Alas, the guys at the feed barn didn't have any straw, so I asked for a bale of lucerne. I told the guy it was for my chook run, and he said "Well, you're going to find lucerne a bit expensive for that, what we use with the chooks we're selling here, is Cane Mulch. It's a good bedding and they like to dig around in it, and it won't cost as much as hay.
I had already gone over to their pens when I arrived, to admire the lovely little POL pullets they had. Very nice little ISA Browns and Australorp Commercials. Healthy, calm, happy and mildly curious about us, which is what I look for when I am buying chooks, but I don't need any POLs atm as I am hoping to get some nice ones from Bertha's clutch.
Anyway, the cane mulch was in use in those pens, and the little chookies were indeed having a lovely dig and scratch and dust bathe in it, so I accepted the guy's advice. (It was cheap, too only $9.90AUD for enough to cover 7m². That is more than enough to do my little run a few times and I have read that this type of mulch doesn't go soggy, so that will be a plus.
I went up and tossed some into the run this morning and then was going to get my rake to spread it out with, but I changed my mind when I noticed the petticoat gang's reaction to it. Oh! The digging, the kicking, the scratching and wing flaps of excitement! This was the newest sensation since Kangaroo meat as far as they were concerned!
My dismal, rainy day depressed chooks turned into jolly scratching machines as they cooed and clucked and raked through the sweet smelling mulch for anything of interest. I'm sold! I will continue to buy this mulch when necessary to supplement the leaf mulch I use from the gardens and keep the hens entertained with something to scratch and roll around in.
I also was lucky enough to be near the nesting box with my camera today when Rosie was making her "Egg laying purr" sound. I recorded it to share.