Coop Bedding Test

You might have noticed a change in the bedding in the Little Barn. I am trying out a brand new type of chicken coop bedding. It’s a combination of chopped straw, chopped hay and an odor and moisture absorbing material. A farm in northern Maine has come up with this product, which, if it’s successful, will help the environment and economy up there, as well as make your coop nicer. I’ll fill you in on all of the details once the trial is over. For now, I can tell you that the barn smells like a barn should – fragrant like a field in the summer – and it’s dry.

Phoebe approves.



  1. The ladies do seem to be enjoying it too on this chilly morning. Is it “edible”? When we’d get a bale of straw for our chickens, they LOVED scratching through it & they seemed to find parts of it to eat….no sure if that was healthy for them or not.

    • The problem with both straw and hay is that the stems are long and coarse, and bored chickens will eat them, and can get impactions. Also, regular hay and straw quickly becomes damp and moldy. A hundred years ago, before baled shavings, farmers used machines for chopping the coarse forage to turn it into bedding. (Including corn stalks, etc. that they would otherwise have had to throw out.) Once in small bits, it is safer for the chickens, and it is also easier to clean and more absorbent.

      • I agree completely. The damp and moldy hay/straw then causes respiratory problems.

      • I read a while back on the UMaine cooperative extension publications that the university was working on some kind of organic, food-grade grain with a by-product of cereal grain straw for bedding. This may be something else altogether, but I’m eager to hear about it when the test is complete. Right now I have shavings in the coop and combination of straw and shavings in the nest boxes.

  2. I am anxious to hear how it works out. I spend a lot on shavings, but I like them so much more than straw. The straw is a mess and does not absorb anything at all. I HATE shoveling it out of the coop. A total mess….keep us posted!

    • I totally agree with Donna and Ken. I use straw out in the pen area during the winter rains (such as they are in SoCal) to keep the hens’ (and my) feet somewhat clean and dry, but inside the coop I much prefer shavings. If this product works out for you, I hope it will be distributed widely, as I can only imagine what they’ll charge for shipping to the left coast.

  3. I wonder if it will become available in Canada? It looks like how a coop should look and I can only imagine how sweet it must smell. I hope it is successful…meanwhile you and your flock can enjoy. :)

  4. Phoebe is developing the imperious look, isn’t she? Glad she approves of the new bedding. Wish she weren’t so camera shy.

  5. I noticed and was going to ask. It looks neater than the fine wood shavings I have that get blown around easily and end up in the food and water.

  6. Yes I had straw and 2 of my gals consistently ate it. So now use the shavings. But would be interested in thus stuff for my lean to. Do keep us posted please. Thanks for sharing.

    • Oooh, I just took a look at what beautiful illustrations! I’ve put this on my wish list for Christmas!

  7. my place is all organic, and my farm animals’ feed comes off my land..pasture raised animals, chickens, too. So, their bedding is from my property, too. I use rye grass straw after the rye grass is harvested, mixed with pine and spruce needles and small branches run through the chipper, from my trees, and right now, there’s lots of leaves that have been shredded from the orchard. All organic bedding, smells wonderful, and the animals seem to love it. old bedding goes right on one of the gardens.

  8. I now use shavings in the nest boxes and a product called Rapport in the run, its the chopped up stalks of oilseed rape. It is very absorbant and smells really nice. The girls seem very happy on it and its virtually dust free. I was always told not to use straw as the mites can crawl into the tubes of the stalks and it doesnt absorb moisture at all. So far, fingers crossed the girls haven’t suffered with respiratory problems.
    I must admit your new bedding looks really cosy Terry, thankyou for your very interesting blogs, I really look forward to reading about life on Little Pond farm xxx

  9. Been away a few days and just caught up with your new bedding post, Terry.
    I’ve been using a product here in Cornwall called Happy Jack bedding for the past couple of years. It’s a wheat/rape straw mix and has eucalyptus or something similar added to inhibit mould etc. Smells wonderful when I open a new bag! Composts down much quicker than wood shavings too, which is another advantage.
    My girls seem to love it and I’ve not had any problems.
    Hope your trial is a success!