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Bedding for new chicks- feedback needed — The Grow Network Community
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Bedding for new chicks- feedback needed

Jeanne SpearsJeanne Spears Posts: 27 ✭✭✭

I manage the farm department of a farm/rural oriented chain store, and we are currently selling baby chicks, ducks and turkeys. Prior to this year, chicks were housed in metal stock tanks with brooder heat lamps and pine shavings. Due to a change in ownership, pine shavings (among other things) were not ordered in sufficient quantity, and we were told by upper management to substitute cedar shavings. When I raised an issue about this regarding the toxicity of cedar on chicks respiratory systems, I was told that the hatchery the chicks were being ordered from said cedar was okay to use. I have not found any other hatchery that agreed, considering chicks are confined in a small heated environment, and most confirmed my belief that cedar is toxic to these fragile little creatures. What is your experience/opinion?


  • solarnoon.aspensolarnoon.aspen Posts: 131 ✭✭✭

    I would never subject babes to the off gases from cedar. It is a potent chemical array meant to repel and makes even ME wince sometimes. I have only heard and read about it and a link is here: https://www.forloveoflivestock.com/blog/cedar-bedding-in-chicken-coops

    Sorry you might have to comply to hatchery protocols

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 2,053 admin

    @Jeanne Spears It is commonly known in the chicken world that cedar shavings should NEVER be used for bedding for any birds, chicks or otherwise. You are correct that it is toxic for them. Even some other wood shavings can sometimes have cedar content and chicken fanciers know to be careful to know what is & what is not in the bedding.

    There are many other types of bedding that are suitable. Straw & hemp are good. Personally, I use sheets of newspaper covered with paper towel until I feel they are ready...or I am ready...to move them to straw, but that would be a pain in a hatchery situation. I would really like to try hemp bedding though. It sounds perfect, except for cost.

    Could you possibly give them a list of alternatives? This cedar choice could easily come back to bite them.

    Ask/do a search on backyardchickens.com to see what they would suggest for large quantities of chicks.

  • EarlKellyEarlKelly Penn state master gardener Northeastern Pennsylvania zone 5bPosts: 224 ✭✭✭

    @Jeanne Spears indeed, I would use sawdust before cedar shavings for the chicks. As everyone is saying, a little research for your chicks and find what is available for you. I have even had friends use a paper shredder and white paper to temporarily use. Good luck.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 2,053 admin

    @Jeanne Spears Don't panic if they eat some paper. Chicks do that for fun. I have had many tear up their paper themselves, and they have never had any problems. 😉

  • bcabrobinbcabrobin Posts: 131 ✭✭✭

    Use newspapers before cedar. I just lay the whole newspaper (small town here may have 8-10 pages) down. Ducks have to clean more often but chicks every other day. Have never had a chick die from it.

  • gardneto76gardneto76 Posts: 202 ✭✭✭

    I would try to move toward newspaper as well. I used to get them from a local small town store, Monday mornings. Any unsold newspapers are usually just thrown away or recycled by the store. If you pre-arrange it, they can pull the scanner tags to return to the newspaper company the prove they were no sold, and give you the rest of the paper. I used this paper to shred in both my chicks and guinea pigs cages as a child. It becomes dry cost effective for the store and stops paper from going into the garbage unused.

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 325 ✭✭✭

    They might also want to check with any local firewood milling operations. In our area they give sawdust away for free or very cheap. The sawdust from these are larger bits not as fine and dusty as bandsaw mills. We have used it for many years for our chicks and older birds. Often having multiple cut sizes depending on which type of saw is doing the cutting.

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