Feeding Hay to Chickens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Islandlife, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. Islandlife

    Islandlife Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 11, 2010
    Olympia, WA
    I think I recall reading somewhere that putting a bale of hay into the coop for chickens to nibble at is good. Is it? Would they actually eat hay?

    Mostly I feed laying pellets, BOSS, throw in some cracked corn and oyster shell along with whatever scraps I happen to have each day (which does incluse their own shells mashed up). My girls eat most anything I give them and love to free around eating fresh grass. Do chickens eat hay?
  2. twistedwire

    twistedwire Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 2, 2011
    My hens scratch through my hay and nibble on leaves, but I don't consider it a major part of their diet. It makes them happy though.
  3. homesteadapps

    homesteadapps Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 8, 2010
    The leaves of alfalfa can have protein percentages into the 30's.

    We have hay ground up in the winter to mix with their rations. Keeps some green in the diet.

    We use hay for bedding year round and have never had any problems.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2011
  4. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

    Aug 25, 2008
    I was warned early on, and have also seen on BYC, that hay is not good for chickens. They do eat it, unlike straw, and it can sometimes lead to inpacted crop.
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    The impacted crop is a risk, especially without adequate grit. I use alfalfa pellets as source of greens for confined birds but make certain added salt is minimal.
  6. remuda1

    remuda1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 12, 2011
    Granbury, Texas
    Mine all get alfalfa everyday. The older ones also free range for several hours a day but with our drought even free range greens are scarce. The little ones aren't free ranging yet so I like to make sure they get daily greens. I shake it out on the ground then spray it with the water hose. They LOVE it wet down. By the end of the day, other than the stems it's all gone. I have horses and sheep so I always have alfalfa anyway. The bedding in the coop and the grow out pen coops is hay but I don't find that mine eat it.
  7. southerndesert

    southerndesert B & M Chicken Ranch

    Jun 17, 2011
    Morristown, AZ
    We also feed hay daily in small amounts as we do not have much in the way of green plants here most of the year on our birds free range, never have had a problem related to the hay and helps keep the diet balanced a little better.
  8. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

    May 13, 2008
    Quote:X2 that can happen but when hay is used as bedding it can help as a treat if you can get the right hay. I can normaly find wheat straw hay in the late spring and it's great as it's loaded with wheat seed heads and the birds really like it and it improves rooster fertility.
  9. southerndesert

    southerndesert B & M Chicken Ranch

    Jun 17, 2011
    Morristown, AZ
    We use only pure alfalfa as a feed supplement, but do use straw in the nest boxes.....
  10. andalusn

    andalusn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 6, 2009
    Ridgefield, WA
    In the winter I will give the chickens a flake of green grass hay or alfalfa to scratch with and make bedding. They really enjoy it. When it's old I rake it up and add it to the compost pile. When left to wander the barn they always find a bale to sit on or a pile of leavings to sleep on for a nap. They will pick through it to find seeds and the soft alfalfa leaves. Mine free range daily so finding hay to scratch or eat is their choice.

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