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Best Pig Bedding Materials Explained [Hay vs Straw vs Leaves!]

Despite the common myth circulated about pigs being dirty, unsanitary animals, they’re some of the cleanest around! 

They don’t like to lay in filthy beds of their own making. So it’s critical to choose the best pig bedding that is absorbent and cost-effective.

Of course, choosing the right bedding isn’t always easy. Pigs will snack on their beds or even roll around in their bedding. Anything to entertain themselves.

But with the right bedding choice, they will be more content and comfortable animals. The right pig bedding makes all the difference for their health and happiness. 

So – let’s discuss the best bedding option and some other natural alternatives for your pig’s bedding.

That way – your pigs are happy. And you’ll also feel good about keeping your pig drove comfy in their dens. (And pens!)

Sound good?

What Is the Best Pig Bedding?

Straw is the best option for pig bedding. It’s comfortable for the pigs, and it’s absorbent. Straw can be on the pricey side. Also, like most other bedding for pigs, straw needs to be changed regularly to maintain a safe, clean environment. 

There are other pig bedding options you can choose from, too. Hay, fallen leaves, pine shavings, and hulls are suitable options, especially if you can’t afford straw. These straw substitutes and supplements suffice if these materials are more readily available where you live.

adorable baby piglet resting in straw bedding
Look at this adorable baby pig resting in its straw bed. They look happy, relaxed, and healthy. You can help your pigs stay cozy and content by keeping their bedding dry. Contrary to popular belief, pigs emit moisture. Pigs sweat! Help keep them comfy by changing their bedding frequently. Ventilation and airflow also help.

Do Pigs Need Bedding? 

Pigs don’t necessarily need bedding – especially when managing a large operation of pigs which usually have slotted floors. However, it’s highly encouraged to provide your pigs with bedding as it promotes the overall well-being of the animals.

For example, straw beds help keep the pigs entertained and happy. They can chew on it, play in it, and roll around freely. This option is helpful if you’re raising pigs indoors.

Laying down pig bedding is necessary for the winter months, especially if the pig’s flooring is concrete. (See here for tips on how to keep your farm animals warm in winter!)

During winter, double the amount of bedding you’re already laying down. Or, if you don’t typically use bedding, make sure there’s enough bedding on the floor for the pigs to make piles and snuggle. Keep your pigs doubly cozy in the winter.

The right bedding can make your barn more sanitary and comfortable for the pigs to lie in, especially during more sensitive periods like farrowing. Of course, you need to remember to change it regularly for the best results. 

Read More – What Are Feeder Pigs? How Do You Raise Them?

Pig Bedding Options and Materials 

Straw is one of the best pig bedding options. However, it’s certainly not the only one. 

Straw Materials

We already mentioned that straw is one of the best options for pig bedding. There are several types of straw to consider.

  • Barley straw: Barley straw is the most popular material as it’s soft and less dusty. However, it does tend to remain damp. 
  • Wheat straw: This is also a popular pig bedding material with lower costs. We’ve heard rumors that pigs don’t like the taste of wheat straw over other straw materials, though. We’re not sure why – we’ll have to interview a series of pigs the next time we get a chance!
  • Oat straw: Oat straw is incredibly soft and lightweight. Additionally, this material is one of the more absorbent materials for pig and swine bedding.

Alternatives to Straw

Again, straw is not the only option for keeping your pig drift comfy and safe. Consider these options.

  • Peanut hulls: Hulls have a contrasting result to barley straw. They absorb more moisture. Plus, these hulls are more economically sound than most other straw options. 
  • Pine shavings: Pine shavings are easy to find or purchase and provide a nice-smelling environment for a certain amount of time. Additionally, pine shavings tend not to stick together as much. So it’ll make for more consistent comfort for the pigs.
  • Old hay: Old hay is a great cost-effective alternative. It’s super-absorbent, and the pigs typically enjoy snacking and munching on it now and then – bonus!
  • Fallen leaves: Leaves are a fun fall alternative for your pigs! They are super soft when piled high. Keep in mind that leaves quickly deteriorate when stepped on, laid on, et cetera. So it’s essential to replenish them regularly. 

You can find more information about pig bedding alternatives here.

How Much Bedding Do Pigs Need? 

The amount of pig bedding depends on how many pigs you have and the square footage of the area you’ll be bedding. Typically, pigs need at least eight square feet per animal. Therefore, make sure to purchase enough bedding to cover that amount of space. Cover the bedding area comfortably and adequately.

Additionally, you’ll want to double that amount during winter to keep your pigs warm, comfy, and relaxed. Learn more about deep straw systems and bedding systems for pigs here.

Above all, it’s essential to clean and replace the pig’s bedding. Continuously!

Bacteria can fester and spread if not maintained regularly. Regularly remove the old bedding with a rake or a shovel. Then, hose down the cleared area and wait for it to completely dry. Finally, fill the bedding area with new, clean bedding. 

pigs snoozing and sleeping in straw bedding
A thick pile of fresh straw will make your pigs happy – and appreciative! Straw is our favorite pig bedding material for keeping our sty laid back and healthy. Pigs aren’t that fussy when it comes to their bedding. But – we try our best to give them a comfortable atmosphere. Give them a refreshed bed of clean straw – they will love you for the kind gesture.

What Bedding Is Best for Pigs?

Straw remains the best option for pigs because it’s usually widely favored by the animals. It’s also one of the safest and cleanest options for pig and swine beddings. 

Read More – Why Do Pigs Wag Their Tails? Here Is Why!

More Pig Bedding FAQs

piglets resting in hay straw bedding
Another misconception is that pigs are dirty. They aren’t. Some of them are neat freaks! Help keep their beds clean and dry by separating their water and beds. That way, your pigs have a dry area for sleeping. Why does that work? Because pigs use the bathroom adjacent to their water. So separating the water from their bed is doubly wise. Splitting their bedding and water stations helps keep their bedding dry – and clean.

Raising pigs is one of the best parts of ranching! But – pigs are tremendously curious creatures. 

If you have had pigs for long – you’re sure to encounter a few questions about the best bedding for pigs.

We answered some of the most common pig and swine bedding questions.

We hope these help!

Read More – 35+ Hilarious and Cute Pig Names for Your Entire Herd!

Best Books for Raising Pigs

Once you begin raising pigs? You realize that they’re some of the most intelligent creatures on your farm

And there’s a lot to learn!

So – we penned the following list of the best books for pig ranchers, pig farmers, pig friends, or anyone who raises pigs.

We hope these books help you raise an epic passel of pigs. And – happy pigs at that!

  1. Raising Pigs: Beginners Guide to Raising Healthy and Happy Pigs
  2. Raising Pigs: Beginners Guide to Raising Healthy and Happy Pigs

    Want to raise pigs and swine on your small homestead or farm? Irene Mills is the best person to help! Her book showcases everything homesteaders need to raise happy and healthy pigs. You'll discover the best types of pig breeds for your climate, location, and spacing.

    You'll also prepare a shelter, fence, or barnyard to keep your herd safe - and comfy. Irene also goes into many further details - including feeding, introducing new pigs, plus pig buying tips. And more.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/22/2023 05:09 pm GMT
  3. Hobby Farm Animals: A Comprehensive Guide to Raising Beef Cattle, Chickens, Ducks, Goats, Pigs, Rabbits, and Sheep
  4. Hobby Farm Animals: A Comprehensive Guide to Raising Beef Cattle, Chickens, Ducks, Goats, Pigs, Rabbits, and Sheep

    Want more eggs, meat, and feathers for your farm? Dream of raising more than just pigs? Maybe you have or want chickens, ducks, cattle, sheep, or rabbits? Then Sue Weaver's book is a wealth of valuable details - and insights.

    Her book teaches breeding, handling, health, feeding, and safety for seven farm animals. You also get breed profiles of the most common species. Perfect for new pig farmers or anyone who raises chickens, goats, cattle, ducks, rabbits, or sheep.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/22/2023 06:34 pm GMT
  5. Backyard Farming: Raising Pigs
  6. Backyard Farming: Raising Pigs

    Do you raise pigs for meat? Or maybe that's your goal? Then Kim Pezza's pig raising book is ideal as it's all about backyard pig farming! It's perfect if you're new to homesteading and want to start raising pigs - from scratch.

    You'll learn all about livestock investments, comfy and safe swine housing, various ailments in pigs, pig slaughtering techniques, and the most delicious pig recipes. Perfect for suburban, urban, deep country, or rural farms.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/22/2023 02:44 pm GMT
  7. Storey's Guide to Raising Pigs, 4th Edition
  8. Storey's Guide to Raising Pigs, 4th Edition

    We think this is the best book for environmentally-friendly pig farmers, ranchers, and raisers. Author Kelly Klober shares his best tips and insights for sustainable and efficient hog-raising. Kelly has (nearly) 40 years of pig-raising experience and wisdom to share with his readers.

    This book is the fourth edition of the series and contains a wealth of information on pig selection, raising, housing, butchering, marketing, and pig care.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/22/2023 10:28 pm GMT
  9. Raising Pigs: The Ultimate Guide to Pig Raising on Your Homestead
  10. Raising Pigs: The Ultimate Guide to Pig Raising on Your Homestead

    Not sure which pig breeds work the best for new pig ranchers? Or maybe you're ready to start your pig farm from scratch? Dion Rosser's book shows how to raise your pigs and swine with care. Topics include building comfy housing and fencing, pig nutrition, and swine breeding. Dion also shares twelve methods to turn your pig ranch into a bustling business. Sounds neat!

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/23/2023 12:09 am GMT


While considering bedding options for your pigs, we highly encourage you to choose a natural bedding option.

Manufactured beddings can contain chemicals that could be harmful to them in the long run.

Although these options look more comfortable, can result in easy cleaning, and even reduce smell, they might not be healthy for your herds in the long term.

Instead, consider natural options such as straw, old hay, pine shavings, fallen leaves, or peanut hulls.

Pigs like to sample their bedding. In other words, they might snack on it when they want something to play with or if they get bored.

These natural bedding alternatives offer entertainment and snack options to keep your pigs active and busy. 

If you have more questions about pig and swine bedding – please ask!

Also – let us know about your pigs!

What bedding material do your hogs, swine, and pigs enjoy most?

We would love to know!

Thanks again for reading.

Have a great day!


  • Rebekah Pierce

    Rebekah Pierce started a small farm with her husband in 2016 in upstate New York, near her native Adirondack Mountains. With a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in special education, she has been writing professionally since 2017, but only recently left the world of teaching to pursue writing and farming full time. She now writes full-time in the education, business, finance, and of course, homesteading and farming niches.

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