the meaties pooooooooop a lot! a lot, a lot, alot which means that their bedding gets soiled quickly which means that their living quarters needs to be cleaned daily which means you go through bedding like there is no tomorrow. well the fact is that there is a tomorrow and that bedding is not cheap so the costs of raising the meaties could run steep in a very short period of time.
the good news is - there are options and if you plan ahead or prove crafty you can find bedding materials for free.
now is the time that many cities are grinding up christmas trees and offering out the wood mulch for free for those with the means to transport it home. my little town does not perform such a service yet. i've called and asked and they said it's in the works but not up and running yet. hmmpf? this year, next year? i guess they do grind them up but the mulch is not yet distributed. ok, at least the trees do not go to waste. good.
so no grounded holiday tree for me, what then? well i go foraging for bags of leaves. i've been pretty lucky - knock on wood - in the past. just yesterday i drove by a whole pile of leaf bags. i'll be heading up that way this morning to stuff the car full them. i usually grab bags of leaves for composting matter and i guess this is the same plan but with a hyper dose of nitrogen in the mix. there is a middle step now which is the few weeks stay in the meatie coop.
my number one reason i love foraging for bags of leaves is that the contents are 1oo% natural. bags of leaves often turn out to be a mix of leaves, pine needles, grass, tree trimmings and bits of dirt - a combination that really kick starts the composting process. another good thing about bags of leaves is that the chickens really love rooting around in them which helps me because they till in their poop keeping the place cleaner for a fraction of a second longer.
the thing you have to watch out for in bags of leaves is trash. make sure that you kick the stuff around a bit and pull out any bits and pieces you don't want the chickens chewing on. paper, cigarette boxes, bottle caps, screws, nails, wrappers, chipped paint, etc. if you watch out for the danger bits then you're good.
there's one more thing to watch out for. you'll want to start paying attention to who sprays their yard with chemicals and who does not. i've been watching how folks take care of their yards for a few years now. i notice on my morning and/or afternoon runs. it's a great cover for scoping out yard care - sound crazy? nope. i know the bags of leaves i would not touch with a ten foot pole from those that i can trust. knowing what's natural and what's not means a lot when you are making efforts to raise safe and healthy food sources.
sometimes the leaves i find a big and flat and clumpy. those are the leaves that i throw out on the ground and over a few times to break them up before using them for bedding. the smaller bits work better, absorb more and pack down less which are all positive characteristics for good bedding.
it's not the right time of year for bags of grass clippings but they work too. fresh grass clippings are sometimes wet and will clump so open up those bags and allow them to dry out a bit before spreading them around. once they are dried up a bit they will work well and prove a very soft bedding for the creatures.
i'm sure there are other good bits that people find. i'd be interested to hear about them. every day is a lesson, so throw out your best tips and let's see what we come up with.