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Straw or Hay, which is warmer???

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  • Straw or Hay, which is warmer???

    Id like to start prepping my chicken coop and was told straw is warmer than hay. Is this true? Only asking because grabbing a bale of hay out of my loft is a heck of a lot easier than finding someone with straw. Called around a few weeks ago for straw to use for construction and couldn't find any.

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  • #2
    I don't know about the "warmer" issue, but can tell you from first-hand experience that using hay as coop bedding is definitely not ideal. It packs/mats down quickly - no fluff factor - & turns into a sodden mess rather quickly. Straw stays fluffy longer, & stays dryer longer. A huge vote for straw here - especially in nest boxes.

    When I had my birds, my favorite coop bedding combination was about 6" of pine shavings on the coop floor, & straw in the nest boxes. Worked very well.


    • #3
      I've always just used hay in my coop-usually the loose stuff I sweep up or that the horses don't eat (my hay is $300/ton, so using it for chicken bedding is a silly idea without it going thru the horses first, so to speak!). Straw is nice, but I use what's available, rather than spending more. Warmer in what way, would be my question. A thick layer of hay vs. straw? I clean my coop once a week, anyway.
      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


      • #4
        Straw is infinitely warmer. When we were lambing I would sometimes fall asleep in the jugs with the lambs in the middle of the night and you can literally feel the heat come back up from the straw. It's like a down blanket. People use it here to insulate around their foundations sometimes, or over a water line.
        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


        • #5
          We use hay for our bunny nest boxes only because it is much cheaper than straw and easier to find (I mean, after all we have a loft full and there is always spillage and waste).
          That said, straw is a different part of the grasses and a different type of grass, like oats or wheat, it's the stems, the tubular part lower down, and the tube moves liquid and keeps air so it does stay warmer and drier. The grass hay mats down as stated by a previous poster and has to be changed out more often.

          I did a cost analysis of it a season or two ago and between storing straw separately, traveling to buy it and paying over twice as much a bale it worked out to pick out any horse hay bales that weren't as nice as I liked or were old or just there when we needed them.

          ETA ours is grass hay, some timothy, NO alfalfa and light on the clover.
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          • #6
            Straw is hollow, holds heat better, and fluffs up, without packing, much better than hay ever will. Hence, the FACT that it is warmer.

            This is one reason I can't abide using it in stalls during theSummer, but I digress.

            Remember- straw is a byproduct- hay is the direct product. Hay is produced for its own sake- straw is created because farmers are raising grains, like barley (my personal favorite kind of straw) oat (yuck) and wheat (meh) as well as rye.
            When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou


            • #7
              Yes, straw is a hella lot warmer than hay. It has built in insulation from the hollow stalks.
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              Hold onto the bridle!
              Jump in the line!


              • #8
                Regardless of the warming qualities of either hay or straw, hay should NEVER be used as chicken or rabbit bedding because of the fungal spores which develop in damp hay. Those spores can cause aspergillosis, a nasty repiratory disease. Chopped straw, soft-wood shavings, or even better, cardboard are the best materials for chicken or rabbit bedding.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by RutlandH2O View Post
                  Regardless of the warming qualities of either hay or straw, hay should NEVER be used as chicken or rabbit bedding because of the fungal spores which develop in damp hay. Those spores can cause aspergillosis, a nasty repiratory disease. Chopped straw, soft-wood shavings, or even better, cardboard are the best materials for chicken or rabbit bedding.
                  That, hay is not good for chicken bedding or nests.
                  Ideal is "excelsior", at least that is what was called here, a mill product like shavings, but more fluffy and curly.
                  Straw is excellent for insulation, keeping warm in the cold and cool in the heat, unlike grass hay, that is about 1/4th the insulation value of straw and so packs and holds moisture and so more bad stuff in there.

                  Also, wood or straw products have more fiber and so have less other in there, as protein and carbohydrates, like grass hay has and that may cause quicker and more "active" decay with molds and bacteria coming to the feast.

                  If all you have is grass hay, sure, you can use it, just keep it fresh and clean and it will be ok.
                  In the end, hay is more costly because of that, you have to use so much more to keep it clean.


                  • #10
                    Straw is half the price, or less, of hay here... they used to give it away or sell it for $1 a bale but those days are gone for now...
                    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


                    • #11
                      What about shredded paper. I get so much junk mail that I shred. Can I put that in the nest boxes? I've been using hay, but I have birds that roost and poop in the boxes, making a big mess. I use pine shavings for the floor of the coop.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by NoDQhere View Post
                        What about shredded paper. I get so much junk mail that I shred. Can I put that in the nest boxes? I've been using hay, but I have birds that roost and poop in the boxes, making a big mess. I use pine shavings for the floor of the coop.
                        Unfortunately, while I don't have personal experience using shredded paper, I think it would get soggy & skanky even faster than hay.