Y'all use wood shavings.... alternatives? Also: Wasted food?


In the Brooder
10 Years
Feb 27, 2009
I have my chickies on newspaper like my book says. Once I put a couple of wood shavings in there and the silly babies fought over who got to eat them. Which will give them pasty butt.
I m thinking chopped straw, maybe?
Would it be bad to rake up some dry leaves outside?

Another question is how to avoid wasting food. My babies scratch at the feeder and make all this food come out - which ends on the floor and wasted. Kills me! I don't even fill up the container on the feeder, because that makes matters worse. It's just there so they can't sit on the feeder and poop in the food.
My chicks started out with wood shavings and they were just fine,,they never tried to eat it. As far as food,,,they love to get in it and scratch around. Hanging feeders work the best.
Some use potting soil , sand or even chick food . I use shaving, never had any problem with them eating them. I may try the potting soil next though, seems like they would love scratching in it. I think newspaper is too slick.

They are going to waste some. That's what chickens do. You can reduce it by having the feeder about back-high and have a lip on the inside of the feeder so they have trouble scooping it out with their bills. If they can, they will get on top of it and poop in it and they will scratch it out.

Good luck.
We had the same problem with our chicks last year. They scratched out twice as much food as they ate. We ended up putting the feeder inside a small pan to catch most of the spilled food. It worked great, because after they scratched the food into the pan, they'd eat it! You can see it in the background of this picture:

I used pine shavings and they were fine. Sure they pick it up and check it out with their beaks, but they don't actual swallow a bunch of it. A chick will grab a piece and run around playing keep away from the other chicks for something to do.
As far as I know, eating pine shavings is not what causes pasty butt. Otherwise how would you explain chicks getting pasty butt that aren't on shavings? Pasty butt comes from shipping stress and incorrect temps., amongst other things.
ETA: I just dug out one of my chicken books that said eating sawdust can cause pasty butt. I used large flake pine shavings (available here at walmart & atwoods) and never had a problem. They've been on pine shavings since day one.
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I've got mine on a few paper towels, with some dirt over the top. The dirt is working really well- it's dry, and it's not smelling at all. Of course, I through some weed seedlings in there as well, which dry up, and those probably help with the poop issue as well. Chicks are happy, and are content to scratch their spilled food out of the dirt as well.
After the first week I use shredded paper. I have a paper shredder and the chicks literally jump in the pile and start scrtching and digging in it. They love it!

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