Wet straw in coop - what to do

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by greginshasta, Feb 7, 2008.

  1. greginshasta

    greginshasta Songster

    Jul 26, 2007
    Mount Shasta, CA
    Update: Please disregard. We replaced the straw. Thanks.

    Despite good advice from BYC posters, and mostly because we had a bale of straw when we opened our new coop last fall, we went ahead and used straw in the floor of the coop.

    The straw is now fairly moist, despite the presence of a 6' ramp that leads to a dry area just inside the pop hole before the chickens actually hop over a barrier and into the straw on the floor of the coop. The entry area can be observed in the 2nd image below.

    I could throw some dry-stall in there, if you recommend that, or I could bag it all and replace with pine shavings.

    What would you have me do please? Replace the straw altogether or dry it out with stall-dry?

    BTW, you can see in the 3rd photo below the results of our latest series of snow storms here in the north-most end of California.



    Last edited: Feb 8, 2008
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    fwiw, my vote would be to take the straw out, compost it (your garden will love you come springtime) or dump it in the run to keep the chickens off the snow, and rebed with shavings. It's not a big coop, should only take a couple bags.

    How often are you cleaning your droppings pit? That is another source of indoor moisture and may be exacerbating the problem. Ans is it possible to increase ventilation? The less humid it is in there the healthily-drier the litter (be it straw or shavings) will stay.

    Good luck,

  3. greginshasta

    greginshasta Songster

    Jul 26, 2007
    Mount Shasta, CA
    Quote:The dropping pit is cleaned out every few weeks at the moment. It's due to be done today in fact. It was easier to deal with when there wasn't 2-3 feet of snow on the ground leading to the compost pile.

    Quote:I can certainly open windows during the day if that will make a difference, but it's been so silly cold out we wanted to leave the room as warn as possible. Before this week it was in mid-20's to mid-30's during the day, teens at night.

    SHELLY Songster

    May 7, 2007
    Southwest Missouri
    I agree with Pat. If it was me, I would remove and replace.

    Also, opening the window during the day and closing at night will help ventilate. The birds can handle the low temps better than they can the traped moisture.

    I had my roo got a frostbite spot on his comb. I'm sure it was from the straw the ducks got wet. I have been trying very hard to keep dry and prevent that from happing again.

    Good Luck.
  5. chickflick

    chickflick Crowing

    Mar 10, 2007
    I would remove the wet straw and replace it with shavings. If you open a window, make sure the birds are not in a draft! We got a foot of snow last night! I feel for you!
  6. greginshasta

    greginshasta Songster

    Jul 26, 2007
    Mount Shasta, CA
    We cleaned it out. 5 big bags and all the straw is out, tucked away for a future date when we can actually make it across the yard to the compost pile. In went the shavings, followed by curious hens, and it's a lot nicer in there now.

    Thanks for everyone's input.
  7. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    I use a good deep layer of hay then cover that with lots of pine shavings.

    If your bedding is wet you should just take it all out and replace it.
  8. xke4

    xke4 Songster

    Feb 3, 2007
    Might I offer a suggestion?? Now that you have been graced by the white stuff, use it to your advantage. When I need to clean my coops out (messy ducks) I lay a big tarp at the door and simply shovel/fork the stuff out the door onto the tarp. It is so much easier to drag the tarp on the snow to where you need it than take it away with a wheelbarrow as we do in the summer. You can take it all in one trip and it slides very well.
  9. akbufflady

    akbufflady In the Brooder

    Feb 7, 2008
    Straw is suppose to be a pretty good bedding/litter material when it is kept dry, but when the chickens are tracking in snow/mud it will be a mess in a hurry. We have had our best luck with old hay. We are using old hay that our cows refused to eat. We scatter a good portion of the bale on a freshly cleaned out coop, then every day when I go out for the mid-day egg gathering I toss some barley or oats, what ever we have at the time, this gets the girls scratching and stirring everything up. Then for the evening egg gathering I scatter a good sized flake of hay and then add what ever kitchen scraps from the day. This seems to work very well for us and the chickens love the hay, they eat quite a bit of it. By the time we have used all of that bale of hay it is time to clean out the coop. We don't have the ammonia smell. Husband vented the coop and added a ventilation fan ( bathroom exhaust fan pushing air from the outside in) along with a humidistat, this turns the fan on or off depending on the humidity levels inside the coop. This comes in through the arctic entry and that air is prewarmed. We are in alaska so we need some sort of a buffer when we go in and out. Keeps the chill down. You would be surprised at how much humidity comes from their poo and their breath. The average temp is around 40 inside their coop with below 40 outside. The dampness in the air will do more harm than the cooler temps. We have never had any luck with pine shavings. Within just a few days of putting in new shavings we would get a terrible ammonia build up and pine shavings don't break down as quicklly for garden use. Hay breaks down much quicker. If you have some farmers close you may be able to get your hands on old hay from last year at a fairly cheap price, just make sure it isn't moldy. That is bad for the chickens and for us also. You'll probably find it will be cheaper than the pine shavings if you have a way to haul it.
  10. kstaven

    kstaven Crowing

    Jan 26, 2007
    BC, Washington Border
    The biggest factor no matter what you use is ventilation. Shavings will give you the same problem if there is not enough air exchange.

    We use the deep litter method which can hold a lot of moisture. Yet don't have problems with moisture or smell because there is enough air flow to keep the humidity in the air down.

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