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Bedding for chickens

PUBLISHED: 15:19 14 April 2016 | UPDATED: 16:09 14 April 2016

Birds on fresh bedding

Birds on fresh bedding

Archant

Terry Beebe looks at the ‘bedding’ products available for your chickens

Distributing bedding on the hen house floorDistributing bedding on the hen house floor

Let’s clear up any confusion straight away. Poultry ‘bedding’ is in fact the material on the floor of the hen house, not the material in the nestbox itself. Correct bedding is important for poultry welfare and disease prevention. Damp bedding needs to be avoided as it encourages bacteria, some of which can be harmful as it releases ammonia that can damage the birds’ respiratory system and general health.

Wood shavings

White soft wood shavings are one of the most popular bedding materials. Shavings provide insulation from the cold ground during harsh weather. They can usually be bought in a compressed ‘block’. Make sure the shavings are ‘dust extracted’. info@philipsbrothers.co.uk 01621 893400 or 01473 313063

Easichick

easichick is a dust-free fibre bedding made from recycled wood and has been designed specifically for all types of birds. It will help protect the health of your birds and is also biodegradable. Another great advantage is that it does not blow away in the wind. easibedding.co.uk 0161 301 6600

Unibed

Unibed is made from finely chopped straw. It is put through a rigorous dust extraction process and then treated with a non-toxic disinfectant that is anti-viral and anti-fungal. It is suitable for all types of housing from the back yard to intensive farming. The bedding rots down very quickly compared to other wood based products helping to keep waste to a minimum. Unibed is available on Amazon

Chopped cardboard

Chopped cardboard is another good option. It is more absorbent than shredded paper and does not get as compacted as paper or straw. It can be composted and is also dust free. Ecobale.co.uk 01353 725888

Aubiose

Aubiose is popular as it lasts longer than shavings and also rots down quite quickly. It can be added to the compost heap making it simple to dispose off.

Made from 100% natural hemp, Aubiose is dust-free and perfect for poultry. It is much more absorbent than straw and shavings and has natural fly repellent qualities. Aubiose decomposes, trapping odours and it produces an organic fertiliser. www.aubiose.co.uk 01295 750094

Smart Chick

Smart Chick Premium Woodchip Poultry Bedding is dust free, organic and biodegradable. It is economical to use, lightweight, easy to handle and eco-friendly. info@taylormadepoultry.co.uk 01752 426422 or 07514500888

Soft Shred

Soft Shred is a quality wood-based animal bedding produced originally for the equestrian and poultry market. It is dust extracted, biodegradable and made from 100% recycled wood with high absorbance. 01621 893400 or 01473 313063 info@phillipsbrothers.co.uk

HempBed-E

This is chopped hemp bedding with added eucalyptus. It is a natural, dust-free, quick to compost, sustainable, eco-friendly product. It has odour eating properties, is highly absorbent. The eucalyptus offers a natural way of freshening up your hen house. It is also a mild decongestant which can also kill airborne germs. It absorbs up to 12 times more liquid than straw and four times more than shavings as well as having natural fly repellant qualities. This bedding makes cleaning easier and leaves the chicken coop smelling fresh. info@flytesofancy.co.uk 01300 345229

Bed-Down

This is chopped and dust extracted wheat straw with a pleasant lemon fragrance. The traditional variety is economical and easy to use and is perfect for nest boxes. Rapasorb is chopped oilseed rape straw has a pleasant fragrance and is durable and absorbent. info@bed-down.co.uk www.bed-down.co.uk 01986 785278

Smartbedz

Smartbedz is an eco-friendly organic chicken litter made from straw that is compressed into pellets. It is 100% organic making it suitable to use as a fertilizer in the garden. It is heat treated to kill bacteria and lice. Smartbedz.co.uk 01473 356134

A useful addition

BioDri is produced by Biolink, the company behind the well know Poultry Shield and Diatom products. Whilst it isn’t exactly poultry bedding, it is very useful as an additional product to absorb moisture. It removes odours and harmful ammonia and so helps prevent the spread of diseases. www.biolinklimited.co.uk 01759 303444 - 01759 303158

NOT IDEAL

Sawdust

Sawdust is very dusty and can cause respiratory problems.

Straw and hay

Straw can be used as a bedding material although it compacts easily and isn’t very absorbent so will need to changed regularly. Chopped straw is acceptable and it does compost quickly.

Using hay for bedding is not recommended due to the fact that it soon becomes damp and causes fungal spores. This causes aspergillosis.

Shredded paper

Shredded paper can be used as bedding but it compacts too easily and is not very absorbent. The absorbency will depend on how thick the paper has been layered. If it is used, it needs to be changed regularly.

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