Thursday, March 25, 2010

Coffee Chaff Chicks

Early this morning, I headed over to Wandering Goat Coffee Company.

After buying two fabulous vegan herb bagels (OMG--sounds bleh, but sooo delicious!), I went in the back and got coffee chaff.

I've been trying to think outside the box when it comes to my chickens. First, I don't want them to cost me a TON of money. But, I also want them to be healthy and happy. Secondly, I'd prefer to use local sources for raising them. Just because it's a challenge, and well, it's better for everyone.

Coffee chaff is a biproduct of the coffee roasting process. It's the very soft paper that surrounds the coffee beans. Think of a peanut-- it's not the hard shell part, but rather, the papery covering on the actual nut. Hopefully, that analogy helps.

I had read somewhere to confirm that coffee chaff is good bedding for chickens, so I decided to check out Wandering Goat. I called a few weeks ago, and they told me what days of the week to come by. Now that my hens are bigger, I decided to try the chaff this morning.

I got two big buckets.

It looks wet in this photo, but it's actually SUPER soft and dry. Very fluttery. It's much softer and has no splintery bits when compared to pine and straw. I think it will wick out the moisture better than pine and straw also.

While I'm in the laundry room, here are a few photos of my peas. Aren't they huge? These are green arrow peas from Park Seed. The heat lamp from the chicks makes the peas just grow like weeds. I gotta get them in the ground ASAP!

Bad, overexposed closeup of the peas. And yes, those are homemade paper pots!

And, when I walked in with the chaff this morning, here is what I saw:
Yes, those are two chick heads-- the wyandottes are 2ish weeks old right now, which means they're big enough to hop on TOP of their food and water bowls. So that's what they were both doing, and poking their little heads over the top of the bin. I think I may soon need some wire mesh...

See? Look how big they're getting!

Anyway, I headed out with one of the chaff buckets to my hens this morning. As soon as I let them out, they always file out of the coop and immediately head for the water. I don't put water or food in the coop due to cleanliness reasons. They're only in there for a little while at night, so I think they can manage not having food and water while they sleep. So here they are, slurping up the water.

Closeup shot of thirsty hens...Yes, I know... they're getting bigger every day!

And here is their hen house with the chaff. One hen was curious enough to investigate. and she was squeaking with delight. I'll probably come back to it all over the place, but eeh, that's the price to pay for happy hens.

What's great is that the entire hen house only took half a bucket. (and look behind their ladder; you can see the curious little hen investigating)

Anyway, I'll provide updates soon. I'm pretty darn happy with the stuff so far. Local, organic, healthy for the hens, free, and easy to handle. Oh, and it smells good. Kind of nutty.

Oh, and for those peas that are huge? There are about 300 more of various types outside, ready to be planted. Yesterday, I made pea bed #1. I need to staple gun string to the A-frame, but you get the general idea.


  1. Hello,

    I just stumbled across your blog. It looks great. We, too, have been using coffee chaff for our hens and so far it's been a fantastic success. My biggest complaint is that it's so light that it floats into their water dish, but since yours is outside you've nicely avoided that problem. I've heard the chaff is really great in compost, as it breaks down quite quickly.