Should we switch from straw to pine shavings?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cackilacky, Sep 25, 2009.

  1. cackilacky

    cackilacky Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 20, 2009
    North Carolina
    We have been using wheat straw in our henhouse and also scattering a bit around the run to give the girls something to do when they are shut in. (The run is covered.) We clean it out and add it to the compost bin about once a week. Two problems: our compost is now overflowing with straw. Maybe we are using too much? We have cut back. Also, we've had a lot of rain lately and it now smells like something died in our hen house. Should we switch to pine shavings? Can you compost it and how often do you need to replace it? Thanks!
  2. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    I've been using both shavings and straw since May - but am gradually moving to the shavings b/c straw isn't as absorbant and it mats up more than shavings do, IMO. Also, I use DE and have found DE just works better with shavings than it does with straw to keep the coop dry. Yes, shavings compost fine, as long as you have enough nitrogen to break it down. Chicken poop is nitrogen; grass is, too. I use a deep litter method together with DE, so am not constantly adding to my compost bins. I stir the litter, add more bedding and DE every few days.

    The smell comes from being wet. Find out how things are getting wet in the henhouse and try to solve it. If you keep the litter deep enough and dry, stirred up, add DE if necessary to dry out the chicken poop - it shouldn't smell like things died there. If the run is getting wet, add sand so that water drains through.

    ETA -- I should say, if you get DE, be sure it's Food Grade b/c the chickens will eat it and you don't want them ingesting bad stuff.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2009
  3. cw

    cw Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2009
    green co.
    id keep the straw around till after winter
  4. Birdgirl

    Birdgirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 18, 2009
    mites/lice love straw, go to shavings [​IMG]
  5. wombat

    wombat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2009
    Straw tends to be wetter and has more of a smell than shavings.

    You can compost it, it will take longer to compost than straw, but you'll have far less of it as it doesn't need to be changed out as often.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2009
  6. cackilacky

    cackilacky Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 20, 2009
    North Carolina
    Thanks everyone. I think you've converted me to shavings with DE. I'll continue to throw a bit of straw in the run for a diversion, but I'll switch to shavings in the hen house.[​IMG]

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