I fiiinally got chickens! Three beautiful ladies. My question is about bedding. I bought shavings right off the bat because I read that was a fine lining for the coop, but now I'm wondering if I should be using hay instead? Or maybe at least for the laying boxes?? It sounds like they might prefer it when roosting:)
The two most important things about bedding and floor covering is clean and dry. My girls aren't at all picky beyond that.
I use whatever is available at the time I need it.
They like hay because they can scratch and peck seeds out of it (this can be a little bothersome when used in the laying boxes). I have a couple of buddies that put up hay and can usually get 3 or 4 old bales for a couple of dozen fresh eggs. They like dried grass clippings also, but you have to watch for excess ammonia.
In the fall I usually switch to dry leaves since they are free and work well to absorb the manure and use for compost in the spring. I try to mix a bale of hay or dry ornamental grass in with the leaves to help keep it from packing down and use the pitchfork on it a few times during the winter to fluff it up and eliminate ammonia build up. I've even used dry wood/bark chips during the summer but think it would be too boring for them during the winter when they spend more time in the coop.
I have read that certain molds that can be common in straw are harmful to chickens, but doubt that can be a problem unless it gets wet. Regardless, straw s the only thing I try avoid. Especially since it is something I would have to buy.
Congratulations on your chickens!! Hay or shavings are up to you!! I use hay, because I can get it for free, and I like the way it breaks down in the compost pile. I used shavings for a while too, and they work as well, but they don't break down as fast in the compost or in deep littering over the winter. My hens definitely preferred hay in their boxes for nesting. (but roosting happens on the bars of the hen house, so there's no hay or shavings there.) ;)
Thanks for the info! And so you're telling me I can also use a dry leaf mixture as well? Anything in particular to avoid?
Some ornamental shubs might have toxins in the leaves that could harm chickens, but any leaves that get raked up from trees in the yard, or gathered from the woods would be fine.
Kali, The bedding I just love are stable wood pellets, they are compact in the bag then you add water and let dry they expand about 600%. I then out this down in the bottom of my coop with food grade Diatomaceous Earth. Between the two my floor is always dry, I stir this up once a day and the poo.. dries up too, even in winter. If you have closed boxie this makes good bedding too. Food grade Diatomaceous Earth mix in this their feed will keep them wormed, and great to make a dust bath with it, in the dry weather I just put a scopp in their favrite wallows. Food grade Diatomaceous Earth can be used for so many thing, dusting chicken keep mites at bay, and on your vegatables and flowers, thought it dose leave a white power on flowers.
I have a flock of Nankin Bantams, Rooss are less then two pounds, we just love them! Hope this was helpful, they are my babies.
Hi Kali I used straw and shredded paper more straw it works for me and the hens. It is good in the nesting boxes, and easy to clean out the coop with a pitch fork. I have 9 hens and 1 rooster in the coop, in the chicken tractor i use straw only. I have 6 hens and 1 duck the straw works for the chicken tractor because there is no floor.