Odd Duck
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Posts: 114
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:34 pm
Location: DFW, TX

Re: Cat Litters

rot wrote:
I think yesterday news does clump but it made the rabbit sick
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Why did it make the rabbit sick? I often recommend Yesterdays News as rabbit litter and have never had a single owner have any problems with it.


As to the bird seed as litter, I wouldn't expect it to clump or absorb well (we sometimes recommend unpopped popcorn as a temporary litter for owners to be able to collect a urine sample from their cat at home), but it can be used to make biochar if you have some that goes rancid or otherwise unusable. Biochar is a great supplement to compost or directly to the soil. Make sure you add it with a good nitrogen source or soak it in a nitrogen source such as urea or fish emulsion or it can "steal" nitrogen from your soil.

Be as green as you can when producing biochar - I make mine only when camping so I'm just using a fire that's already there, I don't build a fire just to produce the biochar. It is also best to make sure you are burning the off-gassing fumes so you aren't adding more emissions to the atmosphere. Search hmmmm, is it "Jason's retort"? You'll find it if you search "biochar". Slightly off topic, but the urine soaked Swheat could be turned into biochar also.
Sharon
USDA zone 7b/8a (depending on the year and microclimate :-)), AHS heat zone 8-9, Eastern Crosstimbers/Grand Prairie ecozones

toxcrusadr
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Location: MO

Yesterday's News is pelletized, which means it's in broken tube-shaped pieces almost as big around as a pencil, and hard. It's absorbent, but not clumping in the sense that other litters are. And the pices are so big that even if it did make a clump, the loose pieces wouldn't pass through the scooping shovel. I found it fairly useless, just because of the particle size.
Tox

rot
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Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:15 am
Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

The rabbit just gone got sick is all

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I don't know why the rabbit got sick. He just got sick when we tried out the yesterday news. Maybe it was coincidence but neither the rabbit or the cats would go near that box. She who must be obeyed made it quite clear that that litter had to go and so it did.

I didn't care for the pellets either.

I thought char was essentially carbon and precious little else and as such, isn't going to break down into anything else. I thought the point of char was to build humus or structure in the soil. Since char is basically elemental carbon, I guess I don't understand how it could steal nitrogen and I fail to see what it could possibly do in a compost bin.

two cents
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Odd Duck
Senior Member
Posts: 114
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:34 pm
Location: DFW, TX

Part of the point of biochar is that it is only partially burned so it is supposed to have many organic compounds that remain - "bio-oils". These are reputed to do many different things for the soil and I'm sure there are better sources for that info than me. What I know, I learned from the web and National Geographic.

The reason it can "steal" nitrogen is also part of why it works as a nutrient sink. Activated charcoal will adsorb chemicals and hold onto them. That's why it's used as part of most water filtering systems. Biochar is partially "activated charcoal" and can also adsorb nutrients and can hold onto them. This is part of why it acts as a slow-release nutrient sink. But, it's got to GET those nutrients at some point and it can adsorb them from your soil initially if you don't "load" it before putting it into the soil. It will eventually give back that nitrogen, but could potentially cause a deficiency in your soil/plants if this "loading" step is not done.

Various sources suggest a variety of different things to add to your biochar before adding it to the soil, but all the info that I found recommend at least a nitrogen source to prevent it from becoming a nitrogen "thief" on initial addition to the soil.

As far as the compost bin, the point would be to hold onto some of the nutrients that might otherwise leach out during the composting process. Biochar certainly seems to have added some tilth to my soil, but since my raised beds now have crazy amounts of compost, it's a little hard to tell how much to attribute to the biochar. I have a relatively small percentage of biochar, since I only make it in small volumes on the camp fire.


On the bunny litter, Yesterday's News is not my favorite litter, but is so readily available I have recommended it a lot. Sorry to hear you had problems with it and I will have to rethink my recommendations.
Sharon
USDA zone 7b/8a (depending on the year and microclimate :-)), AHS heat zone 8-9, Eastern Crosstimbers/Grand Prairie ecozones

DoubleDogFarm
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Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:43 am

Various sources suggest a variety of different things to add to your bio-char before adding it to the soil, but all the info that I found recommend at least a nitrogen source to prevent it from becoming a nitrogen "thief" on initial addition to the soil.
My brothers wood fired boiler, house heating, creates several garbage cans of "Charcoal" per year. I believe there is more to bio-char than this. He runs the charcoal through the chicken house, before introducing it into the vegetable garden. The chickens scratch and poop, adding the nitrogen source.

It seems that the charcoal has mostly eliminated the chicken house smell.

Eric

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