Using Shredded Paper for Coop Litter - As Good As Wood Chips?

gtaus

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For the past 2 years, I have been using wood chips as the base of my dry deep litter in my chicken coop. The wood chips work great and I highly recommend them for anyone considering the deep litter method. This year, however, I am trying a twist on the idea. After I did my fall cleaning of the coop, removing all my wood chips for a fresh base to carry me over the winter, I decided to use my shredded paper I had saved in some big bags. So far, I have so say, I am very pleased with my results.

First of all, I try to minimize garbage we haul to the landfill. I came across a used 12 sheet paper shredder at our local thrift store for $5.00. A new model of that brand costs about $80. I had smaller shredders at home, about 5-8 sheets, but thought that a 12 sheet shredder for $5.00 was a good deal and would allow me to shred more and heavier types of paper. Previously, I have been shredding most of our paper at home and throwing it in compost piles with greens. But now that I have chickens, I was wondering if I could use shredded paper in the coop as litter.

I find that normal office paper and most junk mail shreds up fine. But you have to be sure to remove any plastic windows and staples. I don't want my chickens eating that stuff, or eventually adding plastic or staples mixed into my garden as compost. I also shred all our light cardboard boxes, like cereal boxes, and find that mixing that light cardboard along with normal office paper makes a better litter mix. I can also shred normal box cardboard with my 12 sheet shredder, but I have to cut the heavy cardboard into strips and feed it down the "credit card" slot on the shredder. But my 12 sheet shredder eats up the normal cardboard boxes we get from Amazon shipments.

I also shred our old newspapers, but I find the quality of newspapers to be very low compared to the other papers. It comes out all stringy and wraps around the shredder rollers. It seems to mat down more easily than the other types of shredded paper. I would not recommend using only shredded newspaper, but it works OK in the mix with all the other types of shredded paper.

I have a normal sized 13 gallon kitchen waste basket that I fill up with shredded paper maybe every 2 weeks. This is just the right amount for me to dump on top of the older shredded paper in the coop. I just dump it in a pile and let the chickens spread it out. Seems to work good for me. I have sometimes dumped the pile underneath their roost, as that is mainly where all the chicken poo accumulates, but I don't know if that is necessary. My goal is to always let the chickens do most of the work. They seem to like it, and I don't mind less work to do for myself. Sometimes I'll throw some chicken scratch into an area that I want the chickens to turn over the litter. As they scratch and peck for the chicken scratch, they turn over and mix up the shredded paper. The heavier, soiled paper works it way down to the bottom leaving the fresher paper on top.

So far, for about 2 months, I have not been able to detect any smell in the coop. So, from that aspect, I think the shredded paper is working as good as my wood chips I used the past 2 years. We will see how well it holds up as our winter is just getting started. I probably won't really know if this was a success or not until next spring, when the poo thaws out....

Well, I wanted to post this thread as something to consider as coop litter for those who do not have access to free wood chips. One thing I know is that come spring, when I clean out the shredded paper and dump it into my chicken run composting system, is that the shredded paper will turn into compost much, much, faster than my wood chips. What a better way to get rid of all that junk mail and old bills than to shred them up, let the chickens poo on them, and then bury them in the garden to grow some good people food?

Would love to hear any comments, pro or con, on using shredded paper with your chickens. Also, would really like to hear if there is a better way to shred old newspapers. I really don't like the way the newspapers can muck up the rollers on my shredder. Thanks.
 

gtaus

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I'm thinking matted stinky mess of paper.

Exactly what I thought would happen, too.

But, to my surprise, it's not a matted stinky mess of paper. I think maybe the reason is because I mix in the shredded light cardboard which gives the shredded paper litter mix a more hardy feel. If it was just plain office paper, then maybe it would just mat down and stink. So far, no matting down and no stinky mess.
 
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mowin

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Exactly what I thought would happen, too.

But, to my surprise, it's not a matted stinky mess of paper. I think maybe the reason is because I mix in the shredded light cardboard which gives the shredded paper litter mix a more hardy feel. If it was just plain office paper, then maybe it just mat down and stink. So far, no matting down and no stinky mess.
I guess the conditions and how it's mixed as well as the outside weather would effect the paper.
Glad it's working for you. I definitely wouldn't try it knowing my conditions.
 

Sally PB

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:caf

I have thought about using shredded paper. I haven't because of the "matted, stinky mess" possibility.

We have a way to recycle the paper, corrugate, and "boxboard" (cereal box like stuff). But there are some piles of paper that I want to shred, because they have person info on them, so I haven't taken them to be recycled.

I might try a small pile to see how it goes.

One question, though... any issues with the chickens eating it? That was my other concern. "Oh, look, girls! Bright colored bits! I wonder if they taste good? Not that one... not that one... not that one..."
 

gtaus

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I definitely wouldn't try it knowing my conditions.

Yeah, kind of my point here in that this was a test for me, too. I did not think shredded paper would work well for me, but, so far, it is. Again, this is inside my chicken coop and everything remains dry, other than where the chickens poo. I know that when I dump the paper shreds outside, they compost in no time.
 

gtaus

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We have a way to recycle the paper, corrugate, and "boxboard" (cereal box like stuff). But there are some piles of paper that I want to shred, because they have person info on them, so I haven't taken them to be recycled.

Well, we have all those paper recycling bins here, too. But I still have to load them up in the car/truck and haul them off to the recycle bins. Instead of doing that, I now just shred the paper as it comes in and gets used up, and then dump a kitchen garbage bag full of paper shreds into the coop about every 2 weeks. Saves me the time and effort from taking that to the recycle center, plus I use it for the chickens and then compost it down for the gardens. I figure out that I come out way ahead that way.

One question, though... any issues with the chickens eating it? That was my other concern. "Oh, look, girls! Bright colored bits! I wonder if they taste good? Not that one... not that one... not that one..."

I have never seen any of my chickens eating the paper shreds. Does it happen? I don't know. But they seem to show little interest in shreds I have been using as litter. So, I'm not very concerned about them eating paper shreds.

I might try a small pile to see how it goes.

We all live in different places and have different setups for our chickens. I had no expectations that paper shreds would work for me, but they are, so far, and that is why I posted this thread.

As I have said in other threads, I am a big fan of wood chips and have both a big gas chipper and a smaller electric chipper that I use for yard cleanup. The wood chips get thrown into the chicken coop and/or chicken run and recycled that way. We used to load up all that wood debris and haul it off to the landfill, or maybe pile it up and set it on fire. But since I got my chickens, I figure I am better off trying to use that material at home first.

But my chippers get stored in the shed for the winter, so I will not be making any wood chips at home until next spring. Also, the landfill where I get free wood chips outside is frozen solid until spring. So that is not an option, either. But I can shred paper year round and thought this year I would try paper shreds instead of wood chips in the coop as my deep litter. If the paper shreds end up not working, I still have a large pile of wood chips here at home for use in the coop. I also have bags full of dry leaves ready to use in the coop, if needed.

There are a few YouTube videos of guys using paper shreds as coop litter, but not very many videos. I am not saying that paper shreds is the best litter, either, but rather that it might be just good enough for some people and worth considering.

I will admit that I don't much care for the colorful look of all those paper shreds as litter in the coop as compared to the more natural look of wood chips, but the chickens don't care what it looks like. When I clean out the coop and dump the paper shreds into the chicken run compost, I cover them with grass clippings. The shreds compost in almost no time outside with a bit of rain to help the process.

I would encourage you to try a small pile of paper shreds and see if it works for you or not. Again, I think my mix of also using light cardboard in the shreds is maybe why I don't see any matting of my paper shred litter.
 

avjudge

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Oct 20, 2017
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I've been shredding mostly cardboard boxes (brown corrugated Amazon/Chewy/etc. boxes) and some newspaper and cereal-box type cardboard for the last year or so, and plan to use it in the coop when the chickens move into their winter coop, probably in a few weeks.

I have a stall bedded in the paper - horses or llamas aren't regularly kept in the stall but are put in for a few hours or overnight on occasion. So far it seems to be serving the purpose.

I use a 16-sheet shredder that I got from Costco and rip the boxes into strips that will fit into the shredder. If a box has a glossy layer I'll throw it on the shower floor so they get wet through and then separate the layers, hang them over the curtain rod to dry, then shred the brown layers and recycle or burn the glossy layer. Mostly that's because the glossy paper doesn't break down as fast, and the colored bits look bad wherever I spread the manure. (White paper also stands out.) But also, some glossy layers actually have a very thin layer of plastic on top, which I discover when they get wet.

I'm hoping the paper works for the chickens, and I'll have a lot more to report in a few months!
 

RoyalChick

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I use shredded paper in the nest boxes. I was having a broken egg problem and paper was much more absorbent than anything else.
So far I have only shredded that brown packing type paper not office paper.
When it gets soiled I just dump it out on the floor if the coop. From there it makes its way to the run and just disappears along with everything else as it composts down.
Works great.
 

gtaus

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I'm hoping the paper works for the chickens, and I'll have a lot more to report in a few months!

Looking forward to hearing your results. Sounds like a lot of work to separate the cardboard from the plastic. Those boxes I just recycle. But I am trying to use as much of that paper material I can.

I don't have too much cardboard box material to recycle. So I am OK with using my plain old heavy duty scissors to cut the cardboard into strips. If I had lots of heavy cardboard, I think I'd invest in the WORX WX081L 4V ZipSnip Cordless Electric Scissors because I hear they work great for breaking down the cardboard.

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At $40.00 for the ZipSnips, I would have to have a lot more cardboard to cut into strips than I currently get. My old hands have a touch of arthritis, but my wallet is even in more pain......
 

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