Shavings or Straw?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Yello, Sep 22, 2011.

  1. Yello

    Yello Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 29, 2011
    Northern WI
    I currently use pine shavings on the floor of our chicken palace. Would straw be better for the winter? Our winters are very cold. Also we were going to shut it up tight but after reading some comments I'm thinkin maybe we should leave a little open for ventilation. Thoughts? Comments? Thanks!!!!

    Thanks for all your input. I'm located in Northern Wisconsin (Northwoods). I'll stick with the pine shavings as it seems their cheaper than the straw - at least in my area.

    As far as ventilation, my man built an incredible chicken palace with a coppola on top. We were going to close up all the windows up there but now I'm thinking maybe keeping a few open for ventilation. We can get down to minus double digits in the winter so there is a concern for cold. My girls are ~15 weeks old now and every "step" is a new experience. I'm a worrying mama.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Yello! Hello! I like straw for winter. It just seems cozier for them. Going to keep an eye on this thread, because it's a very good question! Thanks for asking....I may just change my mind, depending on what other members say.
  3. Schwartzfarmnc

    Schwartzfarmnc Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2010
    West Jefferson
    I think it is just a personal preference, I use pine shaving flakes about 6 to 8 inches deep because we do the deep litter method and because it is easier for us to clean up and scoop when time to change out, and composts very well, but both choices are about the same in holding in the heat I would think.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    [​IMG] Welcome to the forum! [​IMG] Glad you joined us! [​IMG]

    I don't know where you are from so I don't know what you mean by very cold. If you wish, you can modify your profile to show your general area. That would help us answer questions like this. Chickens handle cold a lot better than you would think. I've had mine roaming around outside at +4 degrees Fahrenheit. The only reason I have not seen them outside when it is colder is that I have not opened the pop door when it is colder. Mine don't like wind, especially a cold wind, and most don't like snow, but I have had some walk through 9" of snow to see if anything interesting is in the compost heap.

    Your risk in what most of us consider cold weather is frostbite. Just like you and me, they are at a greater risk for frostbite if they are damp and a wind is hitting them to create a wind chill. But with their down coat, if they are not damp and in a breeze, they can handle cold weather pretty well. If it is damp, they can get frostbite when it is just below freezing. But if it is not too damp, they can handle temperatures down to zero Fahrenheit or below just fine. At least mine do and others have reported theirs handling much colder temperatures just fine. What you need in cold weather is good ventilation and protection from a breeze. Good ventilation will draw off the moisture they create, either from their droppings or just from breathing. The way you get good ventilation without a breeze hitting them is to have the ventilation openings above them when they are roosting. The main time you should be worried is when they are sleeping. During the day, they should be able to find a good protected place out of the wind.

    Another risk in a coop that is locked up too tight is the ammonia from their poop. Unless you have sufficient ventilation, that ammonia can build up and cause respiratory problems.

    Your type of coop enters into it also. Those small elevated coops can be a bit more of a problem than a coop set on the ground. But a good layer of bedding will provide pretty good insulation.

    I'll give you a couple of articles by a lady in Ontario. They may help you and, with her in Ontario, she should have pretty good credibility with this question.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page

    Cold Coop (winter design) page:

    like pine shavings better than straw. I have a walk-in coop on the ground. The straw tends to mat together so it is harder to clean out than the pine shavings. If you have an elevated coop, that may not be a consideration for you. Either one provides good insulation as long as they are dry.
    Good luck and once again, [​IMG]
  5. chickchicks

    chickchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 28, 2011
    warrington uk
    Quote:wow your knowledge is good [​IMG]

    can i please ask you then

    i have a 6*4 shed on paving slabs the ventilation comess mainly from the gaps betwwen the pannels that make walls higher up though .

    they sleep on the floor and i have 2 adult BO and 3 babies about 6 weeks old

    is this ok or do i need to make better ventilation?

    thanks !
  6. juliawitt

    juliawitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 9, 2009
    My personal preference is pine shavings. I have used straw/hay before, but the girls will eat it and I had one Dom that her craw became impacted. So, I choose shavings. Composts easily and the girls don't eat it. As for ventilation, there are links on the coop design page showing how much ventilation is needed. Ammonia build up is a killer and opens you up to respiratory distress.
  7. Alethea

    Alethea Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2011
    Straw vs. shavings could be a preference based on availability and other things. We use straw. When we change it, it goes to a pile where it eventually becomes compost or mulch for trees. The fun part is after we change it and the chickens come back into the coop. They immediately rearrange it. It is, after all, their house.
  8. homesteadapps

    homesteadapps Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 8, 2010
    Old hay -- not moldy, especially grass hay, works nice too. Absorbs well and makes for great compost. You can often buy last years hay for less than the price of good straw or pine.
  9. clairabean

    clairabean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2010
    Kootenays of BC!
    Shavings for us. Hay/straw seems to grow wet and moldy and frozen. We also live in a very cold winter climate.
  10. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 6, 2011
    Pacific North West
    I love sand in the coop shavings in the Run and recycled shavings for the run on or under straw


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