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Wood Pellets for Chicken Bedding



This is one of my most favorite money saving chicken tricks! I use wood pellets for bedding in my chicken coop. 

Wood pellets absorb WAY more most than shavings or straw cutting down on smell and extending the time you can go between coop cleanings. The moisture absorption is handy in the winter because it keeps the humidity level down in your coop thus helping to prevent frostbite. 


Several brands are pure pine (as pictured), which is cheaper for bedding than hardwood pellets. 

Composting Benefit


One of the things that really got me started using wood stove pellets is when absorb moisture they expand to a finer sawdust than shavings. This makes wood pellets MUCH easier to compost than shavings or even straw. Shaving take forever - straw takes a little less time than shaving but sawdust from wood pellets composts real quickly because before the wood is compressed to a pellet it's already been run through a mill and reduced to the size of a grain of rice.


A bag of wood stove pine pellets are about half the cost of the "Pet Bedding" wood pellets and are basically the same thing.

Price


While costs may differ depending on your location, in my area a bale of pine shaving now costs about $8 - where as a bag of pine wood pellets cost me $2.99. I can go through almost a whole winter on 3 bags of wood pellets. You don't need to use a lot of them because they expand so much. A bale of straw now also costs $6-$8. When I used straw only I would go through 2-3 bales a winter, depending on conditions. 

I like using Lignetics - they are fairly inexpensive and widely available in our area. But really I will purchase any pure pine wood pellet that is on sale. Please note: while I have included a link here to Lignetics Pellets - because wood pellets are dense and heavy they are EXCEEDINGLY expensive to buy online. It's much cheaper to run down to Costco, Lowes, the local Feed store, or the local farm supply store and pick some up. 

I have nothing against straw, I just stopped using it because I came across a batch that was full of mites. There are no bugs or critters in wood stove pellets. The challenge is of course finding somewhere dry to store the pellets if you buy them in bulk for another discount.

Chicks

When I have chicks in our brooder I will use pellets but then cover the pellets with a thick lay of actual pine shaving or straw. I just don't trust the little guys to 'not eat' the pellets. This way I still get the moisture absorption, and fume control benefits. Very handy trick for a brooder full of meat chickens. 






Wood Pellet Questions:


Won't my chickens eat the pellets?


I have been using wood stove pellets for going on 5 years now with a flock that ranges from 50-25 yearly, and have not had A SINGLE problem with my hens eating the pellets. How do I know this? Every year I butcher a few of my oldest hens that aren't laying much anymore, the meat birds and any roosters that we are not keeping and while I am processing them I look for evidence. I have never found that they have consumed the wood pellets. Since I feed 'layer pellets' I make it a point to look and pay attention to what they are eating. 

However chickens have killed themselves before by eating grass, pine shaving and rocks. So I am sure somewhere some poor little hen has killed herself eating wood pellets too. If this concerns you, opt for a different kind of bedding - I am merely offering an idea.

Are Hardwood Pellets Bad? What about Oak? 

I have read up on oak and found it to be just fine - oak chips from furniture shops are generally bad for chickens because it has been treated with ammonia, which is bad for their lungs. These 'treated' oak chips are not allowed in the manufacturing of wood stove pellets. Other than that hardwood is fine - beechwood is kinda bad for chickens though, if in doubt stick to pine pellets.

Aren't there chemicals and glues in wood stove pellets?

Chemicals and glues aren't allowed in the production of wood pellet manufacturing because the end product has to be safe to burn. The pellets are held to together with their own moisture and sap. No additional chemicals are added.


Click Here to See a Video on How Wood Stove Pellets are Made!



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1 comment:

  1. Great idea, and this is something I plan to do when I finally have my coop. I had previously years ago used wood pellets in a cat litter box, but hadn't thought about it for chickens. Thanks!

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