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Monday, June 30, 2014

Sawdust or Shavings for Chicken Run Mulch

Last year after harvesting the chicken litter from the chicken run for use in growing Tomatoes we were in a quandary. What to use as bedding, having used the last of the sawdust. For a number of years sawdust had been used from a 15 cubic metre delivery. It kept the run dry in wet weather and over time became rich in nitrogen from the droppings but very slow to break down. It was time to try some alternatives.

The first ingredient was dried cow pats. Being a bit dry and hard it took months for these Pumpkin sized wads to break up and after some rain things got a bit mucky underfoot.

The next addition was dried out silage. Fine for a while but eventually it broke down and became mushy.

Jean reminded me the other day that it was a bit smelly in the run after the last lot of rain. Discussion resulted in a new plan. Rather than sawdust it would be wood shavings to see if the breaking down process would be any faster.

20 cubic metres of shaving fluffiness requires covering against the wind

The shavings have arrived and are very fluffy and being so means 20 cubic metres of them is much less after compacting than sawdust. So be it. The other difference is the smell. These shavings have come from a joinery and are not the usual Eucalypt based material. It smells and feels like there are various timber sources which will make it interesting.

The proceeds of the chicken run are required at the end of August for the Tomato bed. This means that there can't be a lot of shavings incorporated into the run because there just isn't enough time for a bulk lot to break down.

What all this tells you is that despite having a proven set of techniques and standard routines which have worked over decades it is never too late to ignore common sense and experiment with the unknown.

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