The truth about red cedar bedding.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by sugarbush, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. sugarbush

    sugarbush Songster

    Jul 24, 2008
    Lexington KY
    I want to lay to rest some of the rumors about red cedar bedding and bedding in general.
    Is red cedar bedding toxic to chickens?

    Answer: Western red cedar and Eastern white cedar have large concentrations of Plicatic acid which when breathed in can cause asthma in all animals. Most woods contain Plicatic acid, cedars more so than others, but pine also has it. Pine also has abietic acids which also causes asthma and lung disease. Eastern red cedar on the otherhand is not a cedar, it is a juniper and contains less plicatic acid than true cedars. The scent of the cedar is not what is toxic to your is the hydrocarbon acids that are admitted into the air as the bedding breaks down.

    Good ventilation is the answer in keeping your animals safe from the hydrocarbons being admitted from their bedding material. Don't avoid cedar beddings for fear it will harm you chickens. When mixed into other bedding material and with good ventilation it is very useful in mite control and keeping the coop smelling clean.
    1 person likes this.

  2. Yup! And ask the guy at the feed store if that bag of shavings is Eastern Red Cedar, or Western Red Cedar, or not cedar at all, and I promise you he's going to look at you with a blank stare....
  3. sugarbush

    sugarbush Songster

    Jul 24, 2008
    Lexington KY
    What difference does it make if the bag of pine shavings you buy instead is going to emit hydrocarbons just like the cedar?
    The key is to have plenty of ventilation no matter what wood bedding product you use.

    Another option is to turn the bag over and see where it was processed at....Western Red Cedar does not grow in Eastern states.....
  4. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Pine shavings do not emit nearly the amount of hydrocarbons as cedar - any type - does. Why take a chance? Especially since Pine is typically so much more readily available?
  5. B. Saffles Farms

    B. Saffles Farms Mr. Yappy Chickenizer

    Nov 23, 2008
    Madisonville, TN
    Sugarbush is right, I have used cedar shavings in well ventilated areas without any problems.
    ETA: I use pine shaving because its easier to find and cheaper. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2009

  6. toletiquesbysam

    toletiquesbysam Songster

    Sep 19, 2008
    Personally, I will continue to avoid it, better to be safe then sorry!!
  7. sugarbush

    sugarbush Songster

    Jul 24, 2008
    Lexington KY
    Quote:I just want to point out that the amount is irrelevant in an area of poor ventilation.....

    Would you feel more safe living in a house with asbestos only as floor tile than living in one that has asbestos on the water pipes and floor tiles?
    Long term exposure is long term exposure....regardless of the amount.

    A person recieving cigarette smoke second hand is at just as much risk over time of developing lung cancer as the person actually smoking the cigarette. Obviously the person smoking the cigarette is getting a higher concentration, but the risk for the other person is still there...

    Now back to pine vs cedar: In the city cedar is more readily available because it is often all that a pet shop has. After all; this is BACK yard chickens...not the Back 40 chickens [​IMG] I am presenting the information for those who can't run down the road to a local feed store other than TSC if they are lucky... and TSC around here often only have cedar shavings...
  8. patti17340

    patti17340 In the Brooder

    Mar 7, 2013
    Littlestown, Pa
    I have a very well ventilated coop and use a mix of pine and cedar in my coop for the past 3 years. for every bale of pine chips I use 1/2 bale of cedar... I have 23 hens and use a deep litter mulch in the colder months. My hens are outside most of the day so only spend sleeping time in the coop up on the roost. I have never had a sick hen. So I am pretty sure I am doing something right.
  9. Kibi78704

    Kibi78704 In the Brooder

    Apr 12, 2012
    Sequim, WA
    I recently moved to the Olympic Peninsula in far NW WA. I just had 20 trees cut down (a small fraction of the trees on my property, but even so it was a difficult decision); 19 of those trees were Thuja plicata or western red cedar, which is NOT a true cedar, but is related to them. The limbs were put through a chipper, and I now have mounds of the chips.
    I am in the process of building a high-security covered outdoor pen for my ducks and geese, and would like to use some of the huge pile of chips as ground cover in the pen, but not at the expense of my birds' health. In the winter, the ground is very soggy and I want to make it drier for the birds.
    My ducklings and goslings will arrive in about six weeks. After they feather out, they will be in tractors during the day, but in the high-security pen at night. It is in this pen that I hope to put down a thick layer of wood chips.

    I have never used red cedar with any of my flocks before, so I am a bit cautious about using it. On the other hand, I have piles and piles of the stuff on my property now.

    Does anyone have any comments about using western red cedar chips in outdoor pens?
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2016

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