Construction sand on the floor of coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by sshoreland, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. sshoreland

    sshoreland Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 11, 2012
    I read several postings here regarding using construction sand on the floor. I couldnt find that post again but thought it said it dried out quick? Any who, I bought a load of clean river sand and put it in the coop about 3 inches deep along with DE, i have a raised coop and linoleum flooring with 23 hens and 2 roosters. Everytime i go down and rake it and scoop it, just like a litter box, the hen house is filled with a strong amonia oder, STRONG. It takes a couple of days to settle down. Now that winter has settled in, i cant just open the doors and let it air out. Why do i have such a strong amonia odor and how can i keep that from happening? I rake and scoop every other week but have not done it in 4 weeks because of the cold.

    Any ideas? Or solutions?
  2. skunknchatter

    skunknchatter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2007
    Northern Utah
    I'm not an expert but river sand and construction sand are not the same. River sand will be much finer and hold the moisture in. That's all I got.
  3. chfite

    chfite Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 7, 2011
    Taylors, SC
    I used river sand in the run and pine shavings in the coop. The shavings are somewhat absorbent and readily fluffed up the chickens when they scratch around. The fluffing allows the moisture to evaporate along with any ammonia. The sand will tend to hold some moisture and ammonia.

    Many on this board use the Deep Litter method. This involves pine shavings or its equivalent layered in the coop. From time to time it is turned over and more shavings added. The coop is cleaned once or twice a year. This will manage the smell and the moisture, given that your coop has adequate ventilation to maintain a supply of fresh air.

    The chickens need fresh air more than they need to be protected from the cold. They have the super duper feather comforters to keep them warm, but only fresh air will provide fresh air. There should be adequate ventilation to keep the ammonia smell under control. The accumulated moisture in the air will give rise to the right conditions for frostbite on the combs and wattles. The ammonia smell is its own poison.

    The temperature never goes below 0F here. The vents that are open in the summer are the same ones open in the winter.

  4. Kazfam

    Kazfam Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 15, 2013
    We use play sand and scoop it out (with a giant cat litter scoop) every morning. Poop goes right into the compost which is conveniently located next to the coop. We find this method very efficient. IF we did not scoop it out every day it would smell terribly. We leave the door open all day and the girls go in and out freely - this helps airing out the coop. The run is fenced.

    We live in South Carolina - a few mornings have been in the 20's recently - but that does not seem to keep the girls from leaving the coop so that it can be scooped clean.

    Fresh sand is added periodically to replenish any that is removed by scooping.
  5. RWD

    RWD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 2, 2011
    Wartrace TN.
    Sounds like the sand is holding water at the bottom, did you put down plastic or something that would keep the sand from draining into the soil properly? The sand should be 4-6 inches thick and only disturb the very top when using a cat litter scoop to clean out the manure.
  6. Stynch

    Stynch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2013
    Buckeye, AZ
    We also use construction sand in our coop. It's 2-3" deep, and every morning, I take care of it with a kitty litter scoop. Once every couple of weeks, I add a bit more sand and some DE. We never have any moisture problems or odor, maybe because we are well-ventilated - the door is always open, plus we have a vent up high on each wall. In the nest boxes, we use shavings mixed with a little DE so our eggs are always nice and clean!
  7. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    Even in cold climates good ventilation is essential - if you are noticing odor you need better ventilation. Even at subzero temps there is always a window open in our coop.
  8. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 18, 2012
    Northern Virginia
    My Coop
    Many at BYC have good luck with sand in the coop and highly recommend it but I personally didn't like it. I had it under my roosts and noticed exactly what you're experiencing. It worked well at first but soon became dingy and dirty looking and then began to smell even though I was scooping poop on a daily basis.

    There's a good bit of liquid in chicken poop and I can only figure that the liquid was seeping to the bottom of the sand and causing the odor. I had no way to "wash" it out of the sand and would dig down to turn the sand, bringing the wet bottom layer to the top to dry out.

    This became way too time consuming - both the poop scooping and the sand turning - so I removed my sand and went back to deep litter. I've not had any problem with odor since then and there's much less labor involved as there's no daily poop scooping and then toting the scooped poop to the compost pile.

    Everyone's experience is different and - while many love using sand - it's just not for me.
  9. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    X2, from the sound of it(Strong ammonia smell) you HAVE to open your coop up more. This is not so much a problem with the sand, but poor air exchange. Don't worry so much about the cold. You are setting the table for respiratory problems. With 25 birds in the coop, you REALLY need fresh air/ventilation.

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