Grass/Hay and Straw

Rein Quest

In the Brooder
Apr 29, 2018
49
23
41
Central Wisconsin
So I’ve noticed since getting chickens they love to eat my grass and the piles my mower leaves behind.

Should I have any dietary concerns for it?

Since Winter is coming (que game of Thrones jokes) I wondered if I should get bales to toss out for them to eat/scratch.

I know they love playing in straw because I had to resort to that with the rain making things really muddy in the run this year. They don’t eat that but I think they look for seeds and bugs in it.

If it’s good to feed hays to them maybe I’ll seed a small field to cut/dry for the next winters.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Great Horny Toads
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Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 16, 2015
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We put out grass clipping for birds to pick through. Others say they have troubles but I never have. We also routinely toss the chickens and turkeys slabs of hay throughout winter to forage through and to stand on to get off the snow. I also toss slabs of hay inside my bantam coop to bulk up bedding and give them something to do. I clean it all up come spring.

We generally wait until stuff is frozen to avoid mold growth in the hay. I might not do it in a warmer climate.
 

Rein Quest

In the Brooder
Apr 29, 2018
49
23
41
Central Wisconsin
I live in Wisconsin. I’m already getting the cooler temps that stunt or kill fungi and molds.

This is my first go on chickens. I used to work on a dairy farm and I don’t think the digestive systems are similar between cows and chickens. I don’t want to cause any unintended harm.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Great Horny Toads
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I'm also an ex dairy farmer who lives in Wisconsin. We haven't quite started putting hay outside yet. Chickens will eat the seeds and leaves of hay so finding a good soft second or third cutting is better, but anything with edible forage is good. They won't eat the stems. Our chickens are still foraging in the yard and pastures, but it will stop in a few weeks.

I personally don't see many crop problems. We did put out some straw a few weeks back to bed the goat pen, and after that I had 2 birds with crop problems. We generally don't use straw, but had a few bales we bought for other uses. I don't know if the straw caused the problems, but it sure seemed like it, and I won't use straw again.

We have always used grass clippings as mulch and occasional fodder throughout the summer. I have gone out of my way to give my birds some, but my birds are also not confined so they won't over eat like confined birds may when given them. If your birds aren't used to eating them than go easy.
 

Al Capon

Songster
Dec 12, 2017
332
836
196
Central OK
I turned over the garden and planted Winter wheat, they're loving that, however they can't keep up with it. I'm having to push mow it every 4-5 days to keep it 3"-4" tall.
 

Rein Quest

In the Brooder
Apr 29, 2018
49
23
41
Central Wisconsin
Sounds like it might be worth trying. I’ll make sure it’s small amounts like I do with treats. They’ve had small amounts of yard clippings/grazing all year so maybe a Timothy/Alfalfa mix would be familiar?

I know a couple times I moved the run they ignore the feeder and go wild on fresh grass.

What are the signs of a crop problem?
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Great Horny Toads
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 16, 2015
44,720
78,099
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Wisconsin
Sounds like it might be worth trying. I’ll make sure it’s small amounts like I do with treats. They’ve had small amounts of yard clippings/grazing all year so maybe a Timothy/Alfalfa mix would be familiar?

I know a couple times I moved the run they ignore the feeder and go wild on fresh grass.

What are the signs of a crop problem?
Usually the first sign is a bloated doughy crop, and the birds sits hunched up.
 

Firefoot

Songster
Jul 8, 2018
134
255
131
Baltimore County, MD
Alfalfa either straight or as a mix would be great for overwintering chickens if they'll eat it! I haven't tried it yet (I will this winter) but alfalfa is a great source of calcium and protein. If you can find a soft, not stemmy bale, they'd probably tear it up. But I know at least for us in MD alfalfa is like gold this year and the prices are getting higher and higher, and it's getting harder to find, so you might want to start looking now. If you can't get it or you're priced out, they make alfalfa cubes and alfalfa pellets for horses that you soak in water. The chickens might eat that, too.
 

MANNA-PRO

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