Rubber shelf liner...you know the stuff. It comes in a half dozen colors and is great at keeping things from sliding around in your cabinets and drawers, keeping stacked dishes or pots from getting scratched, and a million other little things around the house.
We always seem to have a partial roll lying around, which is how I inadvertently stumbled across a couple of other very clever uses for it, all relating to raising our chickens. I love that it's washable and reusable, so much more 'green' than using paper towels or something else you will just throw away when you're done with it. Most shelf liner is even machine washable, so it's super easy to clean and reuse.
Here are five of my new uses for shelf liner:
1) On the bottom of your incubator - To provide a non-slippery surface on the slick plastic bottom of my incubator, it was recommended that I cut a piece of paper towel and line the bottom. Instead, I cut a piece of shelf liner to fit. The shelf liner provides a textured surface so not only do the eggs not roll around and bang into each other when you are trying to candle them, the newly hatched chicks don't slip. In addition, the rubber does't absorb moisture like paper towel does, and won't reduce the humidity level in the air in the incubator.
The newly hatched chicks' little feet need something to grip to prevent injury or spraddle/splayed leg. [Read more about spraddle/splayed leg here...] When all the eggs have hatched and the chicks are dry and in their heated brooder, I simply wash the piece of liner and pack it away with the incubator to reuse the next time.
2) On the bottom of your brooder - As mentioned above, chicks can suffer spraddle leg if they are raised on a slick surface. It is recommended to use sheets of paper towel on the bottom of a brooder. After our first batch of chicks and literally going through two entire rolls of paper towel, I figured there had to be a better solution. There was. Now I used a few layers of newspaper with a piece of shelf liner cut to fit the bottom of my brooder laid on top.
Any moisture or spillage from the waterer seeps right through the holes in the shelf liner and is absorbed by the newspaper and the chicks safely walk on the textured liner.
I cut two identical pieces of liner so each time I clean the brooder box, I rinse off the dirty liner and let it air dry, using the second piece in the meantime, and just keep alternating. When the chicks leave the brooder, I wash both pieces, let them air dry in the sun and pack them away until the following spring.
3) To line your nesting boxes - The hard wooden bottom of your nesting boxes can cause eggs to crack and break if the nesting material isn't thick enough, or as my girls are prone to do, the depression they have made in the straw is too deep. I cut a piece of shelf liner and put it on the bottom of each nesting box. A sprinkle of DE underneath the liner first prevents mites from taking up residence and the liner provides cushioning for the eggs.
4) As nesting box 'curtains' - We women seem to love to sew pretty floral, lace or gingham curtains for our nesting boxes. Functional as well as pretty, they really dress up the coop. Men, on the other hand, aren't quite as interested in how the curtains look and might be more apt to just hang a piece of shelf liner across the front of the nesting boxes to provide a shield to discourage egg eaters and also provide privacy for their layers.
A piece of shelf liner will do the job just fine...and if you velcro the liner on there, you can take it down, wash it and put it back up. [Read more here about the benefits of putting up curtains...]
5) As sprouting jar covers - I've recently started sprouting mung beans for the chickens, and the shelf liner makes a great 'breathable' lid for the mason jars.
Do you use shelf liner for things other than lining shelves? I would love to hear your ideas!