The Christmas Holiday has come and gone at our house. This was the first year that our children did not get up at the first crack of dawn to rush to the living room while screaming, “Santa Came!” It was a bit of a milestone I must say, and I was feeling a bit nostalgic for the Christmas past, not that we did not have a great Holiday, because we did, but it was…different.
In years past, we also kept our tree up until after the New Year. I love the soft glow of the lights and the coziness it brings our home. This year, is a bit different. I am being a little more practical, we have had really nice, unseasonably warm, weather. To take advantage of the weather break, it was time to process the Christmas tree and add another layer to our chicken coop.
Pine shavings are the bedding of choice in my coop. I find that they are absorbent and break down well in our deep liter. Pine needles have high levels of acidity and also work well in the liter. They add texture for your chickens and they aid in the biological process that is happening in the liter. (For more on deep liter)
There are some equipment issues to turning your Christmas Tree into shavings. If you do not have a power wood chipper, you can still utilize the wood as fire wood or if you have a want or a need to chip away with a hatchet or shave away with a hand plane, do it by hand. We chose to use a chipper. The tree still has to be broken down into manageable pieces according to the chipper you use and the directions on how to use the machine. It is important to clear the tree of any decorations, lights and tinsel before adding it to your machine. While processing the tree, we save the thinner branches for their pine needles.
Now that you have a ton of pine shavings and needles, what do you do? Can they go straight into your coop? Well not necessarily, you have to let them cure a bit. When working to make bedding in your coop, you want to put in as dry of a product as possible. This helps to keep moisture and mold down. We are taking advantage of the weather by laying the shavings and needles on a tarp and letting them sit in the sun. We can easily move this into our garage at night or if the weather takes a turn.
We will do this for about 3-5 days of sunshine, the time may lessen in the heat of the summer if you do this at a different time of year. The size of your chips/shavings will also factor into the drying time. The thinner the chip or shaving the faster if will dry in the sun. I also find that the thinner the chip/shaving, the more absorbent it will be in a chicken coop.
If you live in a region that pine trees grow rampant, like Michigan, you can also scavenge the forest floor for dried pine needles that the trees have shed naturally. These work in chicken coop bedding as well. I love being able to use what we have on our little plot of land.
If you are taking down your Christmas tree, you may want to look at the parts that you can save and use for your chickens. They will welcome added textures and stimulation from scratching the new bedding gives during the stark winter. Our birds have enjoyed being out in the yard on these nice days over being cooped up…pun intended, but love to scratch about in the pine.