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What woods CAN be used as litter and bedding..not SHOULD.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by joeyinSoAustin, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. joeyinSoAustin

    joeyinSoAustin Hatching

    Feb 2, 2014
    South Austin
    Let me open with why I am starting this. I have searched this site, and the web, and haven't found a real definite answer. While researching this I read a lot of threads that focus on just a specific species of wood, or that got derailed into discussions about other litters or litter methods.

    Let me also give some context, to help guide the purpose of this thread:
    I own a carpentry company, and I started keeping chickens. I have been asked a lot by people in Austin, where keeping BYC's is quite popular and common, for wood chips. Now I have my own skin in the game. In the past I have always said "i'm sorry" to folks and that I couldn't guarantee the chips would not be mixed or toxic for their birds. Now I want to know for myself, and others. I make a LOT of chips, and wood [​IMG] love to use, and share them. Finally I am talking CHIPS. These are finely scraped chips that come off of my planers and jointers. It is very similar to what you get in commercially available pine bedding, but about 1/2 the average chip size. I am not thinking of using sawdust off of the table, or other saws.

    Please Note: This is meant to be a discussion of what CAN be used, from the perspective of toxicity, and hazard control. NOT a thread on what should be used, or what is the BEST to use. . I am assuming in this thread that people can make those choices based on experience and research from other threads. I just want to know what wood species CAN work.[​IMG]

    I am open to the "unforeseen" consequences of using some chips, but that is about all.
    P.S.: I am only concerned with litter and bedding, not brooder or breeding.[​IMG]
    P.S.S.: I am currently using pine in litter and nesting, with a little FGDE. The hens run in a dirt run. My compost piles are in there, and they dutifully do their duty of turning them down, til I pile them up. I DO compost my litter, so feel free to post what you may know about what composts well or not. But don't use that as a criteria for excluding a bedding. Lastly, I have really learned that the bedding is a personal thing, regional and cultural ideas play into it. I am just trying to compile GOOD OBJECTIVE INFO HERE.

    These are the species I commonly work with, and ALL species are Kiln dried:

    Poplar (this seems like it would work great)
    Pine (Already know is good, and what I am using now, but by volume I don't produce a lot)
    Cedar (some say never use, some say limited use.. What is the truth?
    Walnut (Pretty good consensus this is a no no.. but what if I just changed out my dust collector, and there is a little mixed in with my next big bag of poplar?)
    Oak (many say steer away from hardwoods but CAN it be used)
    Cherry (No idea)
    Cyprus (not very absorbent, but will it kill or harm my birds?)
    Mahogany (In some cases toxic to humans, I have included it, but will tell you, don't use it)
    Alder (seems like it would be very good)
    Beech (just don't know)
    Ash (hard wood again?)
    Maple (might be less absorbent, but could work?)

    These are the woods I mill regularly. I could avoid the iffy ones, and common sense say error on the side of caution, BUT that is not the point of this thread. It is compile the answer, with regards to chickens specifically, what woods CAN be used, that was so hard for me to search, but I seems many are asking.

    Please add anything you have knowledge of, or experience with.

    And thanks for reading: I am really looking forward to the discussion, and answers.

  2. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    It isn't on your list, but I know Spruce is great.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I would say No to Cedar...the aromatics can be a respiratory problem. Use of Cedar boards in construction is generally not a problem, but chipping it up and releasing the aromatics is another story.

    I've read of folks using Aspen shavings for chickens, widely marketed for reptiles.

    The others might be difficult to get an opinion on, just because they are not widely available and thus not used so no experience. I think hardwoods are generally not as absorbent as softwoods are and again thus not used.

    Will be interesting to see if anyone reads your post carefully and chimes in with some experience that applies to your question.

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