Using straw as coop bedding

I haven't talked about chicken coop bedding lately so I think it's about time that we talked about it again. We've already discussed using fall leaves and shredded newspaper, so this time I want to talk about using straw in the chicken coop. Straw is the first tier of cost when it comes to bedding. Leaves and old newspapers are free obviously, with straw or hay being next in cost and wood shavings and sand being the most expensive of them all (which is why I saved those for last!) 

Around here I can get straw bales for between $2-4 each, all year round. Even with all 5 coops going, I can refill them all for under $10. That's definitely a price I can live with!

Straw in chicken coop

Straw as coop bedding

First of all let's 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.

Still not sure what to use in your coop? Check out Which Chicken Bedding Should You Use?

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  1. It's interesting I came across this as I just read a similar post on another blog recently stating why you SHOULDN'T use straw in chicken coops! lol To each his own. I think it's fine as long as you're smart about it and don't allow it to become damp, like you said. Thanks for sharing on the Homesteader Hop!

    1. I've experimented with almost all types of bedding and have been writing about each one just for information's sake. It's funny how something works great for some people and not for others. I think climate, coop size and a whole lot more go into it then just pick a bedding. Nothing seems to work well for everyone or even every season so your mileage may vary! lol

      Thanks for stopping by...I love that hop!

    2. I use straw and love it..its so easy to clean can almost clean up daily by grabbing the chicken poop that just sits on top of the staw and take it out to the compost pile,or burn pile. And i push it up against the doorways at night so not to have a draft... they seem to love it. And i love the smell.

    3. Kip...I like the smell of straw and hay too! It just smells like country living!


  2. I think Straw is almost perfect. I'm not a Chicken expert but have been around Chickens for almost 60 years. My Grandfather was huge into Gamecocks and the game chicken business. He was very peculiar about his chickens and used straw way back in the day. If he used it I figured it was the right thing to do.

    1. Straw is one of those things that people have been using in chicken coops forever! There is a lot to be learned from the older generations!