Straw - Good or Bad? What's your take?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by TheSpiceGirls, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. TheSpiceGirls

    TheSpiceGirls Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 6, 2010
    Bay Area, CA
    I'm sitting here in my living room next to my Jersey Giant who spent the day at the vets office. She was clearly not right this morning and her crop was all squishy and bloated. I took her to the vet who ran some tests. He didn't feel she had an impacted crop but had clearly eating a fair amount of straw and an excessive amount of sand and pebbles. He gave her some meds and something to help break up the mass and push it through the system. So she'll spend the night inside in a dog crate.

    My question is, do you use straw?
    Have you had issues w/ your chickens eating the straw?

    I had read not to use it when they were chicks because they might eat it. So I only bought a bale of straw 2-3 weeks ago. My girls are 9 months old. And while I saw her with some pieces in her beak, I just didn't believe that she was really eating it. So I've spent the evening raking up as much as I possibly could from their run.

    I'm so upset with myself because I did this to her. The only reason I bought the straw was to give them something to scratch in. There was no other purpose. I had been putting big piles of leaves out there for them to play in. But leaves are tough to come by this time of the year.

    I'm curious what your take is on straw.
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Don't like it for bedding...never really had a chicken eat straw or hay in the coop, but it just might be appealing enough to eat to a bird that doesn't free range. In a run I'd place some bark mulch or sand for scratching into. In the coop I'd use pine shavings.
  3. grandmaof5

    grandmaof5 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2009
    Central N.S.
    Agree that straw is bad; shavings for me...
  4. Cindiloohoo

    Cindiloohoo Quiet as a Church Mouse

    Dec 19, 2009
    Southwest TN
    I generally use shavings or leaves. I have used straw, but never had an issue with it myself [​IMG] Sorry about your bird, it's really not your fault, your intentions were good. [​IMG] Lesson learned [​IMG]
  5. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    I built a straw bale coop earlier this year so my girls are surrounded by it. Part of several bales also form the nest boxes. I've had no issues with my girls eating the straw but perhaps that is because they also free-range the backyard all day long? I guess grass and bugs taste better than straw so they haven't bothered with it. I dunno....[​IMG]

    Sorry about your experience.
  6. TheSpiceGirls

    TheSpiceGirls Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 6, 2010
    Bay Area, CA
    Thanks All, Coco was still really lethargic this morning and I feared the worst. But she ate some mashed up food and then some banana. And then finally after a very long 12 hours, it started all coming out the back end. And about two hours ago, she started going crazy to get out of the crate. I was thinking I should keep her cooped up a bit longer but it was clear, she wanted out. So I took her out to her run and she ran over to her sisters and told them all about her wild adventure.

    I raked up as much straw as I possibly could. Obviously, there are micro bits here and there imbedded into the dirt into their run. But hopefully not enough to tempt her to eat it. And I'll never put down straw again.

    I also just ordered and received a kit for growing sprouts indoors. She LOVES her greens so maybe I can sway her away from the straw and onto the sprouts.
  7. southerndesert

    southerndesert B & M Chicken Ranch

    Jun 17, 2011
    Morristown, AZ
    Glad things are better for your hen...

    Have always used straw as nest box filler and mixed with the pine shavings in the hen house and never have had a similar issue.

    Our birds also free range half the day, they will eat alfalfa, but have never seen them actually eat hay adult or young, but they will tear it apart while getting their nest just so...
  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    I like straw because it decomposes easier in the compost for the garden. Use shavings only when I have to.

    Seems like when a chicken decides to start eating weird things, it doesn't matter much whether it's straw, shavings, sand, feathers, junk, etc. They sometimes get weird and it isn't always possible to blame the victim, ie what they decided to munch on. Who know why they do these things sometimes. Shrug.
  9. NYRIR

    NYRIR Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2010
    I don't like straw just because it is harder to clean up IMO.I have used it when it is all I could get but right now I am using hay in the coop with no problems.My flock also free-ranges all day. Glad your hen is better [​IMG]
  10. TheSpiceGirls

    TheSpiceGirls Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 6, 2010
    Bay Area, CA
    Thanks All. Sounds like it's impossible to predict when you might get a chicken who decides to eat straw.

    Lots of people use it with no issues what so ever. I had someone else reply off-line that her Jersey Giant eats what's bad for her and gets sour crop too so maybe this is more specific to a breed than just a behavioral thing.

    I only have three hens so it's easy to spoil them and I do spend quite a bit of time with them and you'd think I'd be able to notice that she was eating straw. At least I was able to catch the first sign of her being off and get her into a vet who could treat her while she still had her strength.

    I think I'll be using the rest of my straw in the compost or to mulch plants outside their roaming zone.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by