I use sand in my brooder and I love it! No smell, very absorbent, easy to clean. I have not used it in the coop though. Some people have, they say it's better in warmer weather because stuff feezing into clumps in colder climate, and with moisture in general freezing it in the winter. But, if you are going to scoop things up anyway I'm not sure myself if itnwould make that much of a difference. I live in northern NY and I am considering it. As far as what to clean it with, I saw something at TSC that looked like a giant cat litter scoop, I think it's actually used in horse barns but it looked like it might work.