straw vs. hay for nest boxes

marlingardenerJune 6, 2008

I have searched the area for two months and cannot find a source for straw. Heaven knows what is used for stable bedding around here! Anyway, my chickens are due to start laying next month, and I am getting desperate about putting something in their nest boxes. Is hay permissible? Is there anything else I could use? Please give me your best advice--I really need it!

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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

You'll only find hay around this part of the country. From wheat I understand, straw is a waste product from grain harvests......wheat or something like that. Texas does milo but it doesn't produce a straw-like product.

Grandpa used hay as hen nests for years and sometimes we'd find a brooder in the haybarn in a hidden nest.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 9:16AM
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marlingardener

Shebear,
Thank you! I feel so much better about using hay, especially since you cited your grandfather's experience with it. I couldn't figure out why it might not work, except that it might tend to pack down. I can just see myself "fluffing" the nests weekly. Such maid service our hens have!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 11:16AM
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chickadee_42us(8a Tx)

I have always used hay for my nests.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 12:12PM
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sunnfarm3

Shag carpeting works better than straw or hay and lasts for years. Better yet is plain old indoor outdoor carpeting, your birds are less likely to sleep in a nest with this material. Its important to start your flock off with one type of material and stick with it for the life of the flock. A nest should not be too comfy just as dark as possible... Bob.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 2:15PM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

I am in NE and I have straw but I prefer to use pine shavings. They are easy to keep clean. I have several hens that sleep in the nesting boxes and no matter how hard I try I cannot break them. I just deal with it by cleaning anything out every morning which is very minimal.

I have read that long strands of hay is not good for the chickens to eat - impaction problems. But it would be suitable for nesting I just worry about them eating too much of it.

Wow sunnfarm, I never heard of shag carpeting! That's a good use for that stuff.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 2:51PM
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posy_pet(z6Mo.)

My hens prefer shredded leaves over hay or straw.And not too much.I love the shag carpet bit.I have also used sawdust and shavings and that was acceptable.Posy Pet

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 9:09PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

*LOL @ fluffing the nests*...

Yup, hay is fine. I use straw, I get mine at the feed store.

Is there any danger of carpeting giving off toxic fumes? Some carpeting is pretty darned stinky...

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 4:46AM
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marlingardener

Thank you all for the information. I will try hay, and if that doesn't seem to satisfy the ladies, I'll go to pine shavings, which I can get locally.
I asked at our local feed store about buying straw but they didn't know of anyone who had it. I know I spoil my flock, but even I draw the line at carpeting their boxes! No, seriously, if the two above alternatives don't work, I'll get some carpet. Wait until my husband finds out that I plan to carpet part of the coop . . . .

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 2:51PM
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sunnfarm3

One reason we used carpeting is because we had roll out type nests. Traditionally roll out nest have wire floors which won't work if you raise birds on natural bedding. Carpeting feels soft to the birds like natural bedding so they don't mind using the nest box and at the same time carpeting allows the eggs to roll out. With straw the eggs get stuck in the nest...Bob.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 8:03AM
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marlingardener

Bob (aka sunnfarm3),
The carpeting sounds like a very viable alternative, but since we have hay in our pasture, I'll try that first. Also, we don't have roll-out nests--just the reach-in-and-grab type. Thank you for your information, and I hope we will be as successful with our flock as you obviously are with yours!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 6:06PM
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