What will you do when you bring healthy chickens and live them in a well-prepared coop and provide your chickens with the best feed, and in the end, you find losses in the flock even though they were healthy in the first place? Definitely an unpleasant situation, this situation can easily be explained by the fact that there is one important factor missing which is the cleanliness, warmness and dryness of the coop.
When the coop is not cleaned and dried regularly any chicken care routines will fall apart! Raising chickens in a dirty, damp barn is one of the main reasons that may kill the herd, so this matter should never be underestimated.
There are many factors that control the cleanliness of the barn, such as the barn ventilation system, feeding and watering equipment, and the key factor here is the barn bedding! Clean coop bedding is one of the most important foundations of a healthy chicken coop.
There are many types of bedding, each of which has certain advantages and disadvantages. We will discuss one of the types of bedding used in chicken coops, which is straw. We will learn about the most important features of straw and how it can be used in an exact manner, So please read on to learn how to keep your chickens healthy.
One of the most common question that is often asked about straw is that does it helps keeping chicken warm? and the answer is yes, it does help thanks to its insulation properties. But, how? Let’s find out:
How Does Straw Help Keep Chickens Warm?
There are 2 main reasons why straw can help keep your chicken warm:
A. Insulation Properties Of Straw
Straw is one of the best insulators for chicken bedding. Straw insulates the coop and provides temperature regulation. Straw traps air in its hollow passages. Which provides a warm climate for chickens in the winter and cool in the summer.
Straw can also work well as an acoustic insulator if some roosters are acquired. As it reduces the noise emitted from the barn, especially in the early morning, which allows for the presence of roosters.
B. Protection From Drafts
Drafts cool the chicken which increases the energy costs used to warm the chickens. Preventing drafts in your coop shelter is an important factor in helping your flock stay warm, especially on cold winter days.
Straw acts as a wind deflector as it effectively reduces wind speed near the bedding surface and creates a draft-protected area around the chickens, which is a very good competitive advantage for straw versus other bedding materials. Where it works as a precaution against gusts of wind that may cause damage to the health of chickens.
Benefits Of Using Straw In Chicken Coops
It’s only about warmth. In fact, there many reason why you should use straw in your chicken coops:
One of the most important advantages of Straw is that its cost is low compared to other types of bedding. This is also an important factor as you do not need to make an additional budget for the cost of chicken bedding in addition to feeding and other maintenance expenses.
Straw is also available in large numbers throughout the year in barn and farm supply stores, which makes it an easy and inexpensive choice for many chicken keepers.
B. Absorbs Moisture
1. Dangers of moist chicken coops
Moisture absorption is very important because moisture gathering on chicken bedding causes major health problems as a result of being soaked in water. Wet bedding is an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria and other pathogens, as bacteria need moisture to grow.
Moisture also turns the clean chicken coop into a musty coop, where excess moisture with the chicken droppings forms mold. Which is not healthy at all for chickens. Mold spores are unhealthy for chickens, whether in terms of inhalation or consumption as food. Therefore, controlling humidity is a very important factor in maintaining a healthy flock.
2. How straw absorbs moisture
Straw is known for its high absorbency, according to one study on 9 different bedding materials found straw to be the second most absorbent. Indeed, straw is so absorbent that it can hold seven times its own weight in water! Which is what makes it a great absorbent mattress.
But to be fair the straw has a very serious drawback which is that it is very poor at releasing moisture, it will remain moisture-locked for long periods which means the chickens will stay wet. However, this drawback can be overcome by using the deep litter technique by constantly adding renewed layers of straw so that the surface layer remains dry.
C. Provides Comfortable Bedding
Straw is one of the most comfortable bedding materials for chickens. It is always used to line the egg boxes to provide comfort for the chickens. Hens enjoy running and scratching on the straw, and you will not need to put extra bedding in the nesting boxes. Where laying hens will find great comfort in laying eggs on the straw and it protects the eggs from breaking.
D. Lightweight Bedding
Straw is very light compared to other bedding materials such as sand. This makes it easy to carry and distribute in the chicken coop. It is also easily removed while cleaning the coop to replace it with clean straw. Using easy-to-handle chicken bedding removes a large burden from you among the burdens of other barn maintenance, watering, and feeding tasks. So you should keep these aspects in mind while selecting the bedding material.
E. Using As An Organic Fertilizer
Chicken manure is rich in organic matter, which is an ideal organic fertilizer for gardens. The use of straw as bedding for chickens acts as an absorbent casing for storing organic matter to be used later as a food source for planting. It is compostable and biodegradable in the soil, which is an advantage that makes straw fluff over the sand a lot when compared to them as materials for bedding.
F. Little Dust
Low-dust bedding materials for chickens should be chosen to protect the chickens’ respiratory system from the dangers of dust. whereas
Chickens have sensitive respiratory systems. Straw has low dust, as most types of straw have little dust, but there are some types that emit dust. Although uncut straw is low in dust. But it is not the ideal choice for bedding. Unchopped straw causes serious problems such as crop impaction. It can also stimulate the growth of pathogens.
G. An Excellent Choice For Deep Litter
The deep bedding technology has greatly facilitated the cleaning and maintenance of chicken coops. So it has become very popular among chicken breeders lately. The deep bedding technique is to clean the dirt and droppings of chicken bedding by adding new layers of bedding.
All you have to do when you find that your current bedding is too stinky or worn out is to add a new layer of straw to the old bedding.
Adding a new layer of straw bedding will make the bedding deeper. This creates a gradually deep straw bed over the long term which can later be used as compost.
How To Use Straw In Chicken Coops
Here is a small guide that illustrates how to use it in a right way:
A. Amount Of Straw Needed
1. Height of straw
Straw bedding should be evenly distributed throughout the coop at a height of 2 to 3 inches. This amount will be sufficient to absorb the chicken droppings and provide a comfortable bed for the chickens to move and lie in smoothly.
2. Frequency of adding straw
If you are on a light bed regimen, you will need to change it every few days. Most chicken breeders recommend replacing coop bedding twice a week or more, depending on the degree of its soiling.
If you use the deep littering technique, you just add 2-3 inches of straw bedding material over the old bedding whenever you find it damp and dirty instead of changing the bedding regularly.
B. Placement Of Straw
The straw should be distributed throughout the coop, with an excess amount of straw placed in the nesting boxes to provide them with a comfortable and safe place to lay eggs.