Hay vs straw?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by avodah, Feb 9, 2017.

  1. avodah

    avodah New Egg

    Feb 1, 2017
    I'm getting 30 chicks next week and am debating on the bedding. I have a barn FULL of 30ish year old hay and straw. Some if it is the "silver straw"? I don't really remember the name but I know it is perfectly dried and shiny, I also have very long and fluffy hat and some chopped up looking stuff(not sure if that is hay or straw). In my garden the long hay is very fluffy where the chopped stuff is much more dense and easy to cover with. Can anyone advise me which would be best? Again it is 30 years old and there is TONS and TONS of it. Thanks!
  2. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 14, 2012
    Conway SC
    I do not like hay because the poop lays on top of it and they tramp through it. I would get a bag of wood chips like Tractor Supply has then the poop will get mixed in with it Or I have used sand---nothing else, but its heavier.
  3. MasterOfClucker

    MasterOfClucker Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2016
  4. dheltzel

    dheltzel Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 30, 2013
    Pottstown, PA
    I use both hay and straw because it is cheap. Go ahead and use up what you have, if you have to use a bit more or clean it out a bit more often, you can smile when doing it thinking about how much money you are saving.
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  5. Little Fuzzy

    Little Fuzzy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2016
    I have used both Staw and wood chips. Straw works ok, but, yes the poop kinda sits on top of it more than the chips. The chips will dehydrate the poop better. I think I did clean out more with the straw, but if it's free I would differently use that up before going out and buying wood chips. As far as the hay, you have to make sure it really is dry and there is no hidden mold. If it's been outside for 30 yrs I don't see how it couldn't have mold. Mold is very deadly with chickens i've learned. They also will tend to eat hay I guess and there have been info here about sour crops due to hay eating.
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    The dust in hay that old would be tremendous. I'd forego that hay. Large flake pine shavings are cheap and good for that purpose...a good 3 in. layer of chips in the brooder and then just sprinkle fresh on top of the poo each day so you won't have to worry about cleaning it out over and over.
    1 person likes this.
  7. SJ

    SJ Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 13, 2010
    Babies need clean dry litter. Use the old hay as nest box lining for your future layers or grow earthworms with it. The old hay sounds like a problem in the making if used for chick bedding. Very fine chopped straw is ok but it too needs to be free of molds. I use an aspen horse bedding in my brooder. It perfect sized also a little cheaper than the pine shavings.
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  8. Hay is feed for livestock......Straw is a bit hard for chicks to walk on.......Pine shavings are the best.....provide grit because they will eat a bit of the bedding.....

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  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I'd be wondering what might be in that old hay and straw....mold and fungal spores, animal droppings, who knows what.
    Could blow up into some major organism growth once it got wet...probably not good for baby chicks.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  10. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I'm with those who've cautioned against using this old material. As aart points out, any number of badies can be lurking in this old bedding - deadly molds, botulism spores just waiting for the right conditions to morph into a deadly toxin, rodent droppings infected with Hanta virus, not to mention fine dust that could seriously tax a chick's delicate respiratory system. And yours, too.

    Spread the hay or whatever it is on bare soil and it will encourage moisture retention and help new grass to grow, retarding erosion. Or compost it. It will break down into soil in no time and will be a perfect acidic balance against the hot nitrogen of all the chicken poop you will be getting.
    1 person likes this.

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