Can I Use Straw in My Chicken Coop?
For many years I have used pine shavings in my brooders and coop while raising backyard chickens. There are a few different bedding materials out there, but pine shavings are easy to use and make great compost. When you go to your local farm supply store there will be different types of wood shavings.
Make sure you stay away from cedar shavings! Cedar wood contains oils that can irritate a chicken’s respiratory systems. Pine shavings are a great option. When I start the chicks in the brooders, I use fine cut shavings. They are a lot softer for the little chicks. As they grow, I move to medium or large flakes. This cuts down on the amount of dust that these little fluffy birds create! Chickens are dusty! So, this winter I decided to add straw into our bedding and the girls LOVE it! It also cuts back on the dust problem as well. It’s a win win!
Many people confuse straw and hay because they both come in a bale. If you didn’t grow up in farm country, this is actually a bit confusing. However, when buying bedding for your flock it is very important that you get straw! Hay is greener and is livestock food. It is also more likely to get moldy and harbor bacteria. This is not good for your chickens and can be dangerous for their health. Straw is safe, dry and a great option! You can find straw bales at your local farm stores or better yet, find a local farmer.
I love having the straw in the nesting boxes. In fact, I have a couple nesting boxes with pine shavings and the girls prefer the boxes with the straw! The straw boxes stay fairly clean, are easier to keep clean and a snap to clean out! How many times can you use clean in a sentence? Haha!
We use the deep litter method in our coop. So, instead of scooping out and replacing coop litter frequently, the deep litter method allows the manure and bedding material to accumulate and decompose inside the coop. With this method, we only need to clean out our coop a couple times a year!
When we clean out the coop, we throw the soiled bedding into our large compost pile. This allows the “hot” chicken poop to break down with the bedding materials and create an incredible, nutrient-rich compost for our garden. I sprinkle Coop to Garden™ over the compost to help it break down quicker and add valuable nutrients for the soil.
While there are multiple different bedding choices, I’ve found straw and pine shavings to be economical and efficient for our coop!
Until next time,
–The Wing Lady
The chickens love to scratch around in the bedding looking for a leftover treat that one of their flock mates missed! The straw adds an extra layer for scratching fun! Goose the rooster pictured here is busy pointing out snacks to his lady friends. Roosters are great at this! They scratch around and find special treats and then peep at their ladies to come get it.