There’s a reason why the worldwide sleep industry is one of the most lucrative. Everyone cares about getting a good night’s sleep.
Of course, chickens will normally sleep on a roost. But, they also spend a good deal of time in and around their bedding too!
So, if you’re wandering down the bedding aisle at your local tractor supply looking at the twenty different bedding options and you come across aspen shavings, you might just want to pick some up and try it out yourself.
Here’s whether aspen shavings are a good bedding for chickens, including all the pros and all the cons, and whether they’re actually better than the classic chicken bedding: pine shavings.
Why Bedding Matters For Chickens
Common folk who haven’t been enlightened by the experience of raising their own chickens, may be asking: does it REALLY matter what bedding chickens sleep on?
But, for we dedicated chicken owners who will stop at nothing to raise the happiest and healthiest chooks, we know bedding DOES matter for chickens.
Having the right bedding material clearly improves the lives of our chickens by providing:
- Increased Comfort: A comfortable chook is a happy chook.
- Absorbency: absorbing any excess moisture from their coop or from their droppings!
- Insulation: Providing much-needed warmth on those extra cold winter days!
- A Hygienic Environment: Reducing the risk of disease or infection amongst our flock.
Not only this but providing superior bedding for our chickens can also mean a clean and odorless daily egg collection too!
Characteristics Of Aspen Shavings
Aspen shavings are much like pine shavings, cedar shavings, or even hemp shavings, simply being a thinly shaven byproduct from their respective trees.
In the case of aspen shavings, they come from a common species of tree found around North America and Europe. They’re pretty light, fluffy-ish, and pale in color.
Much like other chicken beddings, aspen shavings are kiln-dried, reducing their moisture content to further prevent mold or bacterial growth when they are finally used as bedding.
However, here’s the kicker as to why aspen shavings may actually be the most superior wood shaving for chicken bedding.
Unlike cedar or pine shavings which have been rumored to cause respiratory disease in chickens from the toxic constituent: plicatic acid, aspen wood does not contain this potentially harmful compound.
Are Aspen Shavings A Good Bedding For Chickens?
Let’s cut to the chase.
Aspen shavings are a great bedding for chickens.
Aspen shavings are lightweight, super absorbent, and have pretty good insulation too. They don’t accumulate dust and are highly effective at eliminating nasty odors, which is such a blessing for your daily egg collection!
Their also highly compostable, so when you’re spring-cleaning the coop you can simply shovel the aspen shavings right into your compost pile!
Are they the best? Well, it depends on what you prefer and how you’re using it. But, I’m convinced they’re one of the best wood shaving options out there.
Pros Of Using Aspen Shavings As Bedding For Chickens
Here’s exactly why aspen shavings are so good as a bedding for chickens, without any nonsense.
Believe me, you want absorbency.
Aspen shavings, being kiln-dried come ready to absorb any moisture, whether it’s from a damp coop in a humid environment, or from the droppings of your chooks.
When it comes to hygiene, the more absorbent, the better. After all, moisture is a key catalyst in mold or bacterial growth.
In general, chickens and chicks have relatively sensitive respiratory systems. In fact, respiratory disease or distress is the number one reported problem in backyard chickens.
Aspen shavings, being a bedding that accumulates less dust is one further step in the right direction at preventing any harm to our beloved chooks.
You never really consider odor to be a problem until it’s very, very apparent.
Really, if you leave chicken droppings too long in the coop you’ll be hit with a waft of some of the foulest smelling, nitrogeny fumes you could ever imagine.
Having a bedding that helps eliminate any odors goes a long way for both the odor and the hygiene too and aspen shavings do just that!
Offering a comfortable, warm bedding for your chickens can work wonders for managing their egg laying, encouraging them to lay their eggs in the right places and not in a nest of their own making!
Aspen shavings aren’t prickly. Just like any other wood shaving, they easily take the pressure of a chicken’s weight and form a natural “bed” for them to sit and lay their eggs in.
Cons Of Using Aspen Shavings As Bedding For Chickens
With anything in life, just as there are benefits there are often downsides too.
Unfortunately, it seems aspen shavings are almost always more expensive than other wood shaving options – even as much as TWICE expensive.
I would love to say that your aspen shavings will last you twice as long, but really any wood shaving tends to last just as long as the next bedding for chickens.
So, it’s pretty clear you’re going to be more out of pocket buying aspen shavings over other classic chicken bedding.
One other issue I’ve come across is the general availability of aspen shavings compared to pine, or other bedding options.
Unless you’re buying online, it’s sometimes hard to actually find aspen at your local Tractor Supply or animals good store.
Luckily, aspen shavings last a long while when kept in a safe and dry location so you can always stock up!
Are Aspen Shavings A Good Bedding For Baby Chicks?
Just like their suitability as bedding for fully-grown chooks, aspen shavings are a prime bedding for baby chicks.
Aspen shavings are probably the best wood shaving option for your baby chicks, being super absorbent and extra gentle on their undeveloped respiratory systems, not having any toxic compounds, and being low in dust content.
Why Aspen Shavings Are Better Than Pine Shavings For Chickens
In my view, aspen shavings are far superior in their quality to pine shavings, despite coming with a much higher price tag.
Here’s exactly why aspen shavings are better than pine shavings as bedding for chickens.
There are those that absolutely adore the smell of pine, don’t get me wrong.
But, most people (even those who like it) can agree that the pine scent can get pretty potent in the coop, especially if it’s small or isn’t well-ventilated.
On the other hand, the aspen shavings scent is quite tame in comparison. You still get the odor control and nice woody scent, without any crazy piney potent smell.
The most compelling reason why aspen shavings are better than pine shavings for chicken bedding is due to the safety concerns of pine.
You see, pine’s intense aroma comes at a price; it contains a known toxic constituent known as plicatic acid – also found in cedar wood shavings.
Even though this rumored toxicity to chickens has not been proven there are far too many studies indicating the potential dangers of using wood-based materials as bedding for chickens, particularly pine, being the most potent.
The one exception to this safety rule is when using pine needles as chicken bedding, as opposed to pine shavings.
How Often To Change Aspen Shavings
It’s hard to say conclusively how often you should change your chickens bedding, as it really depends on how many chickens are using it, and what environment they are raised in.
However, there are a few things to look out for which will indicate to you that your aspen shavings are ready to be changed, usually occurring every two-three weeks or so.
I would recommend changing your aspen shaving bedding whenever it becomes damp or it visually appears heavily soiled. One or two droppings will be normal, but if you can literally see a good number of droppings within the shavings, then it’s time for a change!
Although aspen shavings are a bit more expensive, if they are still within your budget they are clearly superior and safer than cedar or pine shavings as bedding for your chickens.
They literally tick all the boxes for use as suitable bedding for chickens, being super absorbent, comfortable, low in dust, and plenty insulating – not to mention they help control odor without emitting a powerful odor themselves (like pine!).
If you choose aspen shavings, I’m sure your chickens will thank you for it!