First of all lets talk about what straw is and what it isn't. Straw is the dried stalks of grain after the grain has been harvested. It is the byproduct of grain production. The leftovers. When crops like wheat, barley, and oats are harvested for their seed, the stalks are left behind. These remaining stalks are then bailed as straw. There should not be any grain, seed or edible parts left. Straw has a hollow stem and is nutritionally defunct. Straw isn't feed & it isn't the same as hay though we'll get into hay in another post.
When getting straw you want to make sure it's dry. I know that's obvious, but I've had someone tell me the damp stuff was ok since it was just going on the floor. Not ok. Wet straw can develop mold and you don't want to introduce that into your chicken coop! Straw does dry out quite quickly when used in the coop and I have never had a mold problem when dry straw was added to my coop. If straw bales were allowed to remain wet for a length of time then mold is possible so make sure you start out with dry straw.
I put straw down on the coop floor at least a few inches thick. I like to use the deep litter method in all my big coops so I start with a nice thick blanket of it. Fluff it up a bit as you toss it down and make sure it doesn't stick together in clumps. The chickens love to scratch through it and they'll spend all day digging for a handful of scratch tossed in the bedding.
I like straw because:
1) It breaks down faster then hay.
2) There are no seeds to find their way into my garden when it eventually becomes compost.
3) It's cheap.
4) One bale covers a large amount of coop space, so I don't need to buy it very often.
5) Even when it gets sopping wet it's lighter to shovel out then wood chips or sand.
As I mentioned I use straw in my largest coops. I find in the smaller coops I loose too much of it out the door and need to constantly add more to the coop. I still lose a little through the doorways in the larger coop, but it's not enough to notice. Between cost and effectiveness as bedding, straw definitely gets my recommendation.
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