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hay vs. straw in run

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone,
Just wondering if anyone is using hay or straw on top of the snow in their chicken run?   I'm thinking of putting something down - then raking it out when the snow melts ... that is if it ever does melt thidunno

post #2 of 17

Yup, you can certainly do that. Some chickens will be more outdoorsy that way.

I would recommend that if/when the hay or straw gets pretty skanky and a thaw begins, if you think you are going to have to remove it, remove it sooner rather than later, because it is EVER so much easier to remove when the packed-snow surface beneath it is still basiclaly frozen than when everything has gone to mud adn glop. Note that it is WORK to remove really sodden pooey hay or straw from the run. But, can definitely be worth doing in some cases, even so.

Good luck, have fun,

Pat

post #3 of 17

I have a tarp over the run so that not as much snow gets in. We have been getting tons of snow lately in CT (multiple feet at a time) but only a couple of inches get into the run.  I put hay down before the snow. The chickens like to scratch it up and eat the seeds etc. Then when it snows, I take a rake and "fluff" up the hay and the snows falls through it so the chickens will come out. Much easier than shoveling for them. I periodically give them a square or two more to scratch up  as well. It works well now that everything is frozen but I do worry it will get smelly and gross when the thaws begin.  When things begin to warm up I will probably remove most or all of the hay and put it in the brush pile. I don't really want to compost it because I think I'll get alot of weed seeds that way. After a few years on the brush pile it should be good to be used for gardening.  The chickens like being outdoors but not in the snow so the hay works for me. I might try straw next year as that doesn't have the seeds that hay does. Hope that helps.

post #4 of 17

I thought I read somewhere on this forum that hay is bad for chickens because they eat it and it gets stuck in their system. No??

The Emancipation of the Irrational LauraJean...
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The Emancipation of the Irrational LauraJean...
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post #5 of 17

Mine like the grass/alfalfa mix. They love to scratch it around and pick at the small bits. smile
Nice yolk colours too, and nothing gets "stuck".






http://i994.photobucket.com/albums/af69/yellowjacket_ca/chick%20project/01.jpg?t=1294637990

post #6 of 17

I specifically feed a really green, with lots of tiny leaves Alfalfa hay to help keep my yolks yellow.  They love it and it causes no trouble at all, it is just dried grass/legumes.   There is a lot of nutrients in it as well.    Now, how to keep the combs from freezing on a few of my roos who insist on staying out no matter what temps it gets.

Before living by the "early bird" policy, first determine whether you're more like a bird or a worm.
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Before living by the "early bird" policy, first determine whether you're more like a bird or a worm.
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post #7 of 17

lotzahens: I think Vaseline helps to prevent frostbite on their combs(it 'insulates' & prevents freezing).

I have used Straw in my run for a long time and use hay inside the coop for nesting, I have never had a problem with the chickens or ducks eating it. they do love the little Alfalfa flakes/leaves though smile

LF BBS Wyandottes, 1 chihuahua(izzy), 1 mouse cat(inky).
"Not all of Gods creatures are cute & cuddly but they have just as much right to be here as you and I."
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LF BBS Wyandottes, 1 chihuahua(izzy), 1 mouse cat(inky).
"Not all of Gods creatures are cute & cuddly but they have just as much right to be here as you and I."
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post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurajean 

I thought I read somewhere on this forum that hay is bad for chickens because they eat it and it gets stuck in their system. No??


So far so good. The chickens have never shown any ill effects from the hay. I have seen them scratch it up and eat the seeds but haven't seen them actually eat the hay itself. If they have they are sure pretty healthy and happy despite it. Was this a concern when chickens lived in the barn with all the other livestock who ate hay not straw? I doubt it. Chickens are pretty flexible and smart...I have noticed they avoid plants listed as not good for them so hopefully they do the same if hay might hurt them. My main concern is weed seeds in the garden. I hope I'm not wrong but so far the hay has worked for me. I just want to be able to compost it and I think straw might be the better choice next winter.

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurajean 

I thought I read somewhere on this forum that hay is bad for chickens because they eat it and it gets stuck in their system. No??


That seems to be brought up every now and again, but we give our birds whole bales of alfalfa/grass mix and I've never seen it happen.

post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurajean 

I thought I read somewhere on this forum that hay is bad for chickens because they eat it and it gets stuck in their system. No??


Alfalfa is a legume not a grass.  lots of good dried tidbits in leaves and seeds on Alfalfa.  Its also hugely saturated with minerals. 
smile

deb always learning  I will get it done "After coffee before Spring"

Water management discussion      Coop rebuild 

Regarding the horses in our lives

 

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deb always learning  I will get it done "After coffee before Spring"

Water management discussion      Coop rebuild 

Regarding the horses in our lives

 

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