Straw vs. Shavings

Jan 17, 2021
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Hey everyone--


In this area, its be HOT this summer and the smell and flies have been bad in the coop. Originally I used shavings, then shavings +Straw for the extra insulation, and then it kinda happened to where I was jsut buying straw. But now i'm wondering if the shavings would be better? Not sure if this is a dumb question, but would one make the chickens hotter than the other? They're already struggling with the heat and i'm doing everyhting I possibly can. This is my last idea for them.

Thanks!
 

3KillerBs

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Any dry organic material can work as bedding in the coop or litter in the run but each kind has it's strong points and it's weak points.

Shavings don't break down as rapidly -- which is good in the coop but bad in the garden.

Straw is fluffier but also less absorbent and it can be subject to packing and matting when it gets wet.

The pine straw I rake out off my lawn and out of my woods isn't as absorbent as straw or hay but it's free and it has the advantage in the run of always drying out on top rapidly no matter how heavy the rain was.

Dry leaves are also free for the raking but are less absorbent than shavings and prone to packing and matting. They have the advantage of making marvelous compost and the chickens seem to love them (chickens are naturally creatures of the forest floor).

Coarse wood chips are the closest thing to magic in a muddy or odorous run and they don't tend to pack but they're not even remotely soft and fluffy and thus make horrible nest material.

And so on through all the possible options. I personally like a mix of materials and textures because I think it combines the advantages and offsets the drawbacks. That's just opinion though, not scientific evidence. :)

Unless you've got active, hot composting happening, no particular bedding is either hot or cool. Thick bedding in the coop is nice in bad weather because it stops drafts. But thick litter in the run is also nice in hot weather because it insulates the ground from the sun so that the chickens can dig in and find a cool spot to sit in (on a hot afternoon mine are sunk down to the level of their backs sometimes).

Here's a very useful article on coping with heat: https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/aarts-extreme-weather-spiel.75893/
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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They're already struggling with the heat and i'm doing everyhting I possibly can. This is my last idea for them.
Good ventilation?
Show us your coop, inside and out.


What kind of bedding you use may depend on how you manage the manure.
This is about cleaning, but covers my big picture
-I use poop boards under roosts with thin(<1/2") layer of sand/PDZ mix, sifted daily(takes 5-10mins) into bucket going to friends compost.
-Scrape big or wet poops off roost and ramps as needed.
-Pine shavings on coop floor, add some occasionally, totally changed out once or twice a year, old shavings added to run.
- My runs have semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are best IMO.
-Nests are bedded with straw, add some occasionally, change out if needed(broken egg).
There is no odor, unless a fresh cecal has been dropped and when I open the bucket to add more poop.
That's how I keep it 'clean', have not found any reason to clean 'deeper' in 7 years.
 

sdm111

Crossing the Road
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Straw wicks water shavings absorb water. Dust from shavings are bad on respiratory systems. Use straw. Hey everyone if your chicks seem a little nasially and they're on shavings probably the dust. The same dust that is layered on everything in your house if brooder is inside
 

3KillerBs

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Straw wicks water shavings absorb water. Dust from shavings are bad on respiratory systems. Use straw. Hey everyone if your chicks seem a little nasially and they're on shavings probably the dust. The same dust that is layered on everything in your house if brooder is inside

IMO, dust from shavings is only an issue if the ventilation is poor -- though it does help to use the large flake shavings rather than the fine flakes. :)
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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SW Michigan
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Straw wicks water shavings absorb water. Dust from shavings are bad on respiratory systems. Use straw. Hey everyone if your chicks seem a little nasially and they're on shavings probably the dust. The same dust that is layered on everything in your house if brooder is inside
Most chick dust is from feather sheathing.
Straw can easily mold.

IMO, dust from shavings is only an issue if the ventilation is poor -- though it does help to use the large flake shavings rather than the fine flakes. :)
Ditto Dat.
 

GC-Raptor

Free Ranging
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I used to use straw in the beginning; coop floor, nests and pen.
Then a TSC opened in my area and I bought some pine shavings.
I started to mix straw and shavings on coop floor, then just shavings.
Then I mixed in shavings in nests to better absorb a broken egg, then just used shavings when straw was used up.
I don't have poop boards in my small coops.
Lucky for me my chickens roost near the people door and I scoop up droppings as needed with a short handle flat shovel.
20210212_172620_resized.jpg

I do a thorough cleaning of floor every week or two depending upon number of occupants, using a long handled rake.
20200705_191852_resized.jpg

I clean nests when I do a thorough cleaning or sooner if needed.
20201114_095306_resized.jpg

Nests are accessible from outside.
Coop shavings are dumped into pen.
So for me pine shavings are the way to go. GC
 

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