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Hay or Straw???

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Country Gal, Jun 4, 2007.

  1. Country Gal

    Country Gal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 2, 2007
    Capac, MI
    I'm getting ready to move my chickens from the garage out to the coop. I had been using wood shavings in the garage, and I was planning on using hay or straw to line the floor with in the coop.

    Does it matter which I use? If I use hay, will they start to eat it and throw off the protein level of their diet?

    Thanks!
     
  2. MayberrySaint

    MayberrySaint Chillin' Out

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    Mar 7, 2007
    Mount Airy, NC
    Better to stick with straw. It will be much more absorbent than hay.
     
  3. 4H kids and mom

    4H kids and mom Cooped Up

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    Mar 10, 2007
    Southern Wisconsin
    Straw is used for bedding, hay is for eating. [​IMG]

    Also, you will want to invest in a wheelbarrow (if you dont already have one) and a pitchfork. You will need to 'turn' the straw once a month or so or it will mash down into a hard layer making cleaning much more work. Also, turning the straw helps maintain a healthy deep litter method. For 6 months, follow these steps:

    Month 1 beginning litter. Layer in this order: pine shavings, straw, shavings, straw.
    Month 2 Turn litter and top with more
    Month 3 Turn litter
    Month 4 Turn litter and top with more
    Month 5 Turn litter
    Month 6 Turn litter and top with more

    Repeat this for the year. Each year, clean the whole thing out and start all over again. There is a section in Storeys' Guide about the deep litter method, and you can find more details about it on here too. You will notice no real odor or back breaking constant cleaning with this method, which is what I like about it. [​IMG]
     
  4. steffpeck

    steffpeck Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2007
    Erda, UT
    4H - Do you do this in your coop that has a wooden floor on on dirt?? Our coop has a wooden floor, so do you just keep piling it up inside the coop?
     
  5. 4H kids and mom

    4H kids and mom Cooped Up

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    Mar 10, 2007
    Southern Wisconsin
    The floor in our coop is concrete...broken old concrete, though so its dirt too. lol [​IMG] Yep, you just keep pilin it up. It gets packed down within a few days by the chickens, dont worry! You wont have litter 5 feet high! [​IMG]
     
  6. Country Gal

    Country Gal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 2, 2007
    Capac, MI
    Thanks for the deep litter directions!

    The biggest problem I'm running into right now is FINDING straw! Everyone around me has hay for sale, but very few with straw. And it seems like the straw is so expensive! I've seen the hay for $2.25 or $2.50 per bale, but I called one place yesterday for straw and it's $3.50 per bale!!!
     
  7. Half-a-dozen

    Half-a-dozen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 26, 2007
    NJ
    Hi all!
    May sould like a stupid question but (being a newbie and all) What is the difference between hay and straw and how do you know if they are selling you the right one or not?

    [​IMG]
     
  8. hencackle

    hencackle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2007
    Telford, TN
    Straw is the remaining stalk after the grain is harvested; hay is dried grass.
    Straw has wider, flattened stalks and is yellowish in color.
    Stephanie
     
  9. 4H kids and mom

    4H kids and mom Cooped Up

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    Mar 10, 2007
    Southern Wisconsin
    Country Gal....make sure you tell the folks sellin the straw that you are not wanting "first cut" straw, which is more money because its fed to horses and cattle. Tell them you need it for bedding, or ask for 'scrap' bales. They shouldn't cost more than the hay, unless the hay is very, very poor quality. If you can't call around and find someone, do what I did. Stop at a farm! Ask them where they get theirs, or better yet, get to know them and ask if you can just buy it from them, since you wont need the huge bales. Many times, large time farmers will even just give it to you. [​IMG]

    cgrn....hencackle is right on. Also, simply feeling it and noting the color of the bales will help you. Straw is dry and rough and yellow. Hay is finer and 'grassy' and green. Sometimes though, the first cut straw will be softer and a little green, so watch out for that. Also, you will find that the bedding, or scrap (left over) straw sold as bedding will most usually have hay and other grasses mixed in it because its the last cut the farmers do on the fields and its just the leftovers of everything.
     
  10. MayberrySaint

    MayberrySaint Chillin' Out

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    Mar 7, 2007
    Mount Airy, NC
    Not sure that I have ever heard of "first cut" straw. When we harvest our small grains, straw is the stalk that is left over after the grain is removed. It is normally used as bedding because it has no nutritional value other than fiber. The best straw is "wheat straw" as it is more absorbent than "oat straw".
    It is very likely that straw is more expensive than hay in many areas because of its scarcity. Not many farmers have planted wheat and oats the past few years so straw is more scarce.
     

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