So, someone got on to me for using hay bales last year for insulation...I have a converted dog run, 10 x 10 chain link. The back half has a corugated metal roof (two pieces of corugated metal layed across some 2x2s). The back wall has corugated metal down it, and one side has a piece of fencing to create a corner and act as a wind block. Ghetto, I know, but it was thrown together in 12 hours to protect my last remaining girl after a predator attack (I stay at my parent's house, they work overseas, and dad wanted chickens, but no coop after this, I insisted). This is before the corugated metal back wall was added, but you get the idea. It has 1/2 inch hardware cloth fastened around the bottom, and paver stones to help deture predators. I am working on improvements, but for now, this is what I have. SO, there isn't really much of a "dry" area when it rains, except the back half. Well, someone told me that hay is bad, and that I should try shavings or straw. I tried shavings, but they broke down too quickly, and straw is much cheaper. Now I have had straw in my "coop" since right before halloween. It is already moldy, soggy, and it SMELLS. Now, how on earth something smells so awful in an essentially open cube is beyond me. The smell is wet straw and amonia. No other bedding I have tried is this awful. and to make things worse, the rats are moving in. In the last week, Sai has killed five. I moved stuff around today, and at least that many went running out from under the dog house I have in there for warmth/dry area for the girls. GROSS! I have never had rats in my coop before. What else can I use for bedding? I have to get ths junk OUT of my coop. If I go with sand, what can I expect? Do I use play sand? Wont it harden when it drys after a rain?