Straw, sand or pine shavings

Posted by: cinwri

Straw, sand or pine shavings - 01/29/15 05:13 PM

Hi, I am new to having chickens and am wanting to know what is the best to use for the laying boxes, the floor of the coop and on the ground in the coop yard. I have 6 pullets, and 2 hens. Would be happy to get any advice.
Posted by: Moderator2

Re: Straw, sand or pine shavings - 01/30/15 05:18 PM

I like something soft in the bottom of the lay boxes to protect the eggs. For that I am currently using cut pieces of a shower mat, sort of rubbery. Then I use shredded paper (long ribbons not cross cut) for nesting material but straw would work well also. The floor of the coop should have an absorbent litter, pine/wood shavings work best. Straw is not absorbent. In the run I built up a deep base of sand. It drains well and is great for dust baths. You never want standing water in the run. I add pulverized lime stone from time to time to keep it from getting too acidic do to the manure. My run has a metal roof protecting it from rain so I also put straw on top of the sand and change the straw every so often removing much of the droppings with it but this is not a good choice if the straw will be rained or snowed on.
I wish you much enjoyment with your new chickens!
Welcome to the Classroom at the Coop!
Posted by: Robbie

Re: Straw, sand or pine shavings - 01/31/15 06:23 AM

Chicken manure is acidic? So, compost made from it would acidify the soil? (oops sorry I don't mean to hijack the thread- should I re post elsewhere? ) I always used clean dust free straw in my nesting boxes, the hens liked it and liked to move the straw around. I'd change the straw regularly for fresh stuff.
Posted by: Moderator2

Re: Straw, sand or pine shavings - 01/31/15 09:50 AM

This is as good a place as any to discuss chicken poop! Litter management is mostly about containing and controlling the poop.
Chicken droppings are acidic and high in nitrogen as well. Remember, chickens don't urinate, the white stuff is uric acids. So, manure from birds and reptiles is much different than that from mammals. The lime helps to bind the nitrogen as well as raise the pH (lower the acidity). I use pulverized lime stone because it has a sandy texture and is NOT fast acting. A fast acting lime can harm the birds feet.
Posted by: Robbie

Re: Straw, sand or pine shavings - 01/31/15 04:52 PM

Thanks Moderator2! that's 2 new things I just learned........chicken poop is acidic and not to use fast acting lime. :-) .
Posted by: cinwri

Re: Straw, sand or pine shavings - 02/01/15 08:01 AM

Thanks! I now have pine shavings in the nest boxes as well as on the floor of the coop, in the yard is a bit of straw that will be replaced with a layer of sand. My birds are all starting to lay now and I have to say how exciting it is to find the eggs in the boxes every day!!! This morning we saw a couple of cayotes near the coop! YIKES!! Believe my chickens are safe as my husband built it with predators in mind (hardware cloth as well as chicken wire all around, with hardware cloth aprons on the outside, metal roof) but you can be sure we will be watching the girls very closely...
Moderator2, I think I have figured out the posting issue!!!:)
Posted by: Moderator2

Re: Straw, sand or pine shavings - 02/01/15 08:06 AM

It sounds like you are off to a great start! Those first eggs are the best!
Posted by: Uno

Re: Straw, sand or pine shavings - 03/10/15 12:23 AM

Because I have access to plenty of free cedar, I use exclusively, 100% cedar shavings from the moment the chicks hatch all through their life.

The chicks eat the cedar. They do not die. Contrary to popular belief, cedar is not nearly as deadly to chickens as you have been told. Sadly it is also not nearly as repellant to crawling pests as you have been told either. I still have to wage war and be vigilant against mites, lice and other wee beasties.

But the hens like to scratch all the shavings out of the nest boxes then - clunk - drop their eggs on the plywood bottom and break the eggs. So I cut hunks of that cheap rubber backed indoor - outdoor carpet. You know, the gray stuff you put in the porch to wipe your shoes on. A square of that in the nest box provides a bit of a cushion they can't scratch out. No more broken eggs. When they get gross, I huck them out and install new ones. A light sprinkle of shavings under the carpet makes it even more cushy for the eggs.
Posted by: HeritageHens

Re: Straw, sand or pine shavings - 03/13/15 11:34 AM

I have Orpington chickens and Guinea fowl. Both use the same nests most of the time. Mine are the large size covered cat litter boxes, the plastic ones with removeable top. I take out the swinging plastic door.
Then I put a layer of kiln dried shavings, then I make a bowl of hay over that. Then I sprinkle a little more shavings into the bowl on some. On some I leave the hay bowl bare with just shavings underneath. Some of the hens like one set up, some the other. Over all of this I dust DE. Sometimes on the bare floor of the nest boxes I'll sprinkle permethrin, finish off with the DE. We don't have any lice or mites but I do this anyway for precaution. Some of the guinea hens will make bowls in the areas of the barn having dirt floor or hay-covered floor. They do a good job building the nests with hay themselves. These are the Guinea hens who want to start a clutch.