When it comes to mulch, most people will think of the yard and garden. Mulch helps plants grow by helping retain moisture in the soil. Also, it helps prevent weeds from growing in and around the plants. Since mulch is widely used around the home, you may wonder if it’s safe for your chickens.
Is Mulch Safe for Chickens?
Mulch is often used for landscaping and around the yard. However, for backyard chicken owners, some will use it for bedding or the floor in their run.
Mulch comes in many different sizes and made from various materials.
For the most part, mulch is safe for chickens.
What Is Mulch?
Depending on whom you ask, you will probably get different answers for what mulch is.
The best answer for mulch is simply a loose substance that is used to cover the topsoil.
Mulch is typically used in the yard and garden. It’s spread around the plants to help retain the moisture.
Without mulch, the soil will get dried too quickly. By using mulch, the soil will stay moist for a long period of time.
Also, mulch is used to help prevent weeds from growing.
Common Types of Mulch
When it comes to mulch, there are many types that are available. However, for mulch that is suitable for chickens, there are only a few of them.
Below is the mulch that is safe to use around your chickens:
Bark and Wood Chips
Bark and wood chips are the most common mulch used for landscaping and gardening. This material is safe to use around chickens.
For the flooring of the coop or run, you can use bark and wood chips. These materials are durable and easy to clean.
These are readily available at the stores, and it’s cheap as well. Besides the stores, you can make them yourself at home as well.
Pine needles are another common mulch used around the home. You can use pine needles for the chickens as well.
This material is abundant and can easily be found if you live in the northern part of the country. If not, they are sold in stores as well.
This mulch is common to use in the chicken coop. It’s soft and easy to replace when it becomes dirty.
When using shredded leave, make sure that it’s dry first. Wet leaves can cause mold and bacteria to grow on them quickly.
Instead of throwing the grass clippings away, you can use them in the chicken coop. It is soft for the chickens, especially hens that are laying eggs.
Grass clippings will need to be dry before you can use them. Otherwise, it will be damp and attract mold.
Straw is the most common mulch used around the home, and it is also commonly used in bedding materials for chickens.
Straw is highly absorbent, has insulating properties, and it’s inexpensive.
The only downside to using straws is that you’ll need to change them often. If the straw becomes wet, it will be a breeding ground for parasites and bacteria.
Is Cedar Mulch Safe For Chickens?
There is a lot of debate surrounding the use of cedar mulch. Some chicken owners say it is fine to use, while others go against using it.
I, myself, do not use any materials made from cedar and I don’t recommend you use it either, especially around the chickens.
According to anapsid.org, it explains in great detail the danger of cedar. The compound found in cedar includes cedrol, cadrol, hydrocarbons, and naphthalene. All of these compounds are known to cause respiratory problems and irritate the skin.
In addition, cedar bedding is known to cause discharge from the chicken’s nose and eyes. Also, it will cause coughing, sneezing, and affect egg-laying hens.
Again, I recommend staying away from cedar mulch or anything that’s made from cedar for use around your chickens.
Is Cypress Mulch Safe For Chickens?
Another type of material that is used for chicken bedding is cypress mulch. The material comes from the Bald Cypress trees. In some parts of the country, it’s cheap and easy to find.
This makes them a favorite mulch to use in the coop as bedding.
Cypress mulch is similar to cedar mulch in texture. However, only Cypress mulch is safe to use for bedding.
Can I Put Mulch in My Chicken Run?
Mulch is mostly used as topsoil for plants. The main reason for using mulch is to help retain the moisture in the soil.
For the chicken run, you want to use materials that don’t hold moisture. If there is moisture, bacteria, mold, and parasites will thrive.
Therefore, if you’re planning to use mulch in the run, the one I recommend is hardwood chips.
Due to their hard surface, hardwood chips don’t absorb moisture, and it’s easy to clean.
Don’t get confused with bark and softwood chips. These materials are not the same as hardwood chips. Barks chips are more porous and will easily absorb moisture. The chips will need to be replaced often throughout the day if you’re planning to use them.
Since chickens will spill water, pee, and excrete their waste in the run, the bark chips will become soggy quickly.
There are many different types of mulch available that you can use for the chicken’s coop bedding. However, there are only a few of which is suitable for chickens. The one that you should stay away from is cedar mulch. It’s not safe to use for the bedding or anywhere around the chickens.