Shavings vs. sawdust

joshlgriffin

In the Brooder
Dec 21, 2015
7
0
25
Hi,

I recently brought home a barrel full of sawdust to put in my coop. Some of it is as large typical commercial shavings, but some is dust. Any chance of the dust being too fine? Any concerns I should have? Any types of wood I absolutely need to avoid?

Thanks!
 

Egghead_Jr

Crowing
10 Years
Oct 16, 2010
7,482
3,548
436
NEK, VT
Screen it if you've some spare hardware cloth lying about or use a lawn rake to scoop it creating a pile of larger usable shavings and leaving a pile of dust. Chickens like to scratch about in their coop and though I expect some dust created by that wouldn't put wood fines in the coop.
 

Cheep N Peep

Songster
Apr 9, 2015
368
214
146
Castle Rock, Colorado
My Coop
My Coop
I used pellitzed horse bedding (saw dust) for a while, but for me the problems outweighed the benefits. The chickens packed it down very quickly, and the bedding was almost as hard as the floor under neath it. Any time they flapped their wings, the loose, to-fine-to-pack-down dust would come swirling up and choke me. It was very absorbant, lasted a very long time, especcially if you kept it as pellets and let it degrade into sawdust on it's own. The chickens did not eat it, although I did check them for compacted crop regularly when thy were little. (They never got it.) But the sawdust floated between to extremes: If it was dry, it was overwhelmingly dusty. If it was damp, it moldered and packed down even more easily... or turned into cement.

It would be good for feather-footed bantams andshow birds in a coop with large windows that are open all the time, and the waterer is not in the coop, but I am much happier with shavings.

Avoid cedar woods. The fumes can irritate a chicken's respitory system and kill chicks.
 

Old Philosopher

Songster
Jan 13, 2016
250
162
137
Rocky Mountain Trench
Good thread!
Last Spring I switched from straw to shavings for litter in the coop. I will never go back to straw!
My rearing pen typically holds up to 20 birds to maturity. With straw, I was swamping out a soupy mess every couple of weeks. Last year, the birds got through the whole cycle, with me only having to "top coat" the bedding once. When I cleaned out the pen, the floor was still dry underneath. The other blessing was the used litter came out one shovel full at a time, and not in a woven mass the way straw did.
My feed store sells a compressed bale of shavings that is 3 cu yds that expand to 11 yds of bedding. The price is under $9.00! Cost wise, it's a no-brainer.
One thing I feel is important: the shavings I use are hardwood shavings. I stay away from cedar or pine shavings/sawdust because of the resins in them. When they get wet they can burn the animal's feet. I learned the hard way with dogs.
All shavings are not created equal. I look for material that is between 1/4" and 1/2" diameter. Any smaller, you get too much dust, any bigger and the birds don't like the feel of it. As a matter of fact, I had to remove the shavings from my ducks' shelter and replace it with straw. The ducks would absolutely refuse to walk on the shavings.
Cost, absorbency, ease of cleanup all make shavings the hands down winner in my book.
As to the title of this thread, I would stay away from plain sawdust, for all the negative reasons already addressed in other posts. I have an unlimited source of sawdust, but it is too fine, contains evergreen resins, and just turns to wooden mud over time.
FWIW...YMMV.
 
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Hokum Coco

Crowing
8 Years
Dec 6, 2012
4,274
3,643
477
New Brunswick,Canada
Hi,

I recently brought home a barrel full of sawdust to put in my coop. Some of it is as large typical commercial shavings, but some is dust. Any chance of the dust being too fine? Any concerns I should have? Any types of wood I absolutely need to avoid?

Thanks!

In a perfect world I use wood shavings sold in a bale at my local feed store (they are my first choice.) That being said some times they are not available and I have used wood pellets and even peat moss with no ill effects even though the others are more dusty.

I have been keeping birds for decades.
 
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joshlgriffin

In the Brooder
Dec 21, 2015
7
0
25
I used pellitzed horse bedding (saw dust) for a while, but for me the problems outweighed the benefits. The chickens packed it down very quickly, and the bedding was almost as hard as the floor under neath it. Any time they flapped their wings, the loose, to-fine-to-pack-down dust would come swirling up and choke me. It was very absorbant, lasted a very long time, especcially if you kept it as pellets and let it degrade into sawdust on it's own. The chickens did not eat it, although I did check them for compacted crop regularly when thy were little. (They never got it.) But the sawdust floated between to extremes: If it was dry, it was overwhelmingly dusty. If it was damp, it moldered and packed down even more easily... or turned into cement.

It would be good for feather-footed bantams andshow birds in a coop with large windows that are open all the time, and the waterer is not in the coop, but I am much happier with shavings.

Avoid cedar woods. The fumes can irritate a chicken's respitory system and kill chicks.


I've spoken with the owner of the cabinet shop and they never use anything other than maple and oak. He said he'll let me know if they use anything different (which they haven't in 12 yrs) and I'll always be sure to ask.

Thanks to everyone for the replies!
 

Wyorp Rock

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Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
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I've spoken with the owner of the cabinet shop and they never use anything other than maple and oak. He said he'll let me know if they use anything different (which they haven't in 12 yrs) and I'll always be sure to ask.

Thanks to everyone for the replies!
Sounds like it is at least worth the try! If its too dusty or fine, I like the idea that @Egghead Jr gave, maybe sift or screen it.
I'm always looking for alternatives, I currently use shavings in the coop, but mine absolutely love pine needles and leaves in the run. Next year I'm going to try to bag more so I have at least enough for the nesting boxes and to spread a little in the coop here and there. They smell good too.
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