Can You Use Hay For Chicken Bedding? Food or Bedding

Chickens require a lot of maintenance to keep them happy, healthy, and producing quality eggs. One of them is their bedding. This is where they will go to lay eggs, rest at night, and even relieve themselves. Therefore, the correct material used for their bedding is uttermost important. It should comfortable, mold-resistant, and easy to clean. There are a lot of bedding materials available, including hay.

So can you use hay for chicken bedding? Yes, you can use hay for chicken bedding. Hay is a crop that’s basically grown to be used as animal fodder. With its rich nutrients especially protein and calcium, hay is better for feeding chickens than using them as bedding material. However, it’s really up to the preference of the owner whether to use them or not.

Is Hay a Good Option for Chicken Bedding?

When it comes to hay, most people consider it as a food for animals. As for using it for chicken bedding, it’s possible you can use it.

Due to the rich nutrients that are in the hay, it’s something that most people rather have their chickens eating rather than using it as bedding. Using it as bedding, it will get disposed of once it’s used.

When it comes down to it, it varies from people to people. Some love using hay as bedding, while others seem it’s not a good option.

So, let’s dig in a little deeper and see what are the advantages and disadvantages of using hay as bedding for chickens.

Advantages Of Using Hay As Chicken Bedding

Hay is the Least Expensive Bedding

Hay is very cheap and sometimes, you can find them for free. When compared to other bedding options like straw, sand, and wood shavings, hay is the cheapest of them all.

Hay can be found online or at many pet stores. They are relatively cheap and can be bought all year long.

Sometimes, you can even find them at a farm. If you have your own farm and growing grasses, legumes, and grains too, hay is an endless supply for you.

Hay is Nutritious and Keeps Chickens Busy

One thing about hay is that they are rich in protein, calcium, and other nutrients.

By using hay as bedding, they will be kept busy by pecking at the hay. From all this pecking and eating, the chickens will get a boost in nutrition too.

Therefore, hay makes a tasty treat for them.

Disadvantages Of Using Hay As Chicken Bedding

Hay is high in nitrogen

Most of the time hay will usually have too many fertilizers used. Therefore, the chemicals will cause the hay to be high in nitrogen content.

Since the hay isn’t able to produce the right carbon and nitrogen mix, it will not have good bacteria growing in it.

Naturally, chicken manure has enough nitrogen in them already. By using hay as bedding for chickens, it will only make the coop smell worse.

Chickens Can Contract Deadly Disease

Hay is a super absorbent when it’s compared to other popular chicken bedding such as straws and wood shavings. Due to this, it will quickly develop mold spores when it’s wet.

As a result, it can make the chickens sick and it can be deadly for them. This fungal disease is known as Aspergillosis and it is contracted when chickens inhale air that has high spore count.

Besides the fungal disease that could potentially be deadly for chickens, hay can make the entire coop smell really bad.


Alternatives to Hay Bedding for Chickens

Wood shavings

Wood shavings are a great material to use as bedding for chickens. They are absorbent and will absorb just about anything waste from the chickens.

Also, wood shaving doesn’t break down very easily and it makes it easy to clean them. Simply sift through the wood shaving and you can collect the chicken’s waste without having to replace it.

Another great thing about wood shaving is its inviting scent. Waste, food, water, and even fart can cause the chicken coop to smell. Wood shaving won’t eliminate the entire odor but will keep it to a minimum.

Buy Pine Shavings Chicken Bedding from Amazon. It’s made specifically for chickens, which means your flock of chickens will love them.



This is the most popular material to use for chicken bedding. It’s very versatile and readily available at many pet stores or you can get them from the farm. The straws offer cushion, provide warmth, healthy germ balance, and can be used as compost once it’s discarded.

The only drawback of straws is that it’s harder to clean and mites can easily hide in the straws’ hollow pipes.

Buy Natural Wheat Straw Grass from Amazon. It’s 100% all-natural wheat straw and perfect for chicken bedding.



Hemp is a great product and one of the best kinds of bedding for chickens. The hemp bedding is made from the stalk of the cannabis plant. The bedding is odorless, organic, and super absorbent. All this translates into a coop that will stay clean and fresh longer.

Due to the substances in the hemp bedding, it’s a great natural pesticide. This means you don’t need to worry about pests infesting the coop.

Buy Dr. Hemp All Natural Pet Bedding Bag from Amazon. Made from cannabis plants and use no chemicals to process the bedding.




This material has some advantages and drawbacks to it. First, it can be used as chicken bedding. Newspapers are a great absorbent and will keep the coop clean. Also, it’s soft for the chicken to rest on easily.

As for the drawbacks, the chickens might be tempted to eat them. You’ll have to watch them very carefully that they don’t eat it.

Another drawback is the frequency of cleaning it. Like other materials listed above, the newspaper will need to be disposed of every day and replaced with new ones.

Buy Fresh News Paper Small Animal Bedding from Amazon. It’s made from recycled paper with baking soda added to eliminate odors.

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