Can Chickens Be Afraid of Hay?????

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by citychickinthecountry, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. citychickinthecountry

    citychickinthecountry Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 14, 2009
    Gainesville, Florida
    Twice now, I have tried to put hay in my chicken's coop. I had been using shredded pine bedding, which they have been using with no problems. So, tonight, after I cleaned their coop, I put some pine bedding on the floor, then put one nest in the coop.

    When I put the chickens back in the coop, they all freaked out (all 4 of them). [​IMG] They immediately flew out of the coop. Then I tried to put them back in one at a time (after gently talking to them and holding them). I'd set them each in the nest or near the hay while touching them to show them it was okay, but I still got the same reaction.

    If they are afraid of the hay, what alternatives can I use (because I will be putting them in a new coop that is about 20 times larger than their current coop and I can't afford to line the floor of that coop with pine bedding)? [​IMG]
  2. TipsyDog

    TipsyDog Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2009
    Aregua, Paraguay
    How old are they? I'd imagine that if they have never seen hay before, they might react like that. I've noticed chickens don't like change! They really are creatures of habit.

    When I give my girls a new treat it takes them a couple of days to take to it. For example, I just threw a bunch of apples in the run and they weren't interested. By the 2nd or 3rd day they were picked clean.

    Also, do you have "flighty" birds? My leghorns are alittle skittish.
  3. citychickinthecountry

    citychickinthecountry Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 14, 2009
    Gainesville, Florida
    They are almost 23 weeks old. One has been laying eggs for about a months (but hasn't been for a week now), one started laying eggs about a week ago, and the other two haven't started laying yet.

    I thought that by putting just a nest in their coop, it would get them used to hay...maybe I should just put a few sprigs of hay in the coop each day and slowly increase it??? Think that would help?
  4. CityGirlintheCountry

    CityGirlintheCountry Green Eggs and Hamlet

    Jul 7, 2007
    Middle TN
    I put some wheat straw in for the girls to play with and they completely freaked out. Acted like aliens had landed in the run and were getting ready to rip their wings off. You have never heard such fussing and carrying on! Withing 15 minutes they were busily scratching through it to find the wheat heads. When I went back that night they had spread the hay around the run. Silly chickens.

    Just FYI- straw in the coops gets yucky really fast. Pine shavings really are a better bet. They act all freaked about those too for the first little bit. [​IMG] See if you can find a cheaper source. I get mine at the co-op and they are about the same price as a bale of straw and cover the same area.

    Good luck!
  5. TipsyDog

    TipsyDog Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2009
    Aregua, Paraguay
    Quote:I use hay in my coop and have no problems. I would just go ahead and put it in there and leave them. Trust me - they will calm down and start playing in it. Chickens just HATE change!
  6. mstricer

    mstricer Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 12, 2009
    I introduced mine to straw early in their pool brooders just alittle bit it always freak them out at first. Now nothing phases them. Yesterday I cleaned out coop put pine shavings straw, and lots of leafs they didnt even notice. They'll get used to it, Put it in their nesting boxes and in spot in the coop.
  7. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 15, 2008
    Chickens are afraid of everything. [​IMG] I shove a new bag of feed or pine shavings in the coop and chickens explode out of it like something is trying to eat them. Scrape out some dirty pine shavings and something is wrong. Add new pine shavings and it's like little kids playing don't touch the floor. The pine shavings might melt their feet. Add a different colored feeder and they won't get within 5' of it.

    Stick the hay in, wait to see if they get over it, if not stick the chickens in when it starts to get dark, and lock the door. By the time you let them out the next day they'll probably be over it. I empty the coop and stack the bags of new bedding in there then wait for a day of bad weather when I plan to lock them in. Then dump all the bags while chickens squawk and hide on the roosts. By the time they get let out the next day they've had no choice but to walk on the shavings and then they have no problem going back in before dark so I don't have to shove silly chickens in that evening.

    One thing to keep in mind though is that hay isn't actually a good bedding. Neither is straw. They do not absorb moisture. In fact they insulate moisture as well as they do heat. Your coop will be wetter with hay or straw than it will be with no bedding. That leads to smell, mold, and illness. You can add hay to the nest boxes and you can add hay in the winter to help insulate but make sure there is a good absorbent layer under it. When I laid down straw last fall for the winter I put a layer of pine pellets which are about as absorbent as you can get, several inches of shavings, and then the bale of straw. I still cleaned out some gooey spots the next spring and when I started stripping the coop I found all the pine pellets had completely broken down from the amount of moisture that had been held under the bedding. My coop is 170sq ft but I only clean it out twice a year because it stays dry and without smell. Using hay or straw by itself I'd probably have to strip it out every couple weeks except the coldest part of winter and then leave it to dry for a day if I didn't want to be knocked out by the smell when I stood in the doorway and end up with sick chickens. I would never use it in summer. That would just be a mess. I hated putting hay or straw down in foaling stalls when we had pregnant mares because it meant I'd have to nearly strip the stall daily until they foaled and the foal was dry enough to not have all the shavings stick to it. If I didn't empty it daily every area they peed would remain wet even with shavings under it and the ammonia would build until by the time they did foal the level at the bottom of the stall was enough to cause respiratory damage in the foal. With pine pellets they may cost a lot in the first place but by the end of the season I've saved money because I don't even have to remove the wet spots. I just remove the manure and stir the wet spots into the rest of the horse stalls for the pellets to absorb and break down into more fluffy bedding. I barely remove any bedding all winter from my horse stalls and only have to add a couple bags once to each stall before spring. Then again when everything thaws in the spring and there's tons of humidity in the air.

    Also your chickens will eat hay or straw. A dozen of my japanese bantams (very small chickens) can eat 3 bales of straw in a few months over the winter. First that means your hay or straw will disappear much quicker than shavings, good news is you won't have to scoop it out then, and you'll suddenly find your coop bare (I was surprised to find mine only had shavings again after a month when I'd laid down 2 bales of straw) and second if they don't eat it all quickly or you don't empty it frequently they'll be eating wet, =moldy, hay which again means illness and possibly death before you even realize what happened.
  8. b'hamPeeps

    b'hamPeeps Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 14, 2009
    I agree with the above...chickens hate change!

    My girls had a total freak-out when their shavings brand was changed and the shavings were a slightly different color of tan.

    The good thing is, they get over it.
  9. 7cutechix

    7cutechix Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 9, 2009
    East Central Indiana
    When I first put straw in my nesting boxes a couple days after they first started to lay they all were afraid to go inside the coop....I also had to pick them up and put them in while they made all kinds of noises I hadn't heard before. The next day they were fine!
  10. LesGan

    LesGan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 24, 2008
    Columbiana, Alabama
    Used to have shavings on my coup floor and switched to sand. The chickens freaked out and would not go into the coop. I finally "thought like a chicken" and realized that they were confused because it was smooth, all the same color and did not look like the flooring they were used to. I finally raked some leaves and scattered them over the sand to give some texture and light and shadow play on the coup floor and they went right in. After a few days I raked up the leaves a bit at a time and they were just fine.

    You just have to think like a chicken. Put a bit of the new material in the coup and add a bit at a time...we have to get up early to stay ahead of these chickies!!!! [​IMG]

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