Seeing the photo above, some might ask: what on earth are we doing here? Making hay. But why? In an inner city backyard? There are no big meadows or cows close by!
Well, we are using it as the chicken coop bedding for our pet chickens! Instead of buying hay or wood shavings for the bedding, we tried to make some. It works!
In our bid to live more sustainably in the city, making hay is one little step towards greener living. It reduces waste and saves money. It might seem insignificant, but all the little things do add up.
How to Make Hay
Hay is basically cut and dried grass. It’s usually made on farms to feed stock during the winter or dry season, but also as bedding and/or food for pets. Straw on the other hand is a byproduct from grain production like wheat.
Although you can’t make haystacks as above form suburban lawn 🙂 (you’ll need taller grass and lots of it), grass clippings are excellent for making hay in smaller amount. The two most important things to check are:
- Lawn shouldn’t be chemically treated: no weed killing solution or chemical fertiliser used.
- The weather: do it on a sunny and wind free day. As the saying goes: Make hay while the sun shines!
The first point is obvious and if you have kids playing on the grass area you probably don’t use chemicals anyway. When asking the lawn moving guys to leave some grass clippings, I always remind them not to put any from the nature strip between the pavement and the road as it might contain dog’s poo or cigarette buts.
A perfect day for making hay is when it’s sunny and calm. Spread the grass clippings in a thin layer on the ground, preferably on the concrete. Turn it and mix it around a few times during the day. It shouldn’t take more than half a day or so until it’s completely dry. Before night time, gather it on a pile and store in a box or another container and leave in the dry place.
On a rainy day I don’t bother making hay, even in the sheltered area as it’s too humid. I can’t choose the day as the grass is always cut on Tuesday. Instead, I give a portion of freshly cut grass to our pet chickens to eat (only on the first day!) and the rest goes in the veggie garden as mulch. The grass breaks down into organic matter enriching soil. It is also beneficial to leave some clippings on the lawn. Alternatively, toss it into the compost bin, but no thicker than 5-6 cm.
If you have rabbits or guinea pigs, you might like to try making hay for your pet as food.
Hay as Chicken Coop Bedding
Here you can see our pet chicken Sunflower, the boss, inspecting the fresh hay layer in the coop!
As said, we use hay as bedding for the chicken coop. We have 3 backyard chickens and they use the coop only for sleeping. At daytime they are in their chicken run. Fresh hay has a lovely smell, at least until the chickens go to sleep :-)(yes, chickens poo during the sleep, too!) . The coop is cleaned once or twice a week and the whole hay bedding and the chicken poo goes into the compost bin and makes great fertiliser for the veggie garden. Grass clipping recycling at its best!
Here are some ideas for recycling grass clippings:
- Make hay for pets’ bedding/food
- Feed it to the chickens (freshly cut only)
- Leave them on the lawn as a fertiliser
- Mulch the garden
- Incorporate into the soil in the garden
- Compost the grass clippings
- Put them into the green waste bin, anything but…
- Just don’t throw the grass clippings into the rubbish and add to the already full landfills. Only…
- In one instance trow the grass clippings in the bin: If the turf was treated with chemicals! That grass has been killed long before it was cut!