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We switched over to nesting pads in our nesting boxes several weeks ago and we will never go back to straw again!
Why we made the switch to nesting pads:
For several years prior we used straw because it was readily available in our area and affordable. Our hens seemed to like the material but they were constantly kicking the straw out of the boxes as they tried to make nests. We would find a huge mess when we collected eggs - straw was everywhere BUT the box and the eggs were often dirty/soiled.
We were constantly cleaning the boxes and adding new straw – it wasn’t fun!
We started using Eaton Pet and Pasture Aspen Nesting Pads recently and were AMAZED at how well they worked.
Here’s some the major takeaways and benefits of making the switch:
1. Improved Egg Quality/ Cleanliness:
Nesting pads provide a clean and comfortable surface for hens to lay their eggs. This can help prevent egg breakage and reduce the likelihood of dirty or soiled eggs, leading to better overall egg quality and easier to clean eggs! If you’ve ever found a broken egg in a nesting box, you know how much of a pain it can be to clean up. Since making the switch we have noticed that our hens eggs are noticeably cleaner and we haven’t had any broken eggs!
Another added benefit is that nesting pads are designed to be easily replaced, promoting better hygiene in the nesting area. Unlike straw or shavings, which can trap moisture and become soiled quickly, nesting pads are often made from materials that absorb moisture and are easy to remove and replace
2. Maintaining Nesting Boxes:
Cleaning the nesting boxes with nesting pads is much more efficient than managing straw, shavings, or another medium. You can easily remove the nesting pads, compost them, and add a new one!
We like the Aspen Nesting Pads because they are compostable similar to straw and shavings! Use our code: “MASONDIXONACRES20” to get 20% off your order.
3. Comfort for Hens:
Nesting pads offer a soft and cozy surface for hens to lay their eggs similar to a bed of straw or pine shavings! The added benefit with nesting pads is that the chickens can’t scratch out the nesting pad material because of the way it is woven. Our girls have nestled in, making a nest, but the material on the pads just stretches out rather than extending beyond the box.
While nesting pads might be a bit more expensive than a bale of straw or pine shavings, we find that we don’t need to clean the nesting boxes as often which means less changing of materials!
Other nesting pads:
There are other nesting pads on the market that are made of materials that can be washed including:
The benefit to using something that is reusable and washable is that you can buy it once and maintain it; however, we personally love that the aspen nesting pads can be composted when they need replaced!
It's essential to consider your flock's specific needs and preferences when choosing nesting materials. Some hens may prefer straw or shavings, and others may readily adapt to nesting pads. Regularly monitoring the condition of the nesting material and observing your chickens' behavior can help you determine what works best for your flock!