Wood shavings are a staple in barns everywhere. Used in stalls and pens, wood shavings are comfortable for animals to rest on, absorb urine and are easy to clean up. They can also be easily composted, instead of sent to a landfill. Pure wood shavings, meaning those without plywood or chemicals, can also be used for mulch at the base of trees and in gardens.
Check with your local authorities and find out if there are any restrictions to you starting a business from your home. You may need to apply for a permit. If you intend to build a separate building to store your wood shavings, you will need a building permit.
Research your market. Go to your local feed stores and garden centers as well as other area stores that sell animal bedding and mulch. Ask the store owners or managers from where they get their supply. Find out if they could use a good, local source of shavings. Also ask what they are paying for their current supply. Since you are more local, you may be able to offer them a lower price to try your product, as it will cost you less to deliver your shavings to them.
Purchase your equipment. To start, you may be able to gather enough wood shavings from area woodworkers or lumber mills. At some point, though, you will want your own supply. Several companies sell machines that are specifically made for the purpose of creating wood shavings. If you want to use some of the wood and not make it all into shavings, you should consider an electric planer. An electric planer will plane your lumber into usable pieces while creating good quality shavings.
Find a good source of logs. Logs will be the key to your business, so locate a logger who can deliver your logs directly to you. If you have your own land that you can log out, you can either do it yourself or hire someone to do it. Use a chainsaw to cut your logs into 8-foot lengths. Most equipment can handle a log of that size.
Create good, clean shavings. The shavings you offer your animal bedding clients should be clean, free from glues and chemicals (no pressure-treated lumber) and smooth. Glenn Myers, owner of Myers Premium Wood Shavings LLC, says, "“Dairy and horse people don’t like splinters."
Package your shavings. At first, you can start your business by delivering shavings to your customers in a truck or trailer. Eventually, though, as your business grows, you will want to purchase a baler, which will pack your shavings tightly inside a plastic bag, allowing you to stack them and deliver them to stores.
Promote your wood shavings. You can offer your wood shavings for sale on the Internet by creating a website or selling them on various online auction sites. Head to farm shows and give farmers a chance to see the quality of your wood shavings. Visit feed stores, garden centers and farmers and let them know about your shavings. Make up a price list and business card and hand them out. Offer to deliver wood shavings in bulk directly to farmers who find buying bales of shavings too expensive. Some farmers may wish to save money by picking up the shavings themselves. Let them. Word-of-mouth, particularly in rural areas, is an important method of marketing.
- Pile of wood chips image by max blain from Fotolia.com