Wood chips for bedding?

Jazzyfresh

In the Brooder
Nov 30, 2021
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I was wondering how many people actually use wood chips in there chicken coop, and their opinion of how well it works.
I've been using them since my chickens moved in to the coop and haven't had any problems, but I heard they can give your chickens splinters, or can be too damp. I live where it can get really cold sometimes in winter, like below zero (not a lot, but it does happen) and I'm a little worried about the humidity, since high humidity in the coop can cause frostbite.

Does anyone have these problems with wood chips? What are the pros and cons?
 

Chicken poppy

Crowing
May 9, 2021
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I was wondering how many people actually use wood chips in there chicken coop, and their opinion of how well it works.
I've been using them since my chickens moved in to the coop and haven't had any problems, but I heard they can give your chickens splinters, or can be too damp. I live where it can get really cold sometimes in winter, like below zero (not a lot, but it does happen) and I'm a little worried about the humidity, since high humidity in the coop can cause frostbite.

Does anyone have these problems with wood chips? What are the pros and cons?
Heres my thoughts.
Dont use cedar, i beileve it can be toxic. So use pine.
dont use sawdust either, or to fine, it can get damper or dustier a lot quicker.
I personally dont use wood shavings, but thats what i know.
 

MGG

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Feb 7, 2020
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I was wondering how many people actually use wood chips in there chicken coop, and their opinion of how well it works.
I've been using them since my chickens moved in to the coop and haven't had any problems, but I heard they can give your chickens splinters, or can be too damp. I live where it can get really cold sometimes in winter, like below zero (not a lot, but it does happen) and I'm a little worried about the humidity, since high humidity in the coop can cause frostbite.

Does anyone have these problems with wood chips? What are the pros and cons?
I use them for my ducks in their coop, and ducks are WET.
They hold up better than any of the other beddings I've tried, and tend to be cheaper too.
Get the largest flake possible though. Anything smaller than large flake is too dusty for them. If you change them frequently that's best, I just put a new layer on top for a month or so, and then after a month clean the whole thing out. Keep the water against a side, and not in the middle. That helps keep it cleaner and drier.
Frostbite occurs more if you don't have good ventilation. Can you get pics of your vents?
 

Chicken poppy

Crowing
May 9, 2021
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Connecticut
I use them for my ducks in their coop, and ducks are WET.
They hold up better than any of the other beddings I've tried, and tend to be cheaper too.
Get the largest flake possible though. Anything smaller than large flake is too dusty for them. If you change them frequently that's best, I just put a new layer on top for a month or so, and then after a month clean the whole thing out. Keep the water against a side, and not in the middle. That helps keep it cleaner and drier.
Frostbite occurs more if you don't have good ventilation. Can you get pics of your vents?
Yep. Dont want dusty shavings!
 

3KillerBs

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I was using large flake shavings for bedding in the Little Monitor Coop. Now I'm using coarse wood chips -- from a tree trimming service -- in my permanent setup, the large, Open Air coop.

There is no perfect bedding and many different beddings can work well depending on your management.

Straw is traditional, but subject to packing, matting, and developing anaerobic pockets. Chopped straw is supposed to be better about that.

I found that a little straw added to the shavings kept the bedding fluffier -- better than either shavings or straw alone.

Pine straw is not absorbent enough for the coop but, again, a little mixed into the shavings was better than shavings alone. Pine straw is excellent in the run because it resists packing and dries out rapidly after even the heaviest rain.

People use all kinds of exotic materials like coffee grounds, shredded paper, and hemp fibers and locally-available materials like my pine straw and the rice hulls available in some places.

Try different options to see what works best for you.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Nov 27, 2012
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Does anyone have these problems with wood chips? What are the pros and cons?
Need to know what kind of wood chips you are talking about?
Pics would be good.

What kind of bedding you use may depend on how you manage the manure.
This is about cleaning, but covers my big picture

-I use poop boards under roosts with thin(<1/2") layer of sand/PDZ mix, sifted daily(takes 5-10mins) into bucket going to friends compost.
-Scrape big or wet poops off roost and ramps as needed.
-Large flake pine shavings on coop floor, add some occasionally, totally changed out once or twice a year, old shavings added to run.
- My runs have semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are best IMO.
-Nests are bedded with straw, add some occasionally, change out if needed(broken egg).

There is no odor, unless a fresh cecal has been dropped and when I open the bucket to add more poop.

That's how I keep it 'clean', have not found any reason to clean 'deeper' in 8 years.
 

rosemarythyme

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If the coop stays dry dampness should not be an issue. Since my chips are stored in a pile directly on the ground they're always a little moist when I put them in the coop, but they dry out pretty quickly and so the moisture isn't an issue after a few days.

Splinters could be an issue, I suppose, but all the birds I have with bumblefoot are heavier birds so I think it's more the impact coming off the roost onto the bedding that causes issues. If your roosts are high that could be something to think about.

Heres my thoughts.
Dont use cedar, i beileve it can be toxic. So use pine.
dont use sawdust either, or to fine, it can get damper or dustier a lot quicker.
I personally dont use wood shavings, but thats what i know.
OP asked about wood chips, you're mentioning shavings.

If you're using wood chips, use whatever mix you have available. My chips are a mix of cedar, hemlock, fir, and... anything else that got in the way. Black walnut and Eastern red cedar are probably the only two that I'd recommend caution on (black walnut is dangerous to horses and can kill other plants if used as mulch, Eastern red cedar is highly aromatic so would need to be aged thoroughly before using).

As far as cedar in general, you'll get mixed responses. I feel very comfortable about using it in my set up. We have Western cedar which is lower aroma than Eastern red cedar.

I would probably avoid using all cedar, or fresh cedar (well, fresh anything really... pine sap is awful!), or cedar in closed-in environments (i.e. indoor brooder, coop lacking in ventilation). My coop is well over recommended ventilation plus has a high ceiling for added air volume.

Many coop builds have cedar and I don't think people ever consider that. My current coop has cedar trim, my old one (which is now a chick brooder) is 100% cedar.

Obviously if you're not comfortable with it, don't use it, but I've been mixing in cedar for the last few years and there's been no sign of respiratory issues in my flock.
 

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