Dear Ms. Lizzy,
I have a question for you...I see many of my blog buddies putting hay in their chicken run. We've never done that. Do you recommend it and if so why?
Thank you :)
HaySeed in Hicksville
ooOOOoooo! This question is LoADed with several pros/cons, and Ms. Lizzy perceives you might be trying to TrIcK her! oooOOOoooo!
There are some that say putting hay in the runs for the chickens might be a good idea. For extra warmth (in bales to block snow), or for extra traction/to prevent mud and mucky footing (spread around the yards), or for something for the hens to kick and scatter about, preventing boredom. Ms. Lizzy suggests CAUTION, whatever the reason for putting down hay or straw. The reason is a NAASTY 4-letter word. M-O-L-D!
MOLD can cause illness in your flock. If you have decided to scatter hay or straw around the chicken run, rake it up and replace with fresh in a day or two. Yes, us girls love to shift and scatter it, looking for bugs and seeds and what not. Breathing in molds is just BEGGING for respiratory diseases, so RAKE RAKE RAKE! RePlaCe, rEpLaCe, rEpLacE! (Another warning Ms. Lizzy will advise to heed - - us hens may ingest long tough pieces of dried grass and stems, and that will sit in a craw for many a day, causing SOUR CROP! Nasty Nasty Nasty, and has caused many deaths, as it can go easily undetected!!!)
Some folks opt for a winter coop-keeping program known as Deep Litter Bedding. Again, Ms. Lizzy advises: Proceed with CAUTION! The Deep Litter System has also been suggested for horses and other livestock, to cut down on winter chores for the keeper, and if done PROPERLY, should pose little problem. If done without consideration for the animals in their care, and some steps are skipped, this can cause ammonia build-up, M-O-L-D, respiratory illness, and compromised health in any animal kept in such a situation. Instead of the Deep Litter System, Ms. Lizzy would advise spending a few minutes a day or perhaps 30 minutes a week to keeping those coops and nest boxes Spik n' Span and clean and tidy for your working girls! They do SO much for you, so give a little time back, keeping them in good health and cheer!
As always, thank you for your questions!
Chicken Pecks and Hugs,