in their house, but in their run as a deep litter filler. They have hay in their nest. Any thoughts. I have found posts that go both ways which makes it confusing for a newbie.
The oil in cedar adversely affects the respitory system of birds. While you can use cedar boards to build coops, the toxic fumes outgas quickly, it's unadviseable to use cedar shaving as much more of the toxic fumes are freed. Cedar mulch should not be as toxic as shavings but I would watch your birds closely for any signs of respitory distress.
Is this for indoors or outdoors?

Outdoors it is absolutely undebatably totally fine (although kind of expensive

Indoors it is maybe questionable and probably better avoided (but not "OMG, get it out of there!"), for two reasons actually.

First, because cedar fumes are theoretically bad for the respiratory system. That is, they are definitely bad *in a lab setting*, but it is not clear that they harm chickens very often IN THE REAL WORLD. Plenty of people have used cedar shavings for years and years and years without problem, and in fact commercial broiler barns frequently use them as bedding (and before you get all 'oh well they mistreat their chickens', remember that anything that causes ANY extra mortality tends to get frowned on b/c they are operating on such a wafer-thin profit margin; although it is also true their chickens are only there for 4-6 wks so not getting longterm exposure). Since lots of people use it with no detectible problems and it is rare to hear of anyone *with* an identifiable problem from cedar shavings (and that tends to be people with day-old chicks in poorly ventilated brooders full o' cedar), personally I do not see it as being this big huge OMG scary risk that a lot of people on this forum like to think. Still, since we know that the volatile oils that come off cedar are NOT good for you, if you can avoid it, probably better to, especially if there is any question about how freely-ventilated your coop is.

And second, because *mulch* generally makes lousy bedding/floor-litter. It is not absorbant at all, does not compost well, is hard to spot-clean compared to shavings or chopped straw, and egregiously expensive. Mulch is fine in the run (with some caveats -- see my 'fix a muddy run' page, link in .sig below) but just does not really do a good job with the functions you want as *indoor* litter.

If it were me, I would either haul it out now before it gets too mucky and use it on my garden beds instead; or at least when it comes time to clean it out I'd switch to something else.

JMHO, good luck, have fun,

This is for outside in the coop's run. I can definitely change it out after it gets soiled. It was about $15 for a very small run and then the chickens will have a larger yard to play in which currently has weeks, some rock and dirt. We're in the very beginning stages of converting our wasted rock backyard into a functioning and enjoyable space. Ha ha.
As long as it doesn't burn your nose and eyes when you stick your head at chicken level, it'll be fine. Cedar is bad when it is fresh and the fumes collect up in a small space like a brooder. Doesn't kill them, just makes them susceptible to infections.
Thanks SilkiChicken, that totally answered my question. It just smells like wood. Now, the raised planters that I just bought smell like crazy so this must be the difference between treated and untreated. Thank you for easing my mind a bit. I want my girls to have a good long life.

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