This is one of those problem-solving days, and we are discussing sand for chicken bedding now.
Wood shavings has been a generally acceptable bedding material for farmers. Wood shaving is a waste product of the wood industry, and it is gotten from scraping and dressing wood. Usually, it comes from scrapping the rough outer part of wood. It used to be free. In fact, I still remember some six years ago when all I need to do is go with my sacs and to exchange for the already heaped sacs containing these shavings. But the story has changed. A lot of big players in the poultry industry have a standing order with major saw mills in the country. And when you go there looking for wood shavings now, you should count yourself lucky if they even sell to you. Many of those who sell it to small scale farmers do so in secret, because the big players already paid for it.
What’s the story? Wood shaving is now a scarce and expensive commodity which brings the question about sand for chicken bedding.
Is sand a suitable alternative to wood shavings?
I wish I could rush and answer this question, but you might be holding grudges against me if I do. This is because I might stab your belief in the face. But I will not do that. I want to make sure that we are on the same page when I finally tell you what I think. So, if you want to get an answer to the question “Is sand a suitable alternative to wood shavings,” then hang on. We will dig this together. Let’s start with the qualities that make wood shavings the right choice.
Qualities that Make Wood Shavings the Farmer’s Choice
Remember my story: wood shavings used to be a waste product that was freely given to farmers who needed it in any quantity they demand. But the story changed gradually. They started by reducing the available quantity, then collecting tips, and now, wood shavings has a price tag everywhere. What’s even more disturbing is that you are not allowed to buy it in some places. They will tell you, “it’s sold out.” So, wood shavings was the #1 choice before because it was cheap, but not anymore.
Absorption of Moisture
Another reason why farmers hunt for wood shaving is that we need to keep the chickens as dry as possible. Moisture in the pen or coop is not something you want to allow. Farmers try to prevent disease build-up by avoiding wet floor and wood shavings has proven to be suitable for this. The dryness of the wood shavings matter also determine how much of moisture and how fast the absorption takes place. This quality of wood shavings still remain and farmers would like to get it for this reason.
If you have been to a spot where chickens eat or play on a newly laid bedding of wood shavings, you will agree that there is no better look. Chickens can practically show their excitement when they are put in a clean house with wood shavings. The fly around and enjoy seeing the lightweight shavings follow suit as they flap their wings.
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Yes, before you start to think that it’s all about you, the farmer, let me remind you that it’s about the birds. Wood shavings provide a comfortable cushioning for your chickens’s feet and breast. As opposed to the cage system that promotes bumble foot, wood shavings produce birds with clean legs and breasts. Your chickens can enjoy a sweet cushioning when they eat and when they decide to rest. This is one of the ways to keep your birds happy and growing well.
Free of Debris
When you get your wood shavings directly from the source, it is usually free of debris and contaminants. Things like papers and nylon waste can easily be spotted and removed because of the clear distinction between wood and debris. Shavings are a healthy choice for your birds as they don’t cause respiratory problems like saw dust.
Those of they key reasons why farmers choose wood shavings. Now, the question is, if we can get something else with these attributes, would it be a good alternative?
It’s time to break the myth about using sand for chicken bedding
A lot of people still believe that sand is just not right. Yeah, some of them may be right if they meant fine sand. But when the sand in question is sharp sand with large-size particles, why not?
The issue about using sand for chicken bedding is just a misconception. A lot of people think that it doesn’t absorb moisture, but again, that’s when you choose the wrong texture.
What’s the right sand texture?
The kind of sand we are talking about is not the playground sand. It’s not even the beach sand that you think. It’s the rough, coarse, sharp sand commonly found at the local river side. All grades of sharp sand can also be found where they sell construction sand. Below is a sample texture of sand for chicken bedding.
So, let’s quickly look at some of the qualities that make Sand a worthy alternative to wood shavings.
Sand is super dry
A lot of times, the shavings you get is from woods that are not yet dry, at least not up to 97% dry. But you can get sand with absolutely no moisture at all. This makes for some quick absorption when combined with the next quality I am about to share.
Sharp Sand Has large Pores for Fast Absorption
If you take the time to select sharp sand, then you will get some quick absorption rate compared to fine sand. With sand, the larger the particle size, the better for you and your chickens. So when next you are considering using sand for chicken bedding, make sure the sand is sharp. Sharp enough that you don’t want to walk barefooted on it if your feet are soft and delicate.
Free and Cost Effective
This is another reason to use sand for chicken bedding. Practically, everywhere I have lived in my entire life has access to sand. Though you will not get sharp sand everywhere, but it is still pretty cheap. Even if you will have to pay for really sharp sand, you will only be doing away with some petty cash.
Fast Cleanup when using sand for chicken bedding
With a DIY litter scooper as seen in the video below, you can do a fast cleanup before the next cock crows. I hear a lot of people complain about the weight of sand when they want to pack it. But you don’t have to pack sand litter frequently when you can just come in and scoop out the poop. When using sharp sand, you can easily distinguish between sand and the poop, unlike when using wood shavings. With the use of a scooper, all you get is the poop. You don’t have to remove the entire bedding.
Sand for chicken bedding provides natural grit
Those sand particles that you see in the gizzard of your chicken when processing, yes they aid digestion, and your chickens can get them for free.
So close to natural
Using sand for chicken bedding gives your chickens the feeling of being in a natural habitat. They also get to sand bath and do some fun stuff that their mates are enjoying in the wild. I have the feeling that you don’t want to deprive your chickens from catching this fun experience.
SO, what’s not to love about using sand for chicken bedding? It’s cool, comfortable, cheap, easy to manage, and eliminates mould related diseases.
The only challenge about the use of sand so far is the transportation. You will usually need a truck to move the amount of sand needed to your farm. And since this is a once in a while exercise, it should not be too much to worry about.