As a chicken owner, you’ll need to provide a safe and comfortable place for your chickens. One of the things essential for them is their bedding. It helps absorb moisture, insulate the floor of the coop from cold weather, and provide the chickens a chance to dust. Since chickens will also eliminate their waste on the bedding, you’ll need to change them.
So, how often to change chicken bedding? How often you’ll need to change the chicken bedding will depend on the type of bedding, how many chickens you have, and their environment. For that reason, you should expect the chicken bedding to last for about 4-6 months.
Why Does Chicken Bedding Need Changing?
As a chicken owner, it’s important to change the chicken bedding often. This will keep the bedding free of parasites and bugs, and also keep the coop smelling fresh.
Chickens are not able to control their poop, so they will eliminate their waste everywhere, including their nest. Their waste is composed of both feces and urine.
As this waste gets into their bedding, it will start to build up. When their bedding is wet, it’s an excellent breeding ground for bacteria.
Once bacteria start to form and multiply, it will to a drastic increase in ammonia in the coop. Ammonia is harmful to the health of the chickens, even death can occur. It Will affect them by causing depressed growth, respiratory ailments, and blindness.
Also, wet bedding may support the growth of dangerous mold. When there is a lot of mold growth, it can cause diseases such as aspergillosis and mycoses.
Parasites are another thing to worry about when the bedding isn’t changed for a long time. Parasites like coccidiosis, roundworms, and tapeworms thrive in the bedding that is wet from the chicken waste.
Deep Litter Method
Many chicken owners will use the “deep litter” method. This method is easy to manage, and you don’t need to clean them often.
For this method, you simply let the chickens poop on the floor of the coop. As they poop, the poop will pile on to of each other. You’ll let them do this until there’s a large pile of poop.
While this may sound gross, it’s a good way to form compost, which you can use for the garden.
To do this, start by laying a layer of pine shaving or other organic matters. This will form the “browns”, which is one of the matters needed to make compost. The other matter is chicken poop, which is the high-nitrogen “greens”.
Every month, add more shavings to the pile. The chicken poop will aerate it.
After about 2 months, it will be a deep liter. When it approaches 6 months, it will be a built-up deep litter. By 12 months, you will have fully built up compost.
Normal Litter Method
If you rather clean your chicken bedding more often, you can use the normal litter method.
Some chicken owners like to have a few inches of bedding in the coop. This provides soft bedding for the chickens. To keep the coop clean, you’ll need to scoop out all the waste and change the bedding weekly.
Types of Bedding That’s Popular for Chickens
Straw is a material that is natural to chickens. This is because chickens and other birds in the wild will use to build their nest.
Straw is popular to use as their bedding since it’s cheap and easy to find.
However, straw isn’t something that’s good at absorbing moisture. This means you’ll need to clean the bedding often.
Also, chickens love straw, and they will forage in them, which will make a mess.
When it comes to chicken bedding, wood shaving is the most popular choice for chicken owners. It’s inexpensive, easy to find, and available in many forms.
The two most popular are cedar and pine shaving. However, I would avoid cedar shaving as it can cause respiratory issues for the chickens.
Pine shaving is the better choice for chicken bedding. Try to get the bigger shavings, as these are likely to cause less dust and get ingested by the chickens.
The main reason why wood shaving is popular is that they are very absorbent, easy to clean, and good at controlling odors in the coop.
Formulated Chicken Bedding
If you’re looking for chicken bedding that does a good job controlling odor, absorbing moisture, is easy to clean, and more, you should consider formulated bedding.
It’s bedding that is made with different materials and combined. Some of which include chopped straw, herbs, and zeolite granules. Depending on the manufacturer, each will incorporate different materials into their product.
How much bedding does a chicken need?
Bedding will need to be at least 3 inches deep. This will provide enough cushion for the chicken when they land. If not, they may injure their feet or legs.