Straw vs. Pine Shavings?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Blue_Myst, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. Blue_Myst

    Blue_Myst Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 5, 2009
    Well, ever since I've owned chickens, I've always used straw as their bedding, no problems so far. Unfortunately, during the winter I'm likely to see temperatures in the teens, so I was wondering if pine shavings might lock in more heat and be more comfortable during this time? My coop has a dirt floor (directly on the ground).

    Also, drainage in my coop is somewhat terrible after heavy rainstorms [​IMG] Big puddles all over the place which I continually have to drain during the rainy season. Straw seems to soak up a bit of the water, but do pine shavings work better?

    One last thing: with pine shavings, are the chickens more likely to make a feast out of it?

    Thanks in advance! [​IMG]
  2. waynesgarden

    waynesgarden Feathers of Steel

    Mar 30, 2008
    Oxford County
    Are these big puddles in the run or inside the coop? Drainage inside a coop shouldn't be a problem since water should never be getting inside the coop in the first place. Standing water and sodden bedding inside the coop is not a healthy situation for your birds.

    I'm hoping you are talking about an outside run. If your coop is flooding, you should consider digging some French drains to divert water away from your coop.

    Last edited: Feb 21, 2009
  3. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    What I don't like about straw is that it matts down so much. It gets yucky and it can harbor mites, etc. in the hollow stems.

    Wood shavings have always been easy to fluff up for me and thus they keep dry and don't matt.

    I agree that you need to figure out a drainage system for your run (I'm assuming it's your run and not coop under water).
  4. willkatdawson

    willkatdawson Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 31, 2008
    I use pine shavings in my coop as well as my horse stalls. I love it in the coop. I use the deep litter method although I must admit I did replace all the shavings after only 5 months. I also use DE and once the droppings have dried and hardened they make their way to the bottom of the shavings. I'm not sure if it works that way with straw or not. I have rubber mats in the stalls and when the horses urinate the shavings soak ALL of it up so it can be taken out.
    1 person likes this.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Shavings let them 'burrow in' a little more closely than straw does (if we're talking regular straw here, not chopped straw) but I would not expect it to be a big difference in their warmth. Personally I find shavings to be a lot easier to keep reasonably clean, though, because they don't glump together and can very easily be stirred around, unlike whole straw.

    Also, drainage in my coop is somewhat terrible after heavy rainstorms [​IMG] Big puddles all over the place which I continually have to drain during the rainy season. Straw seems to soak up a bit of the water, but do pine shavings work better?

    If you have poor drainage (this is in your run, right, not in the indoor coop?) then the main thing is to solve the water input problem. Make sure that roofs (including the coop, yes even if it is small) have gutters and downspouts that direct the water well away from the run; and dig a trench/ditch/swale type thing around the area to divert water elsewhere. If the chickens have compacted/eroded the ground down to where the run has areas below the level of the surrounding ground, you need to add fill to raise it up to (or above) grade.

    I would absolutely not recommend putting shavings outdoors, they will quickly mix with mud and make even suckier smellier longer-lasting mud. Straw is not so great either, although better than nothing... but you have to remove it beforre it starts to rot down or mix with the mud. Best thing is to add sand or gravel when the ground is bone dry. As a temporary measure if necessary you can add coarse organic stuff like mulch or coarse tree chippings to a muddy run, but they will have to be removed before they start to rot down or mix in.

    If you *are* talking about water in the coop, you REALLY REALLY need to solve that problem (intercept it, improve drainage of the whole area, and/or raise the floor of the coop). But in the meantime, the best thing for absorbing floodwaters is shavings... you let them soak up the water and then rake them out right away. Don't let damp shavings (or any other kind of bedding either) sit in the coop, that is just asking for problems, both with chicken health and coop structure.

    Good luck, hope your weather improves,

  6. Herechickychick

    Herechickychick Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 16, 2009
    Northern California
    Pine shaving soak up more water. And is easier to fluf up. Straw also harbor's bugs and parasites.[​IMG]
  7. Zahboo

    Zahboo Simply Stated

    Feb 3, 2009
    Hope Mills, NC
    I use straw because my chickens would always throw around the shavings into the food/water
  8. wren

    wren Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 27, 2007
    St Augustine, FL
    Okay I'm going to stick my little neck out and disagree here. In the situation described straw is way better.

    Stick with the straw. The wet stuff tends to work down and the dry cleaner straw stays on top. The straw does not soak up nearly as much water as shavings do. Therefore the animal can stay drier. Also under harsh conditions the straw holds up better and does not degrade into a sloppy mess.

    It is possible for chickens to make a depression in shavings or straw but it is way easier to make a place to burrow in with straw. Birds in nature work with twigs and straw not shavings. For people to clean up yes shavings are way better. For mite habitat straw is better.

    While the conditions are not ideal I'm sure that you are doing your best. My first hand experience says straw.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2009
  9. HappyHatch'en

    HappyHatch'en Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 31, 2009
    I used wood shavings and saw dust....from the saw mill free....but I don't have a drainage problem the corner I will throw some straw for the girls to have a variety to play in.
  10. PQ

    PQ Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 5, 2009
    Platina, Ca.
    We use straw outside in the run, but in the coop and nesting boxes we use shavings easier to clean out. Just use a dust pan and broom, we clean out coop once a week. Straw is a must outside because in winter we have mud in lots of the run, it absorbs the water the wetter straw tends to sink down and the chickens stay cleaner and drier, but the sec. we get a sunny day we muck out the pen let it dry then if needed will add more straw when the rains/snow come back. Hope this helps.

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