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Friday, February 20, 2015

Sand VS. Straw Or Shavings In The Coop

There is quite the debate out there about what is the best flooring in the coop and folks ask me what is best sand vs. straw or shavings in the coop? Is sand best? What about straw or shavings in your chicken coop? Opinions vary on raising backyard chickens and the online community is very opinionated.


I will share what I use in my southern California chicken coop. We are dry for the most part and our soil in the garden coop is clay so I use sand in the base of the chicken coop or the little run. Water drains quickly with sand and it dries fast without any mold or mildew. It also dries out the chicken poop very quickly and all I have to do is filter the droppings with my cat litter scoop every once in a while but honestly it breaks down fast in there with no smell.

I also pour builder grade sand around the run and in the chickens dust bathing areas. The chickens love it and it makes for a nice dry bathing area. Play sand in the chicken coop is fine too. It's chicken flooring and they are pooping. I would not over worry as long as you are able to maintain a clean dry chicken coop floor. I do mix organic planter mix and peat in as well to build up soil about twice a year.

The addition of sand keeps our soil from forming into hard mounds when the chickens scratch and make dust baths. It keeps soil loose so I can just rake to smooth out all the holes. When it rains it helps the water to absorb faster as well.


Now up in the actual hen house and in the nest boxes where they chickens lay, I do not use sand but have found I like straw the best. I have tried hay, shavings and now have found I love to use the chopped straw.



The shavings take too long to break down in the compost and the hay is longer and harder to clean on a daily basis when I want to spot clean the droppings. When I finally started using the straw, I fell in love with it. Funny cause we are talking about where my chickens poop. But I am a gardener first and the straw is awesome to even mulch around my plants. It breaks down quickly and also makes wonderful fast compost. I am sold. Can you tell?

So there is my take on the debate of sand vs. shavings in the coop. All of us live in different weather conditions as well and here we are dry for the most part. You have to try out what is best for your area and needs. Opinions are strong in the chicken keeping world but trial and error is the number one advisor.

See my post on how to get rid of flies in the chicken coop.

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15 comments:

Maryjane-The Beehive Cottage said...

Great post! I have had sand in my coop and covered run for over a year now. I love it! Clean up is so easy and the run and coop is always clean and fresh smelling. With my first flock I had straw & shavings and found it hard to keep clean. You are right about the dust baths! My hens love it! A big "thumbs up" for sand! xox

Kathleen Grace said...

We have always used pine shavings and I keep them changed regularly! I hadn't heard about using sand until just recently and I am intrigued enough to want to try it when things warm up. Thanks for the advice and the testimonial about how it works for you!

Cozy Little House said...

Next I bet someone is going to be asking you to write a book on urban chicken keeping.
Brenda

Barbara Neubeck said...

...Hi Elaine..... my dad used straw in the nests when I was a little kid..... our soil was great and he always had a great vegie path growing.... so he just left the soil bare for the chooks to scratch around in.......
Hugs... Barb xxx

daisy g said...

It's always good to hear about what works for others. I'll be pinning this for when we get our chickens.

Maureen Wyatt said...

My chickens prefer straw in the coop but I'm thinking of getting a load of sand for the run. I'm on heavy clay and the mud gets pretty bad in wet weather. I think it will be better for their feet and it sure will be better for me to walk through.

Rod and Sharon Phillips said...

What is everyone's opinion on what works best to prevent foot issues

Rod and Sharon Phillips said...

What is everyone's opinion about what works best to prevent foot issues

Sunny Simple Life said...

I have never had a problem. I imagine drier is better. Lots of mud is never good.

Lyn Hillman said...

I live in Alaska and I'm going to start keeping chickens for eggs soon. I want to keep the girls happy and healthy. I was wondering if you think it would be a good idea to use the straw in winter, (insulation), and sand in the summer, (cooler).

Sunny Simple Life said...

Lyn as you know I am in So. California so our winters are mild. Straw would be better I am sure for insulation as you mentioned. Maybe you can check with your local feed store as to what is commonly used in the winter. Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

Lani Ronda said...

I live in Washington and love the idea of the sand since we get a lot of rain...I don't currently have chickens but plan on getting them this spring so we are planning the coop...how much sand do I need (2-3 inches deep???)? Thanks for your help.

Sheri McNeil said...

It looks to me like your bedding is chopped hay, not straw. Have you had any problems with impacted crops? I always heard not to let hens have hay, but now I'm hearing a lot of people that do have hay for them.

Sunny Simple Life said...

I am using Koop Clean right now so whatever they use but I did use timothy hay the first couple years but never a case of impacted crop yet.

Marvin Taming said...

Thanks for this!!!

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