What decomposes faster into compost...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by harleyjo, May 15, 2011.

  1. harleyjo

    harleyjo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2010
    SW Iowa
    hay/straw or wood shavings? In an effort to save money I would switch if it decomposes fast.
  2. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    straw and hay tend to turn into compost very slowly, unless you chop them up very fine
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I am not quite getting the connection to saving money, unless you are trying to quickly produce compost for the garden instead of buying bagged compost?

    Anyhow... the answer is "neither, because it totally depends on the AMOUNTS". The thing that controls speed of composting is the size of the particles (pretty comparable among all 3 materials) and the carbon to nitrogen ratio in your compostpile, i.e. how much poo in relation to how much bedding material.

    The fastest route to reasonably-finished compost is to use methods that result in relatively little bedding amongst the poo in your pile. If you do the "clean the whole coop out every week (or whatever)" method, you virtually always end up with quite a lot too much bedding (too much C, too little N) for optimum composting. Using a droppings board and spot-cleaning makes it easier to achieve a lower C:N ratio and makes it more controllable-by-you.

    All things being equal you do not need quite as much poo for a given amount of hay or straw as you do for a given amount of shavings, in order to achieve optimal C:N ratio. However IMO this is more or less academic because if you can control the am't of bedding material in your pile, you can cope quite well with ANY of those materials and they will compost about equally fast; and if you *don't* control the am't of bedding material in your pile, it really doesn't matter much which you use as ALL of them will compost more slowly.

    (Note that grass or mix hay often has weed seeds in it, and you can't assume your whole pile will compost hot enough to kill them; also a reasonable argument (IMO) can be made that it is more appropriate to use NONfood things like straw or shavings as bedding, rather than hay which could be feeding someone's animals.)

    Not sure if that answers your question?

    Good luck, have fun,

  4. harleyjo

    harleyjo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2010
    SW Iowa
    My wood shavings are about 6-7 dollars a bag now and I am sure I can get a bale of straw or hay cheaper than that. I live in IA, we have an abundance of it available. I have just been reading of more people than I thought used it, using hay and straw as bedding.
  5. rtlightfoot

    rtlightfoot New Egg

    May 15, 2011
    Given all conditions are equal straw and hay tend to decompose more slowly hence the reason they are often used for erosion control. They will actually help keep the soil loose and aireated if used when planting. While wood shavings have much smaller fibers and decompose faster if you are looking for a compost that you can spread on top of the soil as a fretilizer.
  6. Dingo

    Dingo Chillin' With My Peeps

    I used hay with my ducks, right before winter I'd work their used bedding into my garden soil. I know people who do the same hay and/or straw used as cow or pig bedding or hay mixed with manure. I've tried doing that with used wood shavings with less success.
  7. HappyChickenLover

    HappyChickenLover Chillin' With My Peeps

    use red worms they get the job done fast
  8. kla37

    kla37 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2010
    Hillsborough, NC USA
    Wood shavings, definitely. Straw takes a long time to break down unless you can chop it up very fine.
  9. onthespot

    onthespot Deluxe Dozens

    Mar 29, 2008
    Riverside/Norco, CA
    and layering dirt in with it helps to speed up things too.
  10. flowerhippie

    flowerhippie Out Of The Brooder

    May 13, 2011
    I like to use both I am a passionate gardener and there are many factors that I consider, I have acidic soil and use straw on my poultry house during the spring until fall. I use wood during the winter it is slower to decompose and is a good heat producer during the winter when the decomposition begins to get hot and a great insulator. Because wood is very acidic and attract little critters in my soil called synphillyans they love vegetable roots and cause my plants to wilt and die. I use the wood on my blue berry bushes only. I use the straw along my walk ways as a side dress in my garden this allows it time to get hot and decompose. I love both uses for my needs. What are you going to use them on and what plants will love what you are giving them, Or if you have no use what is cheaper and easiest to dispose of ? Wood takes a really long time to decompose, The straw is faster to decompose.

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