Hemp bedding for chicken coops is a fantastic addition to your chicken enclosure. Like humans, your animals require a warm, sanitary, and cozy place to rest at the end of the day. Hemp is a premium material that helps in various ways, as we’ll explore in this guide.
What Is Hemp Bedding?
You’ve likely heard of hemp being used in an assortment of ways, from beauty products to clothing. Interestingly, this natural material is also an excellent consideration for your chicken coop. For thousands of years, hemp’s natural properties have assisted with insulation, crafting textiles, and more.
The natural features of hemp are what make it as luxurious of a bedding choice as it is. Also, it can be grown without the need for synthetic fertilizers or insect repellants, making it safer for your animals. One of the unique things about this material is that it’s taken from cannabis plants.
Specifically, hemp is the hurd of a cannabis plant or its stalk. When crafted for animal bedding, the stalk is mulched to create a texture that resembles straw. After processing, it feels remarkably soft and has significant absorbent properties.
What Are the Benefits of Hemp Bedding?
With an idea of what hemp bedding is, let’s explore some of the great things it can bring to your chicken coop. There’s no doubt it’s one of the best inexpensive materials that your animals will love nestling into. Not to mention, hemp is one of the easiest materials to work with as a chicken owner.
The most considerable benefit of this material is that it has strong absorbent properties without the need of a filler. Not only is absorbent material essential for the comfort of your animals, but for the cleanliness of their enclosure as well. With hemp, you’ll find that cleaning your coops is simpler since the material absorbs waste and moisture.
Compared to standard wood shavings, a popular option with many chicken coop owners, hemp is twice as absorbent. This advantage helps ensure that cleaning your coops takes less time and that your animals will have a dry and warm environment.
There’s no doubt that pests can become a significant problem in a chicken coop, especially without regular maintenance. The naturally absorbent hemp properties can help limit the number of times you have to turn bedding material. Also, it’s well-known for being naturally pest-repellant, even without the need for additional treatments.
If you’re the type of chicken owner that prefers a more holistic living environment, this benefit is essential. You won’t have to worry about using chemical treatments to keep your coop free of insects and other pests. Also, there’s no need to search for bedding materials that have been pre-treated with repellants.
Hemp’s natural composition is mainly known for preventing mites. If you find that you need extra help with pest protection, it’s best to consider natural pesticides. Eucalyptus, apple cider vinegar, and tea tree oil are three affordable options to ward off pests.
Reduced Respiratory Issues
When searching for bedding materials, it’s crucial to choose a material that will keep your animals safe. Chickens are particularly susceptible to airborne particles that can cause respiratory illness.
Many of the bedding options on the market contain phenols, which are toxic compounds released from wood shavings. Unfortunately, phenols can make their way into your animals’ respiratory systems and can cause gradual damage. By opting for hemp as an alternative, you can avoid the need for toxic materials that can impact their health.
As a farm owner, one of your primary responsibilities is to ensure you maintain a sustainable farm. Adding hemp bedding to your animal enclosures can be a fantastic option for the environment.
First, it doesn’t require pesticides to thrive, which significantly reduces your environmental impact. Also, once you’ve cleaned your coop, the material composts quickly, especially compared to other materials.
There’s no doubt that hemp is a far better alternative to synthetic bedding options. It’s also important to note it composts faster than wood shavings, making it easier to give back to the environment.
Managing all of your animals can be a time-consuming project, and it can also be expensive. That is why it’s important to find cost-effective materials that can help you save money. Considering hemp grows reasonably well independently with minimal intervention, there are fewer overhead costs during manufacturing.
The straightforward harvesting process helps make the cost of the product significantly less than other options. Also, since it doesn’t require pesticides and other chemicals, it helps lessen the cost. When compared to other options, like wood shavings, hemp bedding is a far more budget-friendly option.
What Are the Disadvantages of Hemp Bedding?
The research into using hemp bedding for chickens is just beginning, so there are few disadvantages to note. There’s no doubt that chicken owners agree it’s one of the top-tier materials to choose, especially as it’s dust-free. Currently, there’s only one disadvantage that could be an issue to consider when using hemp bedding for chicken coops.
It’s important to remember that hemp bedding is mainly known for its absorbency. Although this feature is essential for making coops easier to clean, it can also mean bacteria can thrive. With that said, hemp has natural anti-microbial properties when it’s cleaned regularly.
It’s too often that chicken coop owners take too much time between cleanings due to the convenience of hemp bedding. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that bacteria will thrive in the warm environment hemp offers. It’s best to stick to a regular cleaning schedule to prevent this from becoming a significant issue in your coop.
Are There Alternatives To Hemp Bedding?
With all of the advantages of hemp bedding, it’s hard to imagine why alternatives are still being used. With that said, there are several other options that you can take advantage of when choosing a bedding material.
Sand is a popular option for chicken coops because it helps maintain low levels of insects. Also, sand is quite absorbent, similar to cat litter, so it makes chicken coops easier to manage. With that said, it’s crucial that you look for medium sand rather than play sand.
Play sand is very dangerous for chicken coops since it can cause cancer with extended exposure. On the other hand, medium sand is an excellent animal-friendly option that maintains low levels of pathogens.
Generally, there are a couple of issues that sand poses, including the fact that it’s usually very dusty. As earlier mentioned, dust can affect the respiratory system of your chickens, so it’s best to avoid it. Also, sand is weighty, especially when wet, which makes cleaning your coops more of a hassle than necessary.
Many farmers agree that chopped straw is a mid-tier option when it comes to animal bedding. It’s lightweight and easy to use when you’re looking for a material with high absorption properties. You’ll also find it’s a better alternative than sand, as it produces little to no dust when used.
That said, chopped straw isn’t known for releasing water well. As it absorbs water, the material stays wet until you replace it with new, clean, chopped straw. Also, since it stays wet, it’s known to harbor bacteria without pesticide treatments.
One of the more popular alternatives to hemp is cedar shavings. This material has a unique scent that you’ll likely remember if you walk into a pet store. Cedar shavings are often used for hamster enclosures, rabbit enclosures, and chicken coops.
The problem is that the extractives in this material are known to be particularly toxic. Phenols are one of the main compounds you’ll want to keep out of your chicken coop to prevent respiratory distress.
Farmers still opt to use cedar shavings for their coops because it’s known for its lightweight texture and absorbency. Another benefit of cedar and other wood shavings is their insulation, especially in cold climates. There’s no doubt that your chickens will stay warm, even without heating, with wood shavings.
When you’re in a pinch, it can be tempting to consider paper products as a bedding material for chickens. There’s no doubt that this material is lightweight and harbors less bacteria when compared to wood shavings. It’s a good option for a short-term solution, but you’ll notice the significant issues paper products have over time.
The first disadvantage is that the material retains moisture, which means you’ll be cleaning your coop more often. Another is that paper is prone to mold and bacteria production, especially when it’s damp and warm. Thirdly, it is naturally flammable and likely to release ammonia into the air with chicken waste.
Hemp Bedding for Chicken Coops: Final Thoughts
Choosing hemp bedding for chicken coops can transform the way your chickens love their enclosure. With its high absorbency and natural benefits, it’s a fantastic solution to protect your animal’s health. Also, it’s one of the most comfortable materials that they’ll love relaxing in at night.