Has anyone tried putting a layer of hay etc in run?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Godiva, Apr 23, 2009.

  1. Godiva

    Godiva Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 17, 2007
    Colorado
    I thought I read somewhere (?) that someone puts a thick layer of old hay down in their chicken run for the chickens to scratch through for the winter and then use it in their vegetable gardens the next growing season.... Is this possible? Does mold grow in the winter? I guess it would depend on how cold it is.... Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone had thoughts on this idea... it seems such a waste to just put down sand or gravel. I want them to have access to bugs and seeds etc but we have a LOT of hawks, coyotes, dogs, foxes (you get the idea) so that I can't freerange our birds unless I am there to watch over them, and not with half and eye either! I do throw grass clippings from mowing in as often as I can and I try to collect something fresh from the property every day... but you know how that goes, sometimes I am just way too busy [​IMG]
     
  2. MoodyChicken

    MoodyChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Northern California
    The hay won't mold unless it gets wet. I put alfalfa and grass hay in the coops sometimes, they like to eat it and play in it but I don't think it's a good bedding. Plus, mites and lice can hide much easier in hay.
     
  3. Dawn419

    Dawn419 Lost in the Woods

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    Apr 16, 2007
    Evening Shade, AR
    I've been bringing home loads of dried leaves (from a garden pond project) and adding to the run. We're getting our spring rains and the leaves have really helped to keep the run from being so muddy.

    I have used hay before but it's gotten quite expensive. The leaves are free so that's been a better option for us.


    Dawn
     
  4. melissastraka

    melissastraka Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 26, 2009
    Hoquiam, WA
    I use hay in my runs for mud control but I change it out of the coop ATLEAST once a week and more in the winter. I just through it in my compost pile and add it to my garden in the spring.

    edited to say: I also use grass clippings from our landscapers. the girls love the fresh grass.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2009
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Some BYCers have had problems with chickens getting impacted crops from grass hay. (Many others haven't, of course).

    Certainly you can chuck organics into the run for them to rummage around in and pick through. I use hay sweepings in the winter and everything nontoxic from the garden during the summer. You just want to keep an eye on the moisture and mud quotients, because organic stuff will decompose and gradually make any existing mud problem worse. Mold is not usually a problem unless you dump in a big wet pile of stuff and it starts to mold before the chickens can spread it around. So, don't do that [​IMG]

    When you rake the stuff back out of your run to replace with fresher stuff, it makes excellent compost [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  6. IggiMom

    IggiMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2009
    West Virginia
    Gosh I have been using hay in my coop always, including deep bedding in the winter. I never knew there could be all these problems from it. I haven't had any of the problems.[​IMG]
     
  7. Godiva

    Godiva Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have access to free hay that got rained on etc. Being South Carolina we get plenty of rain and I wasn't sure if it was going to be a problem. If I do it I won't be able to clear it out every week!! I have WAAAYYYY too much going on without doing that much extra work!! [​IMG] So if it goes in it would be for a month or more....

    So if I put it in in relatively small quantities and they can turn it all over that would work ok? I think I am going to give it a try and just keep close watch on the situation for any mold etc. I have old hay bales lying around outside the coop that they LOVE to scratch around in when I let them free range.
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Sounds like a reasonable timetable to me. You just don't want it getting nasty/smelly/flyey (when? depends how wet your run and climate are) or decomposing into fine organic muck (takes at least six months, often more)

    Just be careful that this hay is not *moldy*, which is bad for chickens' lungs and yours too (most rained-on hay is moldy, to some degree or another; but some was reraked and left to dry thoroughly again before being baled, and although it will be an odd strawy color and not have much nutrition it is perfectly fine for chickens)

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     

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