Using Sand In the Chicken Coop

By 104homestead · Jul 1, 2015 · ·
  1. 104homestead

    Using Sand In the Chicken Coop

    Sand is the answer to an obsessive person’s dreams. Close your eyes and imagine: Beautifully manicured chicken feet (free of poo), zen garden furrows in the ground, everything staying in its place instead of blowing around whenever a wing is flapped. Imagine walking in and smelling… nothing. Sand in the coop, my friends, is the answer.

    I started last spring using sand in the coop and run. The birds had decimated the lawn leaving treacherous mud in its wake. Getting to the water station was becoming an Olympic feat. As usual, I turned People were singing the praises of using sand to help with drainage and to replace more traditional bedding options.

    Traditional bedding can be a nightmare in a run because it is exposed to the elements. It can get soggy, moldy or just smell terrible. The sand suffers none of those problems. There are, however, things you must do so that your sand does what you want it to do.

    Choosing the Right Sand

    • Type: It should be sand that has various sizes mixed in. Bank run or construction sand are great choices. Playsand and sandbox sand floats and you will regret using it.
    • Depth: A thin layer will not give you the results you want. Poo will shift below to the ground and stink to high heaven. In the coop you can get away with 3-4″ so long as it’s not placed right on the ground. This is good for coops with plywood or a lined floor. In the run, 6-8″ is ideal for drainage.
    Like any bedding option, neglected bedding can cause health issues for your birds. Proper cleaning is important to your birds’ health.
    Even More Pros

    In addition to the “pros” already mentioned, here are a few more reasons to choose sand:

    • It’s cost-effective. For anywhere from $10-$20 you can get an entire truckload of sand from a quarry.
    • It creates a natural dust bath area and provides all the grit you could need.
    • It stays dry. It quickly dries poo and doesn’t retain moisture so you don’t need to worry about mold or bugs.
    • It stays cool in the summer, even during the biggest heat waves.
    • It conserves feed. Pelletized feed stays on the surface and can easily be found by hungry birds.
    • Composting made easy! No bedding that needs to be broken down.
    • Aesthetically pleasing. You can even create a nice zen garden feel (though the birds may not appreciate your efforts and destroy it quickly).
    • Less chance of frostbite during the winter because there is no moisture to build up.
    Because of all the great results in the run, I added sand to the coop as well. No more tracking bedding in and out of the house. I even sprinkle some on the poop trays for easy sifting.


    Maintenance is super easy too! A modified stall rake makes a giant kitty litter scoop. Just use zip ties to attach some hardware cloth. Once a year I completely clean out the coop and add new sand. Twice a year I add some pelletized lime to the run and refresh any lost sand in the run. In the winter I throw in some ash from the fireplace and in the summer I sprinkle in some DE.

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Recent User Reviews

  1. ChickenzGurl
    "Great way to keep a clean coop!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 13, 2018
    What a great way of keeping not just a clean coop, but clean chickens as well! That is so smart! I am definitely going to do this in the next coop clean out.
  2. True Patriot
    "Good information"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 12, 2018
    A nice quick and to the point article on the benefits of sand. The only thing I would do differently would be place a landscape cloth barrier between the sand and the soil to reduce the two mixing and conserve the sand. Overall, good article with good information. Anyone with issues like a wet, muddy run should consider this option.
  3. macombcochick
    "great article"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 11, 2018
    I would never use anything other than sand in the chicken coop. The article was correct on all information. I switched to it one year after dealing with other conventional materials, and swear by it. No more stinky, dirty coop floor. Yes, hens and eggs stay clean too!


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  1. Bookmole353
    We live on the Oregon coast just a little over a mile from a hill of sand . It took 3 loads of sand to fill the pen and the coop. I love it. My chickens love it too. They love the dust bathing. Our only drawback is that we put it on a gravel bed that was already there, they love digging up the gravel. We may have to replace it next summer or at least add more.
      LEPOULETTE likes this.
    Great Article! But now I have a silly newby question. What do you do with the old sand after cleaning coop and run. That's a lot of sand.
      Tomson's Farming likes this.
  3. Reilyjarm
    I am looking for new bedding options for my flock current I am using pine shavings and I hate them. I hate them. I hate them.
    I am leaning towards using sand, but have one major thing holding me back. We live in Louisiana and IT IS HOT. I am concerned the sand will get hot (like it does at the beach) and my ladies will burn their toes. Have any of you found that happens when using sand in your run?
    1. Theladiesandagentleman
      My run is covered so the sand stays cool. It gets into the 100's here and I think the sand is cooler for them than other bedding.
      Reilyjarm likes this.
  4. BrittanyTheYooper
    I use sand and so far I love it! Cost efficent, dust bath friendly, and easy to clean! I am a bit worried about our northern winters here since it's cold but I will probably just add a bundle of straw in one corner for them to burrow in if they get cold
      TexiCaliBlues likes this.
  5. MissNiss
    I've had sand in my coop and run since the beginning and it's been great! I live in the Pacific northwest and we get a lot of rain and have very sandy soil, so I threw some builders sand in my coop on the natural earth and in the run. It's very easy to rake and sift with great, fast drainage. I rake/sift weekly and dust DE over entire surface and my girls love dusting themselves in it. They have very clean feet always, we've had zero mite issue and no flies hang out because everything dries up fast! It's definitely dusty at times which is my only con.
  6. Blooie
    Very well done article. You have helped a lot of people who are trying to make a sensible decision for their situations. I opted for true deep litter (not deep bedding) in my coop and run. The moisture from spilled water and feces is absorbed by the sand, which is why it works so well in some climates. But in deep winters with weeks of limited sunshine and temperatures below zero like we have, that moisture freezes and that can make for a mighty hard landing surface when the birds fly down off the roosts. I’m not a fan of walking on hot sand, so if a run gets strong direct sunlight it would seem to me that it might get a tad warm for the birds as well. So sand might be perfect in some areas, and different options better in other areas. Thanks for highlighting one of those options so well.
  7. CourtK
    I too use sand inside the coop. I use play sand from home depot, but have noticed the grains have become larger. I had preferred getting the finer sand, because I was using a mesh scoop used for reptiles and it sifted great, but I had to switch to a cat litter scoop and I don't think it's a clean sift anymore. i also change out the sand once or twice a year. I throw the used sand on top of the dirt under the raised coop. I keep about an inch of sand over linoleum so if there's any poop that gets through the sand it's no big deal to clean up.

    The run is decomposed granite over 3/4 gravel. I wish I had done something a bit different, but it stays clean enough, probably because my chickens free range in my small backyard. The run does puddle a bit on heavy rains, but that is rare where I live.

      snow5164 likes this.
  8. Michellep224
    Would it be okay to use this method in a run for drainage, and the deep litter method INSIDE the coop?
    I don't think I want all the sand inside my coop.
  9. Theladiesandagentleman
    In my climate sand had been great. I have a little PDZ and DE mixed in as well. I scoop the poop twice a day, takes about five minutes. Not a single fly in the coop or covered run. My chickens free range in our orchard most of the day, and I only have four ladies in my backyard flock, so for my situation I love it.
      MissNiss and snow5164 like this.
  10. EggSighted4Life
    Not my choice after using for a couple years. It wasn't that cheap, either. Now I just use it as grit. And before doing semi deep litter on top of the sand in my covered run, it did stink to high heaven around the edges during rain storms. NOW no smell even when it rains. I would NOT recommend sand to a friend. Pass on the giant litter box... that even though you remove all visible poo, the juice from the poo spreads and dries all over the sand to become one big nasty poo dust box. :sick
    1. Georgeschicks
      What do you use instead?
    2. snow5164
      If it stunk to the high heavens , you weren’t doing the spot cleaning . Just as with shavings and straw you need to clean daily .

      When sand gets wet it clumps, scoop it up no big deal, I’m hands on with my coop, I sit on the sand and My coop and run have no smell ,
    3. EggSighted4Life
      Spot cleaning daily does absolutely nothing for the juice that gets left behind from EVERY single poo and dries into poo dust. AND I don't wanna spot clean daily, but yes, that was WITH spot cleaning daily... did not help the edges of the run when it rained. If people have to use DE or PDZ in their sand... it's because their is a crap ton of ammonia left behind and NO good microbes to break it down.

      Semi deep litter is my current choice and changed the smell of the run edges during rain storms COMPLETELY.

      And I would choose rice hulls over sand. Easy to transport, and a byproduct of something already grown so seems renewable to me. Dries things out much faster than sand and the chooks love scratching in it.
  11. Chicken Whisperers
    This is an awesome way to keep everything clean and healthy! I think I'm going to do it soon!
      snow5164 likes this.
  12. Chicken Girl1
    Very interesting!

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