Should we switch from straw to pine shavings?

cackilacky

Songster
10 Years
Aug 20, 2009
105
1
111
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!
 

feathersnuggles

Songster
10 Years
Sep 4, 2009
1,120
18
151
Seattle
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.
 
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Birdgirl

Songster
10 Years
Mar 18, 2009
1,078
5
161
Indiana
mites/lice love straw, go to shavings
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wombat

Songster
10 Years
Jun 23, 2009
1,484
9
151
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.
 
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cackilacky

Songster
10 Years
Aug 20, 2009
105
1
111
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.
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