Safe to eat hay?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by PandCo, Dec 16, 2016.

  1. PandCo

    PandCo In the Brooder

    Oct 17, 2016
    Eau Claire, WI
    Is it safe for chickens to eat hay? I was about to put a square bale with the strings on in my run for the girls.

    I was about to get alfalfa hay, but they were out so hay had to be settled with for the time. I will be getting alfalfa very soon.
  2. ChickenGrass

    ChickenGrass Songster

    Aug 16, 2015
    Republic of Ireland
    Hello and :welcome
    I have a mixture of hay/straw in all of my chicken coops,
    And the hens love it.
    They scratch in it and it's easy for them to make nests with it.
    They won't realy eat it but they will play with it and scratch it.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2016
  3. PandCo

    PandCo In the Brooder

    Oct 17, 2016
    Eau Claire, WI
    Well, I did introduce them to the hay a little bit and they seemed to take the opportunity to eat it up. It makes me nervous because I don't want impacted crop or anything like that...

    I was going to leave it in bale form, too. If that's okay.
  4. ChickenGrass

    ChickenGrass Songster

    Aug 16, 2015
    Republic of Ireland
    You could leave in in bale form.
    They will break it down into a big pile
    As they play with it.
  5. Little Fuzzy

    Little Fuzzy Songster

    Jan 16, 2016
    Maybe try straw instead, I've used straw and my chickens didn't eat it.
  6. chickens really

    chickens really Crazy Call Duck Momma

    Yes......Alfalfa is fine for Chickens....It is a natural forage....Do not put out the whole bale...Give flakes....It will last longer....I have Horses and have a few alfalfa bales around...My Chickens and Ducks love the forage......

  7. It is never a good idea to feed Alfalfa free choice. It can spoil and mold quickly. While cows can eat Alfalfa silage safely chickens can not. If you are feeding your chickens laying pellets you are already feeding Alfalfa.

    Either a bale or pile of Alfalfa will continue to ferment or go through chemical changes brought on by the silage process, especially when wet.

    Don''t do it. Chickens are not mammals who suckle their young nor are the chickens' owners supposed to nail iron shoes onto their hens' and roosters feet.

    Alfalfa silage is 80-90 percent protein but it is not the kind or type of protein that chickens need for good health.

    You will do much better giving your birds a bale of wheat straw to use as litter and feeding a proper chicken ration.

    There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

    Hay or straw is ok as a play thing but Alfalfa is not a play pretty.
  8. lutherpug

    lutherpug Songster

    Jan 5, 2014
    Kansas City Area
    I can only speak about my own experiences but I have an Australorp that ate all of the bedding available to her (sand and straw) until I did two things-

    1. Added additional feeders so there wasn't competition/bullying.
    2. Added grit.

    She ended up with an impacted crop and I had to have an avian vet surgically drain/clean it. I've recently added some hay to the coop/run as my shop was out of straw and we haven't had any issues yet. That said, I would personally be concerned if I saw one of my chickens eating their bedding.

    Just food for thought.

    I realize this isn't a common scenario but I wanted to throw it out there just in case. Taking a chicken to the vet for an impacted crop isn't much fun.
  9. AUChickenGal

    AUChickenGal Songster

    Apr 15, 2016
    Alfalfa hay is not silage. Silage is generally made from grain (primarily corn). Alfalfa is sometimes used as a component of haylage, but that product is not as common as silage and neither are anywhere near 80-90% crude protein - haylage is 50-60% water, and silage is 60-65% water. Alfalfa hay is generally in the 15-18% crude protein range, depending on stage of maturity when cut. Properly baled hay should not ferment at all and can be stored for prolonged periods of time with little nutrient loss, unless it gets wet or is exposed to significant weathering (wind/sun).
  10. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I throw mine hay all winter. I use a mixed grass hay. I haven't used straight alfalfa. Never seen any crop problems, and the chickens get some winter forage as well as having something to stand on during cold weather.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: