Spruce and Cottonwood shavings?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by LovinAK, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. LovinAK

    LovinAK Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi, I am new to the world of raising chickens. In fact, we are anxiously awaiting our first group of day-old baby chicks in April from Murray McMurray hatchery. I live in Alaska and pre-packaged pine shavings are crazy expensive and not readily available up here. What is available in abundance is Spruce and Cottonwood shavings. I actually found a sawmill that can provide us with enough to last until the end of time ;). However, I am reading a lot about bedding and find that everyone's go-to is pine. I do not want to go broke buying pine shavings when I have two other types readily available....I also don't want to harm my chickens if there are toxins in these types of shavings. I will not be using cedar so that's not an issue. Anyone have any thoughts on using Spruce and Cottonwood shavings for their chickens? Any help is greatly appreciated! Thank you :)
     
  2. wolfrosie

    wolfrosie Out Of The Brooder

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    I think the spruce would be fine but I know that cottonwood is toxic to most animals. Horses, dogs, rabbits, you name it, and I do not dare to touch anything on my poisonous-to-animals list, even if it's just for the humans.

    You might also want to look into what kind of spruce the shavings is made from because some are known to be toxic, but there are also some that are safe for animals to nibble on.

    I use pine for my chickens as it's the only thing widely available in my area but in the future I would prefer to look for a more environmentally friendly shavings. Pine and cedar both release fumes, but it only causes damage through prolonged exposure, as tested on rabbits and other small animals-> who are critters not normally removed from their small confines of cages, and it was shown that the ones raised on pine/cedar lived only a couple years shorter than the ones who were raised on a different litter, and in a well ventilated area I would think that it would not do too much harm. PS - pine proved to be slightly better than cedar in that study I read about, but not by too much.
    Aspen is especially good and virtually free of toxins or chemicals! If you have a delicate smaller creature with sensitive nostrils, aspen shavings is usually the preferred choice compared to all others. But they're normally only found in the small litter bags you see in pet stores, which as you know is not very ideal on the wallet. But like I said, I haven't looked into where to find bigger bags much yet so if you take a look before me let me know what you find?
    There are also some other types of edible toxin free litters, some that I plan to use for my horses except like I said, they usually only sell cedar or pine stuff here. So I will have to order those special ones that I would want online later.
    I think one of them is pellets made out of straw? & another one was grass. So entirely safe. You might want to do some more research yourself as it's late right now and my head is all jumbled up, lol. Good luck to you with your new baby chickens!
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2015
  3. LovinAK

    LovinAK Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you so much! I had no idea Cottonwood was toxic. And thank you for the quick reply...I won't be picking up the shavings from the lumber mill, then. I used to have ducks and used only straw for them with no problems other than it became messy pretty fast. I don't mind doing the work as far as clean up and so I might just stick with what's local and inexpensive and that would be straw for me. Thank you again for the info!
     
  4. FridayYet

    FridayYet Innocent Bystander

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    Hello,

    I live in an area with huge cottonwood trees. Where did you get the information that cottonwood was toxic to animals? I'd like to do some research.

    Thank you!
     
  5. FridayYet

    FridayYet Innocent Bystander

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    Not only do I live near a huge cottonwood forest (Bosque), but our village also has a huge amount of horses. Most of the corrals near the river have huge cottonwoods, and there are drifts of cottonwood leaves everywhere. I see goats munching on cottonwood cuttings and llamas walking through drifts of leaves.

    My dogs chew on dropped cottonwood branches, and I have cottonwood leaves in my compost and shredded in the chicken run. I have 5 huge trees on my property.

    It's not on the ASPCA list of toxic plants, either. Google searching showed me articles where pioneers used leaves and branches for animal fodder and made tea out of cottonwood.

    I'd really like to know more about toxicity. All parts of the tree? Leaves, Twigs, Seeds?

    Thanks for any information you can share.
     
  6. LovinAK

    LovinAK Out Of The Brooder

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    I just did a little research because I, too, live in an area with a lot of Cottonwood trees. According to all my searches, especially those of outdoor survival state that it's actually a non-toxic edible (plant). The inner bark of both Cottonwood (also known as balsam poplar) and Spruce trees can be dried, then ground up and eaten as a survival food that is rich in Vit. C. The Cottonwood up here is all over and the "cotton" floating in the air is so thick at times it looks like a snow globe! No one has died of this that I'm aware of, although I know some can be allergic.
    After looking into it, I think I'll stick to my original plan of using Cottonwood and Spruce shavings mixed with my straw for Deep Litter Method this winter. This will be a trial run so I will keep everyone posted as to how it turns out.
    I'd rather give it shot and still have money in my pocket rather than going broke buying pine from out of state. My barn has a lot of ventilation and I've purchased cold hardy breeds so (fingers crossed) hopefully they will do alright.
     
  7. wolfrosie

    wolfrosie Out Of The Brooder

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    I did a lot of research a long time ago and made up a mental list and notes of all the things that I found that were considered toxic to animals, or maybe just some animals- like dogs with grapes. Back then I saw cottonwood mentioned several times.
    It is possible that I've mistaken it for something else that's very similar. Or that new research was done in that time-frame. I just did some more research and it appears that cottonwood is safe!
    My bad [​IMG]
    I probably mistook it for something else.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015

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