Shredded pine needles or just plain pine needles - ok for litter?


In the Brooder
9 Years
Jan 22, 2011
Golden, CO
I am moving into a place with a ***TON*** of pine needles.
I was thinking of shredding them with my new WORX mulcher and adding them to my pine shavings for my chickens.
What are your thoughts on this?

1. Is it ok to do this?
2. If so, should I use full ponderosa pine needles and add them to the pine shaving mix, or should I mulch them first?
That's a fair amount of work, but what's the point of it? What are you thinking that the pine needles will add to the shavings? I don't think they will add any absorbancy, and if you shred them, you'll be releasing what oils there are in the pine. I've read that pine oil can be a respiratory irritant. Personally, I wouldn't risk it.

On the other hand, I think the chickens would enjoy scratching around in pine needles on the ground, just like they enjoy scratching around in tree leaves. Why not toss some into the run?
There will most likely be a ton on the run, as I am on the outskirts of a forest and we have so many pine trees.
I was thinking that it would cut down on the cost of the pine shavings for their litter, and utilize something on my property that I have so much of.
I would think it'd depend on how "pitchy" they are. We were thinking of building our coop at the edge of the pines to give the ladies cover from the flying predators. But the trees here drop so many globs of pitch in the spring and summer (it's bad enough getting the stuff off the car!), it'd be too much of a problem on the feathers and feet. So we're building in a different spot. Also- we will have not have electricity in the coop so we needed something in the sun for winter.

Maybe someone here has used pine needles and it isn't a problem. I'm interested in seeing other responses on the matter.
Hmm. I don't use pine shavings as litter (I use sand instead). But I think the theory of using shavings as litter is that it's absorbant, it composts well if you're using the deep litter method, and in winter it provides some insulating value. There may be other reasons, but these are the ones that come to mind readily.

I don't think pine needles meet any of these criteria, but certainly you could try mixing them in and see if it helps or hinders. Aside from the pine oil issue (which I don't think comes into play much if you don't grind up the needles), I don't see any real downside, other than the work to collect the needles and mix them in.
i save my pine needles and some leaves and in the winter and when it gets sloppy in the run, I dump a wheelbarrow load or 2 into the pen outside. The chickens love it and dig through it like it was treasure. I do not use it in the coop as I think it would be hard to keep clean but outside it works great and they are white pine needles I do not shred them or process them in any way. Alot of them get picked up when I clean the pen.

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