Using a chipper to make bedding?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Qvrfullmidwife, Dec 18, 2004.

  1. Qvrfullmidwife

    Qvrfullmidwife Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2004
    We have been buying wood shavings for bedding for the chickens, etc around here...we have several acres that we are in the process of clearing, can we use a chipper to turn these trees into bedding for the animals? This is all really new to us, but we hate the idea of paying for bedding if we could turn what we have (trees) into it. How? Pluses and minuses? I feel like this is such a stupid question, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

    GREEN_ALIEN Sunny, Wet, Tornadoey SD!

    Oct 17, 2004
    South Dakota
    I thought I would try this a couple of years ago and learned a couple of lessons.
    I cleared an acre and chipped everything that would fit in an 6 inch chipper. needless to say I had a HUGE pile of chips.

    #1 if you chip living material it is wet and unsuitable for bedding.
    #2 if you leave it piled up to dry out it starts composting.

    If you do this only chip dead, dry material. If you include any wet material don't pile it up. Spread it out on tarps to dry completly and then bag it up in used feed sacks.


  3. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 24, 2003
    We have before when clearing up, dry (seasoned) pine is best. I would not use hardwoods or cedar as they take longer to decompose and dont absorb wetness like pine. Alot of work but if you have it available....
  4. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

    Jun 16, 2002
    South Central Kansas
    Just to be sure you know---a chipper makes chips of wood, i.e. chunks of wood not shavings.

    With the chipper I have dead material is very tough to chip, therefore I do only green stuff which would need to dry out before use.

    Are you aware that it is recommended that you only clean out chicken litter a couple of times per year? At least that is old school so that the litter can provide some warmth as it insulates the floor and decomposes. All of this assumes that you have the correct sized chicken house for the number of birds you have.
  5. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

    May 20, 2004
    SE Missouri
    Wood chips make good litter for the coop and yard. Dry them as much as poss in the sun before putting them in the coop. Not so important to dry them first for the yard. You will still want shavings or straw for the nests, but the chips should save lots on the floor litter. I say to go ahead.
  6. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    Western NY
    I've chipped my own bedding for the last 3 years. I chip material that I have cut the previous year and I chip stuff that is small. That way it's dry but easy to chip. It's not quite as absorbent as shavings, but makes up for it being free, but like others have said it will compost or mold if you use green wood. I don't bag mine, I put it straight in my stall (for cows) in the fall. And for the chickens I deep litter it and just change it about 3 times a year.

    Carol K
  7. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    I got to know a local sawmill operator that was glad to give me all the wood shavings or chips I could haul. Some nice pine/cedar shavings were very similar to what one buys in a pet store for rodent bedding like for guinea pigs and hamsters. I used this as a base in the chicken coop and put a layer of oat straw over that. It worked well for insulating and droppings. I cleared that mess out of the coop maybe twice a year. It went to a pile mixed with wood ash, turkey manure, grass clippings, and garden waste to compost. I didn't care how long it took, but it composeted enough to till in the garden eventually. If it didnt' break down the wood fibers, than that added some aeration and stability to the soil. I just mades sure enough manure added to maintain a decomposition ratio so that there wouldn't be a problem of leaching nutrients by a high carbon presence.

    My chicken coop could become clay gumbo with heavy rains. When I could get the chips from the sawmill, I added this outside over the dirt/clay of the chicken pen. It kept the mud down and puddling which the chickens enjoyed.
  8. Sandra Nelson

    Sandra Nelson Well-Known Member

    Oct 12, 2002
    East Central Minnesota
    Thought I would add my 2 cents as I cruised through today. This is from over 20 years experience in dairying. Do not use hardwoods for bedding cows (probably sheep and goats too). Hardwoods tend to hold coliform bacteria which when dampened with urine can lead at the least to high somatic cell counts in the milk and at the worst can fulminate into severe if not fatal mastitis. If you want to use sawdust, shavings, chips for bedding, stick to the softwoods. Hope this saves someone alot of greif and expense.
  9. Becky H.

    Becky H. Well-Known Member

    Jun 30, 2004
    In a good size chipper not a cheap model it takes me an hour to make a bag of chips that cost 4.00 at the feed store.

    I don't like chipping so much! If one has helpers then that is good but it is alot of work for the outcome.