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Rolled hay, alfalfa hay, grass hay, Timothy hay- What the hay?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by LilBizzy, Nov 21, 2009.

  1. LilBizzy

    LilBizzy Chicken Storyteller

    May 20, 2008
    I saw someone on here used rolled hay for their run in the winter- to help protect little feet from cold, and something to peck at. Our local classified offer horse hay, and the different hays mentioned in the title. Does anyone use these in the run? Does anyone know the difference? Will grass hay have the potential to go to seed, or is it just "hay" made of dead weeds? Can I use any of these for the chickens?
  2. ibpboo

    ibpboo Where Chickens Ride Horses

    Jul 9, 2007
    always changing
    I have used oat hay, alfalfa hay and grass hay for nest boxes. They do tend to eat it. I'm always saying, ' The chickens ate their beds!' lol
    Well, at least it is always fresh bedding that way.
  3. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    Just use straw or poor quality hay. Call the numbers in the ads and ask what they have for cheap bedding material. There's no sense in throwing good hay on the ground.
  4. oldchickenman

    oldchickenman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 2, 2008
    Parsonsburg Md.
    as long as it nots molded we use what ever is the cheapest just bougth a round bail of oat hay for $10 the other day.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2009
  5. LilBizzy

    LilBizzy Chicken Storyteller

    May 20, 2008
    Quote:Where did you get that from? Sounds like a good price!!
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    By 'rolled hay' I am thinking you mean they got a roundbale of hay and unrolled it in the run? Which I know some people do. There is nothing actually special about roundbales vs square bales (although small squares are much lighter and easier to handle than even the small roundbales - *large* squares and *large* roundbales run more in the 400-1200lb range, too big unless you have a tractor or can roll the whole bale through an extra-wide gateway in the run).

    Round or square is independant of the type of hay (it's just what equipment the farmer used to bale the hay). The major types of hay from a chickenkeeping standpoint are 1) alfalfa, 2) alfalfa mix (i.e mixture of alfalfa and grasses), 3) a whole variety of types of grass hay, and 4) saltmarsh hay (available only in a few regions). Another choice is straw -- thicker, more golden, stemmier stuff that is the baled stalks after a grain such as wheat has been harvested from them.

    Alfalfa, saltmarsh hay and straw will pretty much not carry seeds that will be viable in your garden or lawn or wherever. The other kinds almost always DO, often to an exciting degree. OTOH if this is in a chicken run, having seeds in there is kind of a GOOD thing, certainly not a negative anyhow.

    You do not need good hay for chickens as long as it isn't moldy. Be very clear that you can't be havin' moldy hay. Rained-on but thoroughly dried before baling is FINE, and is probably a good option if you find it because it will (should!) be cheaper than good nutrient-rich hay. Beyond that, since you want it basically for its entertainment value not nutrition, whatever you can buy cheapest that isn't moldy inside the bales will be fine. Bear in mind that although most people who use hay do not seem to have problems, a nonzero number end up with chickens with crop impaction on hay, so it is something to keep an eye on.

    Good luck, have fun,

  7. alycoop

    alycoop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 7, 2009
    Vancouver WA
    I went to my local feed store and purchased one square bale of straw hay which was the final cutting of a local grass hay.
    It was more than adequate to layer my outdoor run area.
    The hens love to scratch in it and it keeps the area from getting muddy. It also makes the area look more attractive than dirt/mud.
  8. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    I just spread 12 bales in the barn and the hens are having a heyday. [​IMG] nyuk nyuk
  9. gottalovemychickens

    gottalovemychickens SaveAChickenRideACowboy

    Quote:Where did you get that from? Sounds like a good price!!

    $10 a good price ??? i dont think so , ours is about $5 bale ea
  10. LilBizzy

    LilBizzy Chicken Storyteller

    May 20, 2008
    Pat, thank you so much for explaining the differences !! Looks like we will go with the grass mix, and hope the little buggers keep entertained.
    I know they love when we throw in a bale of straw hay- it can keep them entertained for days! They scratch it all over, and at night I rake it back into a pile. Next day, repeat!! Look like the grass hay might give them added entertainment- all that scratching and they might get a seed prize.

    Hey mac, my chickens want to know if they can come over for a play date !

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