What are the best nest box bedding materials
Choosing the right nest box bedding material to put in your budgies nesting boxes is more important than you might think. It will create the ideal environment for your mother hen and chicks. And there are many different options for nesting box bedding material, free materials like shredded paper, pine needles and sawdust. But you can also get some very high-quality commercial blends.
Budgies are very resilient little birds and will make do with a wide variety of materials in their nesting boxes. In the wild budgies have very simple nests, ordinarily, they just find a hollow branch in a tree. They make their own nesting material by chewing at the wood and bark, breaking it down into smaller pieces to line the nest with.
Even though budgies are happy to nest in most materials, there are some pros and cons of using different bedding materials, so it is worth doing a little investigation. And choosing a bedding material that your budgies are going to love, and just as importantly, will suit your budget.
If you are wondering, can you avoid giving budgies bedding material at all, you can but it is not recommended. Because if chicks spend too much time on a hard floor they risk developing bone deformities AKA “Splayed Foot”.
Having good bedding material will help prevent this, as the hen will be able to “shape” the floor of the nest, making it slightly concave helping prevent splay foot in chicks.
There are many different things you can use to line your nesting boxes, these are the best bedding materials to use in a nesting box?
Paper For Budgie Nest Box Bedding Material
Old newspapers or discarded shredded paper are the cheapest and easiest to find nesting box material. Even paper towels can be used to line the nesting boxes.
Even though paper is cheap and a lot of people use paper as a bedding material it does have some drawbacks. It can be toxic to budgies if it is bleached using chlorine, and the ink used in printing can be harmful. In most cases, you will not have a problem, but there are far better choices. So use paper as a breeding box liner if you have nothing else but are there are far more preferable options available, so don’t use paper as an ongoing solution if you can avoid it.
Cardboard as Nest Box Bedding Material
Cardboard makes fantastic bedding for budgies, the best way to use it is to hang a piece in the nesting box. And allow the hen to chew at it, ripping it into little shreds. This is a great way to stimulate your hen into breeding, this action of preparing a nest is close to what your hen budgie would do in nature.
Natural Pine Bark as Nesting Box Bedding
Pine bark makes a great nesting material, it is relatively cheap and is 100% natural. Watch out for pine bark that is too coarse, the pine chips should be small to medium in size. You want the hen to be able to arrange the bark into a comfortable nesting area for the young chicks. Don’t worry too much if the bark is a little coarse, your hen and cock budgie will chew it up and spread it around the nesting box as part of the breeding preparations.
Pine Needles as a Nest Box Bedding Material
A lot of budgie breeders use pine needles as the liner in their budgie breeding boxes. The bonus to using pine needles is that if you have a pine tree nearby you can get ample supply for free. Some breeders caution using pine needles because they believe the needles could scratch the chick’s eyes. Although I have never actually heard anyone say they have had it happen to them.
Pine Sawdust Budgie Nesting Box Liner
Pine sawdust is a good choice for nesting boxes, it is small enough for the hen to make her nest cozy and comfortable. It is also more absorbent than pine bark so it clumps around the budgie poop waste in the nest. Helping to keep the breeding box clean and sanitary.
Kitty Litter (Bentonite Clay)Nest Box Bedding Material
Cut Hay or Chaff
If you live in a rural area there are probably wholesale stock feeders that will sell large bags of chaff, the kind they use as feed for horses and other livestock. Chaff makes a very cheap nesting box material. Your budgies will nibble and eat it too, but there is no harm in that.
An added bonus is that some blends of commercially available chaff contain added calcium which is great for your budgies while they are breeding, it helps them produce healthy eggs. Mollichaff is one brand that it cheap and has added calcium.
Straw or Hay
Straw is not a bad choice to use in your budgie nesting boxes, it is widely used for larger birds nesting but it can be a bit cumbersome for a budgie to deal with. The budgies will need to chew it and break it down into manageable lengths. This can actually be a benefit when you are breeding because it provides the hen bird with added stimulation. It is still a good idea to break or cut the straw up with a hatchet or clever first, so that it is in shorter, more manageable lengths
Make your Own Custom Nesting Box Mix
If you compare all of the commercially available nesting box mixes they have one thing in common. And that is they contain a combination of different materials. I would suggest that you do the same with your bird’s nesting box material. Don’t stick to one material, give your budgies a variety and let them pick and choose what they want to decorate their nest with. It is easy to make your own custom breeding box blend by mixing some bentonite clay, some sawdust, pine bark, and a little chaff together you can alter the ratio of each until you find a blend our budgies like.
This gives the birds the ability to pick and sort through the material naturally, as they would in the wild, it also allows the hen to nibble and gnaw at some material which is part of the breading ritual.
If you want to get a commercial blend there are several good options available, in good stock, and pet suppliers.