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I did a search for "straw" and looked at all the results. Nothing really answers my particular question: how often do I change it?

Here's the background of my question. I'm going to make shelters made out of plastic storage bins. Somewhere (I didn't bookmark the site, so I'd have to find it again), I saw a plan to use a 30 gallon, with styrofoam sheets between it and an 18 gallon which is the one the cats would actually be in. Besides styrofoam, I would like to use straw...but on the outsides. I figure one layer of bales under the bins, just to keep them up off the ground a bit, then around the sides/back of the bins for extra insulation and maybe a couple on top so that it makes it more sturdy and the bins wouldn't tip over... so basically have straw surrounding the bins. Inside the bins, I was thinking of using fleece blankets - somewhere on this board I heard that regular towels draw body heat away - and fleece usually keeps ME plenty warm, and I'm a scrawny 80lb frail girl. The blankets would be washed weekly.

So anyway... as the straw won't be used for bedding itself, just more of a 'structure', how often should it be changed? I'll have a tarp over it, so rain & snow shouldn't ruin it too fast... there's also other critters that might be digging around in it (we have at least 2 families of squirrels in the yard), and might eventually make it not so stable after a while. Should I change it only when needed because of damage, or keep it relatively fresh by using new bales once a month?

I know it won't be winter again for a while, but I like to plan ahead!

P.S. I have a choice of wheat or barley straw... is one better than the other?
 
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