This reader’s question is from Bobbi, who recently became a faithful reader of Go Gingham. Bobbi shared with me that she’s ready to get disciplined about being frugal and is on a financial cleanse. Love it, Bobbi, congratulations and great job! Bobbi writes, “We started chicks this year and we are having fun. Here are my questions: Do you add the pine shavings into your compost? I wasn’t sure if that was ok or if just the poo was supposed to be added. Were do you get your oyster shells and when should I start giving it to the pullets, who are about 14-weeks old? And, do you just have a composting pile or do you actually have a compost bin?”
Do you add the pine shavings into your compost, too?
Yes. When cleaning the chicken coop, just take all the pine shavings and chicken poo and put it right into you compost bin. The pine shavings/poo mixture needs to work through the compost before you add it to your garden. Don’t put the fresh pine shavings and poo directly on your plants. It’s too strong for them. Yes, I speak from experience here. I should clarify, my kids put the pine shavings and poo in the compost. It’s one of their weekly chores.
Where do you get your oyster shells and when should I start giving it to the pullets, who are about 14-weeks old?
My oyster shell comes from the local to us (Portland, OR) Urban Farm Store or Concentrates. Most feed stores sell oyster shell. I buy it by the pound but you can also purchase it in 50lb bags. Laying hens need oyster shell for the calcium to help them make egg shells. It’s not very expensive (about 75 cents a pound). You can crush up and toast your old egg shells in a toaster oven and give those to your hens. I don’t recommend this. The one and only time I did this our kitchen smelled terrible. My kids were comparing the smell to ….. well, you can probably imagine. If you want to go this route, toast the shells before you give them to your chickens. You don’t want your hens to get a taste for fresh egg shells because then they’ll want to eat their newly laid eggs.
I’d start giving your pullets the oyster shell now. Even though they’re not laying yet, it can’t hurt them. We sometimes mix a little chicken scratch (also available at feed stores) into the oyster shell but don’t mix too much. Chicken scratch is like candy for chickens and we want those hens to have a well-balanced diet, not a junk food diet.
Do you just have a composting pile or do you actually have a compost bin?
I have 2 compost bins. When we bought our house 17-years ago, the previous owners had a 3-sided open compost bin that we eventually replaced with 2 covered compost bins. With our open compost pile, we had a rat problem and Vector Control came to our house and verbally spanked us, left us with a VHS video to share with our neighbors, and told us to get covered compost bins. We’re not much into rats so we quickly get compost bins and began using them immediately. When setting up your compost bins, make sure you put hardware cloth (pictured below) underneath the bin. This will keep rats out.
Having 2 compost bins is really helpful for our family because we only have once a month garbage collection and we have a very small garbage can. We also have really great compost that we mix into our dirt every spring for our vegetable garden.
Bobbi adds, “Thank you for your commitment to people who need to hear your ideas and thoughts about how to live without constantly being in need of things.”
Bobbi, you’re so welcome and thank you for reading Go Gingham!
Go Gingham related links:
Find all the readers’ questions here or ask one yourself here
Once-a-month garbage collection
A house re-do project with once-a-month garbage collection? Yes – here!
Are backyard chickens right for you? What are the good and bad points of backyard chickens?
You may fall in love with backyard chickens like we did!
Chicken coop basics can be found here and setting up a brooder for chicks is here