Can You Use Hay for Your Chicken? [The Flock Bedding Debate]

Sharing is caring!

Wondering, “can you use hay for chicken bedding?” Be AMAZED to hear this:

Yes, you can use hay for chicken bedding.

Among the types of bedding, hay, a crop, provides a great alternative to other forms of bedding and is SUPER soft!

Now that you’re hooked on this new golden chicken coop bedding called hay, I’ve discussed only the tip of the iceberg ― you bet there’s more (read on)…

Key Takeaways

  • Among different types of bedding, hay is an excellent chicken coop bedding, providing your chickens with a great slumber.
  • What makes proper bedding is based on cardinal qualities ― It should be comfortable, mold-resistant, and easy to clean.
  • Hay’s advantages are tied to lower cost and a nutritious treat, serving your chickens with a munch.

Is Hay a Good Option for Chicken Bedding?

Chickens require much maintenance to keep them healthy and produce quality eggs. One of them is their bedding.

This is where they will go to lay eggs, rest at night, and even relieve themselves.

So, the correct material used for their bedding is uttermost important. It should be comfortable, mold-resistant, and easy to clean. There are a lot of bedding materials available, including hay.

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

hay for chicken bedding

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 be disposed of once used.

What it comes down to is variety: preferences vary from person to person. For some, hay is a miracle cure. For others, it’s only a mediocre alternative.

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

For fascinating insights into the poultry world, check out our detailed articles – “Do Chickens Need Water at Night” and “Do Chickens Pass Gas,” helping you become an expert on your flock’s needs and peculiarities.

Advantages Of Using Hay As Chicken Bedding

So, can you use hay for chicken bedding? Now that you know the answer is an emphatic ‘yes,’ there’s more good news…

1. Hay is the Least Expensive Bedding

Hay is very cheap; sometimes, you can find it for free. Hay is the cheapest compared to other bedding options like straw, sand, and wood shavings.

Hay can be found online or at many pet stores, and it’s always available no matter the time of year.

Sometimes, you can even find it at a farm. If you have your farm and grow grasses, legumes, and grains, hay is an endless supply for you.

2. Hay is Nutritious and Keeps Chickens Busy

One thing about hay is that it’s rich in protein, calcium, and other nutrients.

By using hay as bedding, you will keep your feathered darlings busy as they will peck at the hay. Do you know what else? From all this pecking and eating, the chickens will get a boost in nutrition too!

So, don’t be shy at hay! It makes a tasty treat…

Disadvantages Of Using Hay As Chicken Bedding

1. Hay is high in nitrogen

Most of the time, hay will usually have too many fertilizers used. This means that the chemicals will cause the hay to have a high nitrogen content.

Since the hay cannot 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. Using hay as bedding for chickens, it will only make the coop smell worse.

2. Chickens can contract deadly diseases

Hay is super absorbent 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 with a high spore count [1].

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

What is the Deep Litter Method?

According to Greencross Vet Matthew Gosbell, BVSc, MANZCVS. “Keeping the coop clean and dry is also essential as most bacteria, fungi, and parasites thrive in warm, moist environments. [2]”

You know the hassle if you’ve ever battled with a dirty chicken coop!

LUCKILY, you can use a secret method: the deep litter method.

Simple, fast, and natural, this method requires little maintenance and, better yet, needs no fancy equipment ― only a shovel or a rake. 

If you know the magic of compost for your gardens, you’ll LOVE to hear that the deep litter method is just this: turning your chicken coop into layers of compost…

To perform this method, you need only a heartbeat and some patience! Here are the big 3:

1. Choose carbon-based bedding. 

2. Turn the hay over regularly.

3. Ensure that the ventilation is efficient.

When you persist, you’ll witness the following:

All the old hay will form layers, some of the hay itself and some of the chickens’ droppings. The deeper these layers go, the more the compost!

The process happens naturally, as does everything in nature, so give it time and don’t rush.

You may wonder, “What should I do with the chicken droppings stuck inside the layers?” Simple:

Use a shovel or rake to shake the bedding, gradually turning it over. The result? You’ll witness how the dropping will fall to the bottom and collect at the right spot.

Take note: Do clean the coop once a year to prevent bacteria from forming.

Now, before I leave you, I want to introduce you to a catchy video on the litter method:


1. Why does coop bedding matter?

Bedding not only absorbs odors but provides your chickens with an excellent platform to sleep and lay eggs.

2. Is hay okay to use on the floor of your chicken house in the winter?

By using hay as a foundation, your chickens will be cozier and more suited for the winter months, not to mention for their eggs.


So, your worries about “can you use hay for chicken bedding” is finally put to bed (pun intended). Let me wrap this up:

If you’re a proud chicken keeper, you’ll naturally gravitate toward a good bedding option for your chickens. 

Natural options such as pine shavings and cedar shavings provide chickens with a good bedding source, but hay is also a great option!

If you want to spice up your backyard chicken coop with hay, consider combining your trick of the trade with the DEEP LITTER METHOD.

Always heed caution: maximize odor control by checking for fresh bedding. If the bedding smells, replace the hay ― it’s that simple!

flocks on hay


1. Lorenzoni G. Aspergillosis in Poultry [Internet]. Penn State Extension. Available from:

2. Do Chickens Get Cold? [Internet]. Greencross Vets. Available from:

Alina Hartley
Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
Follow her on:
Read her latest articles HERE
Learn more about her HERE.

Leave a Comment