Hay vs Shavings


10 Years
Apr 29, 2009
Hernando, MS
We currently use hay inside the coop inside the nest boxes and on the floor. I have heard many of you talking about using shavings. We had discussed using shavings because after the hay gets packed of flattened down you can't just remove the soiled section under the roosts; the whole thing wants to come out. So what is your opinion for what works better? If you use shavings, what kind? I have used shavings for my chicks when I got them but I have heard some people say that can irritate their lungs? Is this true for chicks and adult chicken?
Things that work for me:

In the brooder - paper towels initially, then they graduate to shavings
In the pen - sand
Under the roost - shavings sprinkled w/DE

It's what works for me.
Cedar shavings can be an irritant, Pine is what we're mostly talking about. It's looser than straw, and stays that way for a good while because the chickens can easily scratch it up and keep it loose. The straw doesn't do that as well, and it isn't as absorbent. You can avoid a thorough clean out by throwing more in, since the absorbency and chicken scratching just really helps out.

I clean out under the roost frequently, then take older shavings from the floor to put under the roosts, then lay fresh shavings on the floor, like a rotation.

We had noticed an odor coming from the run when we were working on fencing, so we dug out the topsoil and threw LOT's of sand in. We still need more sand, but the odor is gone. Sand dehydrates the poo, and again the natural scratching around by the chickens buries it.
I use hay in my nests and shavings on the floor. I find it stays clean longer and less smell. I sprinkle with DE. The girls tend to scratch through the shavings which mixes it up and helps them get DE on them and help keep things stirred up for less odor.
I have always used hay. A square bale is cheap and easy to rake out of their house into a wheelbarrow and haul it to the compost pen. I use a blower to blow the leftovers out the backside of their house through a trapdoor. I then add fresh hay and lightly sprinkle sevin dust on it and pat it down with a rake. Hay is an excellent insulator. I use it for their nests as well. I clean it out once a week without fail. One bale is good for 4 weeks. Their house measures 6'x 16'. Total time of cleanout/changeout is 20 minutes max, sometimes less if I work faster.
ETA: I live here in the deep south where it's very hot and steamy/swampy most of the year. I've never had a problem with hay becoming moldy or fungus growing on it. If there's proper ventilation in the coop, with the hay changeout weekly or bi-monthly, there will be no problems. I also store the yet unused haybales in water proof plastic garbage containers...like the city uses for garbage collection pick up. No problems whatsoever. I've never had a hen lay an egg in the hay on the floor of the coop, always in the nest. If you use the deep litter method, I dont recommend hay.
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Thanks for sharing your experiences eveyone!

HelloRoe, That is what I am thinking about doing..... Hay in the nest and shavings on the floor.
If you guys don't mind me asking...

For those of you who use pine shavings in your coops, how much does it cost you? Would you consider it to be expensive?

I was planning on using straw, since apparently it doesn't clump as badly as hay does, but I'm not so sure now.
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For what it's worth.

I use pine shavings on the floor and hay inside the nest boxes (I change this often to avoid dirty eggs).

ONE, hay gets moldy and chickens will succumb to mold very fast.

TWO, none of the books recommends hay for the floor of the coop.

THREE, pine shavings keep things drier and is easier to clean.

Four, IMO, I think hay inside the nest boxes and on the floor will confuse your hens that they can lay an egg anywhere and this might lead to egg eating. Not something you want to deal with. I also keep a wooden egg in each box 24/7 though they may need to be washed from time to time.

FIVE, nest boxes should be the right "size" for your breed, they should be small enough for the hen to get in and do her business, they should be dark so she has privacy, this will prevent egg eating and hanging out and pooping in the nest. Some recommend hanging a curtain of sorts over the opening. Communal nests IMO are a bad idea, no matter how cute they look..

Wish you a great chicken keeping experience.


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