Wood chip and shaving do's and don'ts

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by pdalach, May 31, 2012.

  1. pdalach

    pdalach Hatching

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    I am trying to obtain wood chips from a local saw mill in the hopes of saving some cash.

    The saw mill seems agreeable but mentioned that at times their planar shavings and chips can contain black walnut and maybe cedar. As well, their regular chipper produces wet, not dried, chips with some leaves.

    Can anyone give a fairly comprehensive guide for non-dried, not-pine wood chip use? Can we use possibly wet and possibly cedar/walnut wood chips in the run, if not in the enclosed coop? What if the cedar/walnut amounts are rather dilute? Are there any other types of wood and leaves that chickens need to avoid?

    Thanks for any and all help.
     
  2. pdalach

    Welcome to BYC forum!

    Just a question for your thinking--because I don't know the answers, and maybe some other members will chime in...... aren't the shavings that we buy 'kiln dried' or something? If the shavings were wet, then they could start to decompose and possibly there would be organisms in there that weren't healthy for chickens. Cedar also gives off aromatics that can be bad for chicken respiratory systems.

    I think you would have to make major effort to dry the shavings that you would get......prior to their storage.
     
  3. Chemguy

    Chemguy Songster

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    Welcome!

    I do not know if the pine shavings that many of us use are kiln dried, but they appear to be. Those flakes sure do look like they were planed from green wood and since they're dry when we buy themn they must have been dried. I don't have a reference on-hand, but a search around the forum using terms like "wood chips," "mulch" or even "chipper" might turn up some good leads.

    As for using undried wood chips, the minute any chip leaves the bag and goes on the ground it will absorb moisture and begin to rot. Cedar in a closed coop may give rise to some respiratory problems, as the resin in cedar is an irritant. Some folk won't use pine shavings, preferring aspen instead. I don't believe that black walnut poses any problem. The component responsible for walnuts killing other plants (thujone) is found in small roots and leaves of the tree. It is a good preventative for worms, though chicks could never eat enough to actually be dewormed.

    One concern over using wood chips is the possibility of splinters leading to cases of bumblefoot. I do know that some folk use wood chips without problems like that, but have also heard of some problems.
     
  4. pdalach

    pdalach Hatching

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    Thanks all for the fast replies.

    I suppose I'm not so worried about mulch decomposing in the run...free range chickens forage everywhere (wooded areas included with all sorts of decomposing material) without too much harm. I'd be afraid of the mold etc. inside the enclosed coop, of course. I actually like the idea of buggy much...more critters for the chickens to eat?

    The suggestion to look for "mulch" in the forums is a great idea.

    The concern I had with black walnut is that it kills horses if included in their bedding. Has anyone used it with chickens without ill effect?

    I suppose my hoped-for plan is to use the wet chips in the run and buy the dry pine/aspen for the enclosed coop. They run around the yard most of the day anyways and are rarely in the enclosed coop.

    Anyone with other thoughts?

    Thanks!
     
  5. Chemguy

    Chemguy Songster

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    My coop and run sit in the shade of two walnut trees. Leaves drop in on a fairly regular basis and they're munched up immediately. I've observed no problems. The amount of leaves that make it to the chickens is not large, however.
     
  6. Joe.G

    Joe.G Songster

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    I use, Saw dust, Wood Chips and Bark Mulch from the local saw mill, most of it is pine and hemlock, When I get it is pretty fresh, I don't seem to have any problems and it seems to dry pretty fast spread out on the coop floor.
     
    anthonyk and GranolaLight like this.
  7. peepmommy

    peepmommy Songster

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    Walnut produces a chemical that prevents other trees from growing, horses founder if they eat it or stand on it. I would never put any animal in walnut shavings. I would also discourage red cedar. Many animals get upper respiratory issues from them. I would only use dry chips as well. Mold will grow in wet mulch and who needs that?? Stick with pine and dry! Better be safe! :) Good luck.
     
  8. Beachykeen

    Beachykeen In the Brooder

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    I would strongly recommend kiln dried wood chips, not sand and a popper scooper. Sand can not counter all the ammonia in the poop and sand, in large mounts will not improve soil. Please read " The Small Scale Poltry Flock" by Harvey Ussery for all why fors and whatnots of deep bedding. It simply works.
     
  9. DianaMallory

    DianaMallory Songster

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    I WOULD STRONGLY RECOMMEND SAND! I went from straw to sand it is cheaper, Easier to clean and it fights odors better! And sand is very good in some soils! I scoop the poo every other day and use the droppings in my garden. I just recently changed the sand in my coop and the old sand I put in my run, no more muddy mess! My Hens love it, especially when it comes to dust baths! 1/2 ton of sand cost me $6.00 And it will last probably all winter! And once the sand gets warm this winter it will hold heat! So my chickies will have nice toasty feet!
     
  10. DianaMallory

    DianaMallory Songster

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    And with sand you don't have to worry about what shavings do what to what animal! When I decided to use sand I thought back-way back when my grandmother had chickens she didn't have bedding in her coop just straw in her nest! My grandma had a dirt floor in her coop! The sand sticks to the poo and helps dry it so it is easy to scoop which I noticed keeps the ammonia levels down! I could hardly stand to smell the straw when I removed it but the sand had hardly any odor! I have a linoleum floor in my 5'x8' coop with sand in it! So save a tree use sand! Use river sand not play sand! you get it at rock quarry's.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2012

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