Poultry bedding-what kind

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Just wanting to know what kind of poultry bedding you use during the winter, in cold weather places--snow and freezing temps. I use wood shavings but it is wet all the time and it is not a good time to be cleaning out the chicken house. I leave the windows open in the chicken house for ventilation but the house floor is always wet. I'm afraid the floor will rot before spring. Maybe nothing at all on the floor would be better. Thanks for any suggestions. Nancy in Nebraska

-- Nancy Boswell (daboz@huntel.net), January 05, 2001


I also have a dirt floor and to keep it dry I put a layer of sand then straw on top. It seems to keep better w/ the sand.

-- renee oneill{md.} (oneillsr@home.com), January 05, 2001.

I've been using leaves that I used my lawn mower on to grind them up somewhat. So far it has worked out really well. The chickens keep it churned up pretty good. Instant compost in the spring. It's stayed dry and fluffy even with our snow/ice.

-- Amanda in Mo (aseley@townsqr.com), January 05, 2001.

I start out with a thick layer of wood shavings in the fall and now that it is snowing I throw them a flake or two of hay every day and they eat it and spread it around. Does your coop leak?? I am not sure I understand why it is wet all the time.

-- diane (gardiacaprines@yahoo.com), January 05, 2001.

When we lived in Alaska, we were fortunate enough to be friends with the feed store owner. Whenever we went to buy feed, we would sweep out his hay/straw barn floor for him and use that for bedding. He was happy for the free labor and we for the free bedding. The hens loved picking through the bedding to find tasty treats. It also gave them something to due on those foul winter days when it was too cold to let them out.

-- roscoe rotten (rkphipps@simflex.com), January 05, 2001.

How big are the windowa and which way are they facing? This matters, as does whether or not the house is portable or permanent. My portable chicken house gets stuck in one place in the winter months for up to 2 weeks on end. An unusual occurrence. The floor never gets as damp as you describe. Their yard gets abused and isn't as interesting at the end of the time as it was in the beginning. Oh, well. I use pine shavings as bedding. I change it every 6-9 weeks depending on the weather. It is usually very deep in the winter months. The cleaner it is the less I have to clean eggs or worry about disease. Good luck.

-- Anne (HT@HM.com), January 05, 2001.

How deep do you keep the bedding - we have it 6+ inches deep, and that absorbs moisture from the droppings fairly effectively. We also add another few inches when it gets matted down, the girls'll keep it pretty fluffy. How many birds vs. square footage in the coop? Leaking waterer? Leaking roof/walls?

-- Judi (ddecaro@snet.net), January 05, 2001.

I am in Northern Indiana, I have always used ground corn cobs as bedding for my birds. I was always of the understanding that you shouldn't bed chickens with wood shavings. Wood shavings won't soak up any moisture, whereas the cobs are like little sponges.

If the floor is wet from snow coming in the windows, perhaps you could nail some feed sacks over them. This would still let some air pass through, but would stop most of the snow or rain. You might consider a ridge vent or something like that so that you can close the windows.

-- Wayne (plefor@hotpop.com), January 06, 2001.

While this is my first winter with chickens and a coop, I've had fairly good success so far with nothing more than a ridge vent, and 6+ inches of hay as bedding.

When I used wood shavings for the guinea hens I rescued, I had to change the shavings out of the improvised brooder (a large dog crate and a heat lamp) every 5 to 7 days as it just got way too wet and stayed wet. And there was only 5 babies in there, so I can imagine a coop of chickens...

-- Eric in TN (eric_m_stone@yahoo.com), January 08, 2001.

Wayne, where in Northern Indiana do you get ground corn cobs? I live near South Bend/LaPorte and haven't seen them for sale around here.

Diana H

-- Diana H (GoteHead5@aol.com), January 11, 2001.

We use straw. We do the deep litter method where we keep adding clean straw on top of the old. This is our second year of doing this it appears to be working. Be prepared though in the Spring. The stuff you have to clean out will be heavy. Great for a compost pile though.

-- Trisha-MN (tank@linkup.net), January 11, 2001.


I live in amish country, and since many of them still pick the corn by hand, or pay someone to use a "picker" to harvest it, and then store it in the crib, our local mill often has corn cobs available. I simply asked if I could buy some ground corn cobs, and they ran the cobs through the grinder, and bagged them, and sold them to me for a dollar a bag.

I live approx. 35 miles south of Fort Wayne, in Adams county. I bet if you go east toward Amish country you may find a source.

-- Wayne (plefor@hotpop.com), January 11, 2001.

I am tempted to say "Been there, done that!", but I won't! I, as you, was trying to be slightly too frugal. I find wood shavings (or sawdust, if you can find a woodworking shop, though it is not as good) to be the best. The key is to not skimp! After cleaning out in the fall, put a good 6" of shavings in. As soon as it seems to be clumping, rake it, and add another couple of inches! In the spring it makes a super starter for your compost heap. Just don't skimp! GL!

-- Brad (homefixer@SacoRiver.net), January 12, 2001.

Regarding ground corn cobs: It is my understanding that this is an "excellent" source of aspergillosis. Do chickens not get aspergillosis? Or is it considered worth the risk?

-- Joy Froelich (dragnfly@chorus.net), January 12, 2001.

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