To 'Straw' or not to 'Straw' (using or not using straw)?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Awestruck, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. Awestruck

    Awestruck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't have my coop set up yet, so I have no experience and want to learn what to do when my chickens are ready to be in their coop. I have read a couple of different articles on bedding. One recommended straw to use. Another article says not to use straw because it is too slippery. What do you all think? I found straw at Tractor Supply so I now have it accessible for me to use, but if it is not good material for chickens or if it is harmful to them, I need to know. Also, what do people usually use for the bedding? Do you use the same material for the nesting box as for the bedding on the ground?
     
  2. Venevee

    Venevee Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello! [​IMG]
    I use all straw. My hens love it, and they can peck and scratch at the seeds from the straw bales. It covers more then saw dust, you seem to get more with straw, smells good (if the bale is quality), and my hens prefer it for their nesting boxes. You don't need a lot of straw for nests either, only about a flake. With saw dust, you need quite a bit of it for a nest, and my hens won't lay in a saw dust nest. They are very picky and spoiled for sure...
    Also, straw seems to keep them warmer during the winter. Iowa winters can be very brutal, so straw is a must for me.
    I would use straw but whatever works out best for you is fine!
    [​IMG]
     
  3. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Overrun With Chickens

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    I use it in my nestboxes and sometimes I'll put a bit of the chopped straw in with my deep litter just for something different. I do also use it when brooding a lot of the time. I'm not a huge fan of having it anywhere that involves poop though. It just seems harder to clean up. And I put it in my run last winter when we got a bunch of snow which then turned to mud, and hated it. It was just a bunch of wet muddy straw.
     
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  4. Awestruck

    Awestruck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks. This is helpful.
     
  5. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is what I would expect with straw, which is the residual plant left after the harvest of cereal grains like wheat, oats or rye. The stems of straw are thin walled and large diameter, and tend to collapse flat. So when they get wet, they tend to mat down and stay wet. Because of this, they are a good source of C for carbon to include in a compost pile.

    My preferred litter for outside runs is low quality grass hay. That should have a small diameter and tough stem that sheds water and dries quickly. A lot of guys in our area don't seem to know much about grass hay, so cut it way too late, well after it has gone to seed. By then, the stems are mostly indigestible lignin, so take forever to rot down. So it has structure for the birds to walk around on, is dry on top and wet only way down below at the soil contact layer. The droppings wash out in the rain and collect below to combine with the grass leaf to start the composting process. More like slow rot process.
     
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    My tried and true nest box filler is hay. It forms into a pleasing bowl shape and resists being scratched or kicked out of the nests. Straw, on the other hand, doesn't conform into any shape very well, is light weight and shorter cut so it's easily kicked out of the nest boxes.

    As for bedding, I'd use neither of those things for bedding...they both tend to form mold caps from too much moisture in one place or another, though I don't mind adding them here and there in small amounts to add variety of texture and breakdown times in the litter. My preferred bedding of choice is leaves mixed with twigs, pine needles and cones, wood chips, straw, hay, bark, garden waste, corn stalks and shucks, kitchen scraps, etc. I build it deep and keep dry bedding flipped up over the poop under the roosts. No smells and no flies from that method.

    I don't have a run as I free range, but I've had temporary runs set up and I utilize the same litter/bedding as I do in the coop...a nice deep litter formed of a variety of materials. Straw has never featured largely in my flock keeping down through the years....too costly, too woody, not absorbent, takes too long to break down.
     
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  7. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    I use pine shavings in my coop and I like them a lot but I did put some straw in the nest boxes and they seem to like that. I'm going to look into mulch hay though like suggested.

    Also maybe it's just me but the chopped straw bedding at TSC is pretty dusty and the dust/tiny straw pieces got up my sleeves and made my arms itch. This could just be me though, I might be allergic? And once you get it out of the bag it is not dusty at all and pretty good quality. But just be careful when taking it out of the bag to not get it on you or you will be itching. I think it might just be the dust because I have no problems touching the straw itself. Anyway, if you do get it on you, just wash your arm or shower and it should go away

    The straw is great for composting though but i find shavings stay cleaner
     
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  8. flyin-lowe

    flyin-lowe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I use a combination. I usually start with a couple inches of pine shavings, then every three weeks or so I throw in grass clipping from my yard. The next time Ill throw in a bag of dried leaves I rake up, then next time I'll throw in some straw. I keep adding to it then once in the fall and once in the spring I rake out the material and spread it over my garden.
     
  9. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    That's a great idea! I might try that in my new coop
     
  10. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Overrun With Chickens

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    The straw that I buy is short and flat, almost like wide bladed grass blades yet it is labeled straw for whatever reason. It's more leaves than stems.

    I do deep litter in my coops but I usually have more grass clippings, leaves, pine needles, etc than what I need in the two coops so that goes into the run as well. Since I started doing that beginning this past summer I haven't had issues with a mucky coop.

    I'm going to look around and see if I can find a bale of grass hay like you are talking about. I think they would like it if I just put it in the run and let them tear through it and spread it, since I don't have anything to add to the coop this time of year.
    It works very well. Its what I do too, and include little things like small sticks and pieces of pine cones. Basically whatever I can collect with the sweeper on my riding lawn mower.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017

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