When the Chips are Down
Woodchips for bedding

Woodchips for bedding

November 26, 2014

I am trying a new experiment. I am very short on straw for the animal pens. I am saving what I have for baby piglets this winter. I tried to find sawdust, but that too eluded me. Then, I came across an opportunity to use woodchips. I have not tried them before, but them seem to be working out pretty well. I will be more informed tomorrow when I clean the pens.

The chips will provide carbon, like the straw, to absorb the free nitrogen in the animal manures. I just don’t know how absorbent they will be. Perhaps I will need to use a larger quantity. I know that they will compost slower than the straw and have a little lower pH, but they are free. I will use them carefully making sure the animals especially the horses don’t eat them. I use them in the tie stalls for the drafts, so I don’t see a problem.

I think I will use some lime stone in my compost pile to help offset any negative impact, but first I need to see how they work. The cow’s sleeping area is piled thick with the chips. I let the sows out every day to root through the bedding. This rooting is incorporating the manure while fluffing the cow’s bed. I am thinking that as the rotting/composting process starts, the cow’s bed will be a warm place to lay on a cold night.

Experimenting with methods and trialing new things is what makes small farming fun for me. So in this case, when the chips are down it is a good thing! Probably not quite as good as when the chips are chocolate, baking in the oven, melting into a cookie…but almost 😮

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