Bidding wars. Bedding wars….
Taking a break from my organizing posts, I thought I would share with you a little post from around the farm.
I told you a while back that I had been experimenting with shredded paper in the chicken coop. The last post I put up, I talked about how wet and soggy everything was. There had been so much rain that nothing kept dry.
I have been playing around with all sorts of bedding materials for the chickens since we started. Bedding is adds up. Shavings are about $5 a bale. Straw, if I can get it for free works well, but that too is generally about $4 a bale.
Chicken keeping, overall, is not expensive. Not terribly anyways.
(Keep in mind we have horses and dogs. One dog who can ONLY eat the $45 a bag food. A $12 bag of feed once a week, a bale of shavings every once in a while is not terrible.)
Always one to try to keep costs down, and keep things easier, I started experimenting with bedding types.
I read about people using sand in their coops. I thought it seemed to work pretty well. The chicken’s nails were kept trim. It was hard to sift the poop out though and you really had to do that on occasion or it all melded into one hard mass. Once it got wet, it stayed wet. And heavy. In the winter, it froze into a hard block. There was nothing I could do about it either. I piled leaves and shavings on top of it to get them through until we had a thaw.
Sand then, I felt, was a fail. In our coop, the way we have it now, it just didn’t work well. Maybe when we have the bigger coop set up, I may use it in the run anyways.
Typically, I just use wood shavings. They are easy. I can throw oats down and they will stir up the shavings going after the oats. They are generally light, even if they are wet. Yes, it does get heavy, but not as heavy as wet sand. I can throw leaves on top of that in the fall and it all mixes into a nice composted mix. (I threw that onto the garden.)
On occasion, I will get some straw and throw it in the coop. I do not have a source for straw, and bales of shavings are easy to pick up at the farm supply store when I am there for feed.
But now, I think I am on to something SWEET!
The ultimate in recycling and composting.
I have been mixing it in with the shavings, about equal amounts, give or take, and it seems to work pretty well.
We take all those newspapers we all get and don’t read, all the scrap paper from the printer, junk mail and throw it through the paper shredder. My friend brings me bags from her workplace. Another friend brings me bags or saves the paper for me to shred. I do not shred up any shiny paper like most of the ads we get. That has too much ink and such on it and does not absorb as well.
All FREE. FREE….. Do you see that awesome word there?? FREE!!!!!!!
The last time we cleaned the coop, I threw in 2 bales of shavings. Later that week, I threw in a bag of shredded paper. Especially in the nest boxes. Since then, I have thrown in bags of paper here and there, whenever I have some and it seems to need some fresh bedding in there. Last week I did get a bale of shavings and threw it in just too even things out a bit. We have had a cold spell here lately, so I am not removing bedding, just adding to it so that it stays warmer in there.
The eggs now come in decorated already. I wash them just before I use them anyways and all the paper comes off easily enough. No big deal. Newspaper absorbs odors too so both coop and rabbit cage seem to be less smelly. Another bonus.
Last week, we brought the 2 rabbits into the garage where it will be a bit warmer for them. I used shredded paper in their cages. So far, it seems to be working pretty well. They don’t seem to be eating much of it, and it seems to be staying pretty clean for them.
Have you tried using paper in your pet cages?? Let me know what you think.