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What is the best litter for your chicken coop? Is it pine, grass, or straw? Perhaps it's sand?
While all these bedding materials have remarkable benefits, none match the versatility of hemp. It may come as a surprise, but hemp bedding for chickens is the all around best material you can use. In this article, we explore why and how you can use it in your chicken coups.
Benefits of Hemp Bedding for Chickens
Hemp Bedding is a Highly Absorbent Natural Product
One of the qualities of suitable bedding material is its absorption capacity. No matter how much you love your chickens, cleaning up their coops can be an awful experience if their bedding is nonabsorbent and porous.
Hemp bedding absorbs about 100% more than regular wood shavings, which means it will keep your chicken coops dry and relatively odor-free. It will make cleaning your chickens' enclosures less undesirable.
Hemp is a Natural Pest Repellent
Hemp is a natural pesticide capable of repelling all sorts of parasites like flies, mites, and other insects. This quality is beneficial if you own chickens since a mite infestation can cause severe problems for you and your flock.
Also, because hemp is so absorbent, you can spray it with natural pesticides like tea tree oil, eucalyptus, and apple cider vinegar. Doing so will kill any parasites resilient enough to invade your chicken coop and keep it smelling fresh.
It Limits Respiratory Illnesses
Hemp is one of the most natural animal bedding materials available. Other chicken bedding materials, like recycled paper, contain phenols that are toxic.
Even wood shavings aren’t really safe. They release acids that will slowly damage your birds' respiratory systems. Hemp is often grown organically, so it rarely contains any toxic pesticide residue, unlike other animal bedding options.
Hemp Bedding is Cost-efficient
Hemp bedding saves money. Since the product is super-absorbent, you can use smaller amounts than you would with other bedding materials.
You also won’t need to change it as often. Hemp’s insect repellant properties will save you time and money since you won’t need to address pest infestations.
Hemp Bedding is More Sustainable
As earlier mentioned, hemp is usually grown in a pesticide-free environment. So, it is cleaner, safer, and more sustainable.
How is Hemp Bedding for Chickens Made?
Hemp bedding comes from hemp hurd, which is made from the inner fibers of the hemp stalk. To make hemp hurd, you need to extract the inner woody parts of the hemp stalk.
This may be done manually or with specialized machinery that extracts the cores. This process eventually produces hemp hurd, which is what you may use as bedding.
Hemp hurd has several other uses besides bedding. You could combine it with lime to make hempcrete, which you may then construct chicken coups. Hempcrete structures are lighter than concrete but more resilient to earthquakes. They’re also cost-effective and biodegradable.
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Where Can I Get Hemp Bedding for Chickens?
Carolina Coops Hemp
Carolina Coops offers specialty hemp bedding, which is ideal for deep-liter henhouses. It is remarkably absorbent, dust-free, compostable, and sustainable.
It’s advised to start with one or two bales for deep-liter henhouses. Carolina coops prices their hemp bedding at $75 per bale.
American Hemp Bedding for Chickens
You may also purchase hemp bedding from American hemp. The hemp bags are shipped in economic quantities of two or by pallet. You will need to fill a contact form on their website for price quotes and delivery fees.
Can You Use Cedar Shavings for Chickens?
No. Cedar shavings aren’t safe for chickens because of the harmful effects of lactic acid, terpene hydrocarbons, and aromatic compounds, which will harm chickens' respiratory systems, livers, and circulatory systems, respectively.
These harmful substances are spread through the air your chickens breathe. Cedar shavings release tiny dust particles whenever they're disturbed.
It’s these particles that spread the toxins, and your chicken will breathe them in, no matter how well ventilated your coop is.
Although Cedar's harmful effects may not manifest for months or even years, it can be pretty lethal. Chicks raised on cedar shavings often die, and adult chickens will likely fall sick.
Exposure may present as asthma, coughing, wheezing, and mucous membrane inflammation (Rhinitis).
Can You Use Cat Litter for Chickens?
No, you can’t. In fact, it’s arguably the worst choice you could make for chicken coop bedding. Your chickens will be tempted to peck at it and eat it, leading to digestive problems or even death.
Besides, cat litter is a lot more expensive than traditional alternatives like hemp, sand, or straw. It also produces large amounts of dust, which isn’t suitable for your flock.
Is it Okay to Use Cardboard Bedding for Chickens?
Yes, it is. Cardboard bedding, at times referred to as horse stall bedding, are thick cardboard pieces that have been shredded into chips. They come in huge bags. If handled correctly, cardboard bedding can last for 4-6 months.
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Cardboard bedding is a bedding material because it is natural and easy to clean. Chickens can’t swallow large pieces of cardboard. They may peck at it in the beginning but quickly lose interest in the first few hours. It is also dust-free, so you won’t need a mask while putting it down.
Can You Use Grass Clippings for Chicken Bedding?
Yes, but it depends. You may use grass clippings from your lawn, but that is only if they're really short and dry. To dry your clippings, you could shovel them into a tarp or the back of a pickup truck, then leave them to dry in the sun.
Flip the clippings every few hours until you're sure they're dry, then add them to the chicken coop.
While grass is not very absorbent, it is a valuable addition to almost any other bedding type. It is compostable, free, and highly suited to the deep litter system.
Final Thoughts on Hemp Bedding for Chickens
We've learned in this article that hemp is one of the best all-around bedding materials you can use for your chicken. It’s organic, cost-efficient, and highly absorbent, so there's no reason why you shouldn’t add it to your coop.