Sunday 21 February 2021

Straw For The Chickens

With this Avian Flu lockdown we've been having it's been tricky to keep the chickens clean with their much reduced pens sizes.

I've been using my wood shavings from my carpentry, but I only produce so many and they do soak in far too easily with all this wet weather we've been having. 

So I put in a message to a farming friend to see if he would be happy to sell me a few bales of straw.


He only had big bales, but luckily I managed to get him to deliver it and sheet it up until we could use it. 

Then I didn't want to use it all at one time. So I hammered a pin through it to be able to retie the string in the middle. 

Luckily this worked really well and I could straw down all 8 poultry pens!

 So lots of happy chickens and ducks after my little trip round all the pens. I think straw wins out when it's really wet like this as it forms a mat that the animals can stand on. I'm almost looking forward to putting all this on the compost heap when the lockdown for the birds ends!

What have you been using to try and keep your birds dry this winter? Or what would you use if you had the choice?


  1. Those look like some very happy Brahmas. I love straw, it gives them something to do and when they're done with it it makes great mulch (or fertilizer depending on the poo factor). It's frozen here but come the spring rains I don't even try anymore on account of the geese turning everything into a mud pit. We probably need a load of gravel honestly.

  2. Straw is our favorite for bedding material. We also toss some green leafy hay in the pens now and then as the birds love to scratch around and eat the dried leaves. Then the bare stems are left for bedding material, but the hollowness of the straw stems doesn't seem to pack down so much for us.

  3. We used to put the straw straight onto the no dig garden and plant veg seedlings straight through it (brassicas, celeriac, runner beans, pumpkins etc) It kept the weeds at bay.

  4. I'm with Mama Pea, but with a twist. I am old enough to remember when Ruth Stout was alive and active. I became a devoted fan and user of her methods. They work. Her 'No Work' garden books and techniques apply to this day. Her secret? Deep alfalfa hay mulch. Works in the garden, and our chickens love it too. I have easy access to small square bales of alfalfa hay. Not everybody does. I use straw in the nesting boxes, and hay everywhere else. Like Mama Pea's observation, the chickens eat the green leaves, and the stems stay behind as ground cover.

  5. Kevin, I use wood pellets for my rabbits for their litter boxes. I add the hay on one side of the box (it encourages them to poop in the box as rabbits poop more when they are eating), so when I change it the whole thing goes onto the compost heap I have for it to break down further before it goes to the garden.

  6. We have a lot of trees in our road and I go out in the autumn and collect up bags of leaves. The hens turn them over and over looking for insects until the leaves are just crumbs and then they go in the compost heap. The leaves are good at keeping the hens' feet off the mud or frozen ground. For us, leaves are also cheaper than straw which we save for the nest boxes.


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