Sorry about the newbie question here. I got my first chickens 4 months ago as adult hens. I started with straw as the bedding material, but have not been happy with it as it is not very absorbent. I decided to get a bale of pine shavings and toss it on the top of the straw. I tossed some here and there in the spots that needed it most, but when I go back to the coop it seems to be gone with only the straw remaining. This has happened 3 times now. Could the chickens be eating it, and if so, is it harmful?
shavings do seem to get lost in the coop. I bet when you scoop up a shovel of the litter you'll find shavings at the bottom.
If they ARE eating if for some reason, it shouldn't be harmful. it's just wood...but it would be unusual for the hens to eat it. Chickens are pretty food savvy. Rarely eating anything that will harm them.
You might try grass hay for bedding. toss in a few flakes shaken out a little and the birds will love it. Alfalfa is actually better, but it's usually more costly. The hay absorbs more than staw, the birds can scratch around and eat some which keeps the bedding turned over, AND it makes the coop smell good.
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So long as they know where the feed is I doubt they'd be eating the shavings. I've brooded hundreds of chicks on shavings over the years and have never noticed them eating them. They've probably sifted down to the bottom and are underneath the straw.
Were they actually eating them or just scratching through them? They'll all scratch through them when you first put them down, but I've yet to see a bird that would eat more than a chip or two, just enough to find out they weren't something to eat.
Oh no, they would actually EAT them. Scoop em up like it was a treat. It was a juvenile group of araucanas - I had to separate them back into some brooder pens for a while. When I let them rejoin the group, they seemed to have lost their taste for it?
But, I would agree that the more likely scenario for the OP would be that the shavings are just falling beneath the straw. My chickens were just retarded, I think.
My chickens eat fresh shavings all the time too. These are shavings that we have made here ourselves with the planer (we wanted thinner boards, but got some great shavings too!). There are very fine curly shreds, not like the chunky stuff you get in bags at TSC.
Whenever I put fresh shavings in the nest boxes, they all line up and stand there and eat the shavings in the bottom row like they are eating out of a hay manger. It's really quite comical. It doesn't matter if it's pine, maple, oak, or walnut. They eat any kind.