Use of PINE shavings

Chicken Rustler

Grabs em n runs
10 Years
Feb 17, 2009
9,388
62
311
Ethel, Washington
My Coop
Let me start by saying I hope this is in the right place and if not please feel free to move it or tell me where it should be.
I have seen so many times everybody says "PINE SHAVINGS". Is there a reason for not using "FIR" shavings. Now I do know that pine smells better and will decompose faster. Is there a chicken health reason for not using fir? I ask because I have lots of fir and its free, but to get pine I would have to buy it and if you take a look at my coop and how I built it you will know that I am a cheapskate. The only price better than free is if they are paying me to take it away !!!
https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=148966
 

speckledhen

Intentional Solitude
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Feb 3, 2007
78,649
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Blue Ridge Mtns. of North Georgia
The problem is with highly aromatic shavings like cedar, which is toxic to chickens, especially the youngsters. I do put a handful under the nest straw to deter bugs, but not enough to be an issue. That's why pine. I'd think fir wouldnt be as bad as cedar, but it's more expensive than pine, I think.
 

Chicken Rustler

Grabs em n runs
10 Years
Feb 17, 2009
9,388
62
311
Ethel, Washington
My Coop
Thank you speckledhen. I know cedar is not good. We used it with our goats but that is way different and we did it to smell better and help with bugs. I have fir in with my chicks and in the bottom of my nest boxes then I have shredded paper and the girls seem to like it. I figure since I generate a considerable amount of shredded I would use it then clean it out and use it in the garden.
 

GardenerGal

Songster
11 Years
Dec 20, 2008
1,244
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Massachusetts
Pine shavings are just the most commonly mentioned because they're often the most easily available and cheapest shavings. In some places it's the only choice other than cedar shavings and those recycled paper pellets (which my poultry would likely eat!) for pet cages.

Any non-aromatic (aromatic = contains "essential oils") shavings would be fine I'm sure.
 
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Chicken Rustler

Grabs em n runs
10 Years
Feb 17, 2009
9,388
62
311
Ethel, Washington
My Coop
Thank you all so much for your help. I totally understand the pine since it's cheaper. But since I have a good free supply of fir and can save nearly all of the sawdust when I cut firewood that is what I will be using. Most of my firewood is fir but there is also a little alder, maple and cherry mixed in. My recently built coop / run has several inches of wood chips (delivered by the PUD ) which has been there several years so all the smelly is gone and now it is just fun stuff for the girls to scratch in.
Rob
 

Akane

Crowing
11 Years
Jun 15, 2008
4,654
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Nope there is no real reason. I actually prefer to get spruce shavings when I can. Spruce has even less of the dangerous oils than pine. All softwood shavings have the same oils it's just in different amounts with cedar having far more than most. Pine is just common. It's hard to find anything else. If you wanted something without oils you'd have to go to hardwood shavings like aspen but those are more expensive and tend to vary greatly in quality.
 

GardenerGal

Songster
11 Years
Dec 20, 2008
1,244
92
221
Massachusetts
Quote:You're right of course. All of the conifers/needled trees have the oils, but cedar's (really a juniper) seems to be stronger than most other evergreens or conifers, and has been noted to have toxic effects on some animals.
 

Akane

Crowing
11 Years
Jun 15, 2008
4,654
51
251
All of those trees have been noted to have toxic effects. Even with pine you can test higher liver enzymes and see respiratory problems in more sensitive animals or people. Cedar is just a much greater concentration than any others and shows results more immediately because of it.
 

GardenerGal

Songster
11 Years
Dec 20, 2008
1,244
92
221
Massachusetts
Quote:Yes, I know.

Yet, many people have kept livestock and poultry on pine shavings for decades with no ill effects. In fact, literally, decades. I've had geese that lived over 25 years, and horses to 30 or more... heck...even guinea pigs who lived to be 10 years old... with no other bedding but pine shavings. Large shavings tend to have less dust than smaller, finer ones (avoid fluffy stuff). Good ventilation and hygiene practices, getting the animals outside during the day whenever possible, etc. keeps them from ODing on anything toxic I'm sure.

If we wanted to split hairs, I'm sure we'd realize that the typical home we people live in is a toxic wasteland of resins, formaldyhyde and other substances degassing daily into our household atmopshere. And don't even start on dust mites.

Yet, humans in such an environment routinely live into their 80s, 90s and even 100s.

So, take all the talk of toxicity with a grain of (iodized) salt. If anyone notices chickens dropping dead en masse, a post mortem might reveal excess enzymes connected with volitile oils. But more likely it's something else.
 

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