Originally Posted by Fancychooklady
Depends largely on the quality of hay. After being in werribee at Aus champs and having to purchase hay I would say that the oaten hay there is no better than straw. I throw a biscuit of Lucerne in to the runs and they love it. If you have mites or lice straw is the worst thing to have in your nesting boxes, unlike hay it is cylindrical and gives the nasties a perfect place to hide.
Tassie is usually very wet and cold during winter and spring and after 14 years of owning and raising silkies I've never had a problem with keeping them dry. Adequate shelter is the key, but I think that can be said of all breeds.
I use hay in my nest boxes and under the perches, it's easier to handle when raking out and once it's full of poop and nutrients , I pile it up around the trees in the garden. Don't get me wrong , I've used straw as well but I wouldn't say that one was better than the other. Just depends what is available to you and what is most cost effective .
Fancy .... not at all surprised at your experience in Werribee at the champs, with the 'hay' !! .... I have experienced the lack of quality and care by some people who run animal shows, and it is quite disgusting. Not all, but some.
I have used pea straw which the girls love to pick at. Haven't had any little 'pea plants' pop up either, or if they have they've been eaten immediately by the girls.
Hay and fresh lucerne is great when you have horses, and / or ruminants to munch on it - with some thrown to the chooks for nibbling on. But is mighty expensive here as it only comes in bales, which would ultimately not last the distance - even if kept inside ( I keep my wood shavings and huge bag of straw of whatever type ) in our storage room inside the house. The lucerne hay and hay from any other source, is expensive - so cost is a factor. I grab pea-straw whenever I can.
Have often looked longingly at rabbit and guinea pig dry foods, in smallish packets in the supermarket. Have never bought any, but always wonder if it would be ok for chickens. I have a sneaking suspicion the answer would be 'no' .... I will try to find some dried mealworms - have not had success with mealworm purchasing to date. Pet Barn may have them, but I think I would end up having to buy on line - something I prefer not to do.
Much as I would love to have silkies again one day - the same problem exists - that of housing. They could only go in with Mindy Araucana ( provided she didn't turn bully-girl ) ... and as she is the one who loves getting soaked, - even her soft underfeathers end up quite damp which is why she comes inside in the cat carrier, after towelling ... to dry off completely, I couldn't trust the silkies to have more sense to stay out of the rain in Mindys' leak proof, totally dry, coop. I imagine they would follow the rain-mad Mindy - out and about in the downpour. And as you said - adequate shelter is the key. Would have to have a new coop and run, completely covered and water proof for silkies - or as I've said before, house them inside and let them out only on sunny days. Not the best way to keep chickens though.
So far, have been very fortunate re mites and lice. I attribute much of this to the deep litter method I use for the coop - as those little microbes keep a whole heap of nasties away ( according to what I have read on-line ), and so far, so good.
As always, thanks for your helpful input.
p.s. - your lupins are stunning, so pretty. Do you stake them or do they stand tall by themselves ?
Edited by Anniebee - 4/11/16 at 9:42pm