1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Pine shavings, cedar shavings or paper towels in brooders? Dog crate?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by JillsChicks, Jun 17, 2007.

  1. JillsChicks

    JillsChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    110
    0
    129
    May 31, 2007
    Western NY
    I've read one one source that cedar should not be used. Why?

    I've read on another that paper towels should be used for lining brooders until the chicks are over two weeks old, otherwise they might eat them?! Is it better to start with paper towels than pine shavings?

    Also, if I use a dog kennel for my brooder (which I've attached 1" chicken wire to) will this be warm enough with the lamp in place?
     
  2. Poultryisgood

    Poultryisgood Cooped Up

    56
    0
    39
    Jun 15, 2007
    If you have Several Chicks it will be plenty warm enough and as far as the bedding Paper towels or even news paper! good luck with the little ones
     
  3. 4myHennyPenny

    4myHennyPenny Chillin' With My Peeps

    166
    0
    129
    Jun 4, 2007
    Colorado
    I'm setting up my brooder right now, so I've just read some about this.

    The resins in cedar (and in pine, though less so) have been shown to cause respiratory irritation/illness/disease both in lab animals and in humans working with the wood. Additionally, they found that they caused damage to the liver which could result in death. (You might want to google it for the specifics: can't remember if cancer was involved, though I think it was.)

    Anyhow, this is why they firmly recommend avoiding cedar bedding. While kiln dried pine supposedly has fewer negative effects than cedar, they are not negligible. For this reason, some now recommend using alternatives such as apsen, recycled newspaper, etc.

    As for when they are new chicks, I read that they can confuse the bedding with their food in the first few days and ingest it. A few resources recommended covering your bedding (so I believe it's still underneath there) with paper towels or newspaper for at least the first 3 days while chicks figure out the feeder.

    On the forum and in my reading, they suggested setting up the brooder the day ahead of time to be sure that you have everything you will need and that the temperature is regulated correctly.

    Again, I'm new at this myself, so hopefully those with more experience can correct me where I'm mistaken and enlighten us both. Good luck![​IMG]
     
  4. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    5,719
    42
    283
    May 8, 2007
    Wisconsin
    Young chicks need warmth and protection from drafts. A dog crate/kennel works fine as a brooder. If it's one of the wire ones, then you should put something solid around the bottom, as a draft guard. Strips of cardboard would work fine.

    The chicks only need the paper towels over the litter for the first couple of days. It's good to sprinkle some of the food on the paper towels at first, since it's instinctual for them to peck at any tiny bit on the ground. After they learn to recognize the chick starter as food and how to use the feeders, you can take out the paper towels. Since I'm only brooding a few chicks this time, instead of 50, I didn't even use any litter the first couple of days. I just used the paper towels.

    I think there's a risk of them developing leg problems, if you have them on a surface that's too smooth when they're young. When they first start out, they just don't have their muscle and skeletal strength or their balance developed, yet. Paper towels have a rougher surface that gives them a little more grip, than some other papers. It keeps their legs from sliding out from under them.

    4myHennyPenny gave a great description of the problem with cedar and raw pine. Pine litter causes me breathing problems, so I'm using aspen at the moment. It's working great for me and the chicks love it.

    Good luck with your chicks!
     
  5. Barb Schuetz

    Barb Schuetz Chillin' With My Peeps

    182
    0
    129
    May 24, 2007
    Viroqua, WI
    I started out by using empty feed bags cut in half with a layer of paper towel on top. It work fine except I was changing it out twice a day. Then someone suggest straw- it works awesome! It's not slippery for the chicks and all I have to do is add a little fresh once a day and I chang it outevery other or every two days.
     
  6. 4myHennyPenny

    4myHennyPenny Chillin' With My Peeps

    166
    0
    129
    Jun 4, 2007
    Colorado
    Quote:Didn't know the tip about sprinkling some of the food onto their bedding; makes sense because they like to scratch. Also, thanks for the tip on using just the paper towels for a few days if you only have a few chicks; I'll only have 3-4, so think I'll try that.

    I read on another post somewhere about using the pine pellets for stoves as the chicks bedding. Has anyone else tried them? I've picked some up, but I haven't opened the bag yet to see what they look like. They felt smallish (larger than a pea); I guess I was just expecting something a little bigger. Anyhow, it got me to wondering whether the chicks would try to eat them. Also, because they don't have the same give as shavings or straw, I'm wondering if they'd be too hard for young chicks to walk on?

    Anyone using the pellets have any observations to offer?
     
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    5,719
    42
    283
    May 8, 2007
    Wisconsin
    Because of my problems with pine, I used a type of pelleted bedding for my guinea pigs. I think it was Cat Country and was a byproduct of growing grain. I don't think pellets are as nice for little feet as shavings are. They're lumpier and not as soft to lay down in. Chicks enjoy scratching around in, nestling down into and even dust bathing in shavings. That's why I went with aspen.

    Chicks have been raised successfully on a lot of different materials. People like different things for different reasons. And -gasp- chicks don't have to live totally pampered lives 24/7, either! [​IMG]

    I really, really liked the pellets in my rabbit's litter box, as it allowed the urine to run down into the bottom to be absorbed and kept the top pleasantly dry. They did a fantastic job of absorbing large amounts of urine and there was no ammonia odor.
     
  8. stilwellchick

    stilwellchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    290
    6
    141
    Jun 16, 2007
    Stilwell, KS
    The cedar oil in cedar shavings is not good for very young chicks. You can use paper towels for the first few days or the puppy training pads they sell at Walmart. They learn fast what is food and what is not and you can switch over to pine shavings which helps control odor better than straw. Newspaper is too slick and they can get splay legged from slick surfaces. Some people also use an old sheet or old towel on top of shavings for a couple of days then throw away. This has worked has always worked well for me, hope it helps.
     
  9. JillsChicks

    JillsChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    110
    0
    129
    May 31, 2007
    Western NY
    Thank you for everyone's great responses.

    I asked about this because my girlfriend's child brought two day old chicks from her classroom incubation project this June. In three days the chicks were dead. My friend had added antibiotics to the drinking water, put marbles in the waterer, had a heat lamp, crumbles and cedar shavings (which the guy at the farm store said to use...) They always appeared happy and healthy until the last day, then gone. One of my theories was the cedar shavings.
     
  10. dangerouschicken

    dangerouschicken Will Barter For Coffee

    2,407
    12
    213
    May 6, 2007
    Columbia Gorge, OR
    Repeat after me: No cedar, just pine.

    Sorry they had to go that way. That guy should be fired.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2007

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by