One of the main expenses in chicken ownership is providing bedding. Since clean, fresh bedding is of the utmost importance, keeping a constantly flowing supply is absolutely necessary. During winter months when cold weather is present, chances are you will go through even more bedding trying to keep your coop warm. When you consider all the bedding used and later thrown away, it makes sense to have a system in place to get the most use out of bedding before it must be discarded.
The type of bedding used by individuals is bound to vary based on accessibility in your area and the prices for which bedding is available. Once you have obtained bedding, placement is key to making it last as long as possible. Step one in preserving bedding is having a manure box.
Manure boxes are great additions to coops to make cleaning easier. They work in much the same way as a cat\'s litter box would; chickens roost above the manure box and when they relieve themselves, the waste falls right into the box. From there it can be scooped out or the entire box can be dumped periodically. Having a wire lid or metal grate over the box itself will also help with cleanliness and preventing the spread of salmonella and other such illnesses as it will keep any curious chickens from finding their way directly into the box and spreading feces around.
With a manure box in place, it is time to consider bedding rotation. Does it make sense to bring fresh bedding home and toss it right into the manure box? No! Start the life cycle of new bedding in the cleanest place in your coop, such as nesting boxes. Since your chickens will be sitting in the nesting boxes and you will be retrieving your eggs from this area, you want it to be the location to house the cleanest bedding. After bedding in nesting boxes has gone through a cycle, move it down to floor level. After spending some time at coop floor level, move it to the manure box where it can go on to spend the last of its life cycle getting used to the fullest. If you wish to skip the floor stage, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that as moving slightly used bedding to the manure box area will still get you some extra life out of your investment.
Bedding Location #1: Nesting Box
Bedding Location #2: Coop Floor
Bedding Location # 3: Manure Box
For many of us, it is important to save what money we can how and where we can. Even if the costs you manage to avoid are small ones, they will add up over time. Keeping the bedding rotation going until each load of bedding has reached its maximum potential can be of great savings to you if done properly. The goal here is not to use excessively soiled bedding to house the animals you love, but to get the most good, safe use out of it before that bedding should call it quits, thereby allowing the money in your wallet and bank account some additional life at the same time.