Converting to Sand in chicken coop... I want to hear from you!

Oct 14, 2018
70
96
77
Upstate New York
Hello Friends,

I live in Upstate NY where winter temps can drop below zero for stretches of time (and of course wind chill). I am considering changing from shavings/chips to sand on the floor of both of the chicken coop; for hygienic reasons (easier to clean?).

If you have switched to sand floors INSIDE your chicken coop, I'd like to hear from you!

What works? What doesn't? What do you like best about sand on the floor? What do you dislike?

Any structural changes that have been helpful?

Do you find it easier to clean, more hygienic?

Any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and guidance.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
24,163
35,288
1,122
Colorado Rockies
I switched from shavings to sand in my coops years ago, and I've never had any second thoughts. It's easy to keep clean, and provides a good cushion as chickens dismount their perches. I heat my coops in winter to just above freezing, and the sand acts as a heat sink, keeping the coops at a consistent temp.

The only negative is the dust. But with chickens, you'd likely have dust even if they were on Antique Italian Majolica Tile.
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 26, 2008
33,553
67,228
1,412
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
My Coop
I tried sand once and went back to shavings.

I do not heat my coop, so any moisture in the sand froze it into concrete.

I find the woodchips/shavings will have just small dirty clumps freeze, and those frozen clumps can be tossed out. The wood shavings remaining can then be fluffed and turned and kept clean longer.

Adding poop shelves under the perches has also been a huge help in keeping the floor bedding cleaner.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
97,926
134,599
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Nay to sand, not a fan.
It will not absorb moisture or ammonia, it will freeze if damp at all.
Except maybe on poop boards, but PDZ is better IMO.

Eventually sand becomes saturated with pulverized poop, you can't sift it all out, and when damp it will stink. Then what do you do with it? I learned this from using it in a brooder, after a few rounds of chicks it reeked and I used it to fill holes in the lawn from an auto accident. It might work well in an arid climate or in a small coop, but in a decent sized coop/run it's not a great choice.


My Cleaning Blurb:
What kind of bedding you use may depend on how you manage the manure.
This is about cleaning, but covers my big picture

-I use poop boards under roosts with thin(<1/2") layer of sand/PDZ mix, sifted daily(takes 5-10mins) into bucket going to friends compost.

-Scrape big or wet poops off roost and ramps as needed.

-Pine shavings on coop floor, add some occasionally, totally changed out once or twice a year, old shavings added to run.

- My runs have semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are best IMO.

-Nests are bedded with straw, add some occasionally, change out if needed(broken egg).

There is no odor, unless a fresh cecal has been dropped and when I open the bucket to add more poop.

That's how I keep it 'clean', have not found any reason to clean 'deeper' in 5 years.
 
Oct 14, 2018
70
96
77
Upstate New York
I switched from shavings to sand in my coops years ago, and I've never had any second thoughts. It's easy to keep clean, and provides a good cushion as chickens dismount their perches. I heat my coops in winter to just above freezing, and the sand acts as a heat sink, keeping the coops at a consistent temp.

The only negative is the dust. But with chickens, you'd likely have dust even if they were on Antique Italian Majolica Tile.

Great to hear that you've had a positive experience. I hear you about the dust! I provide a safe heat lamp in my coop/s, so I like the heat sink quality the sand will provide.

Questions: How deep is the sand layer in your coop?
How do you clean the sand, with a cat litter scoop?
If any water spills, how do you manage that?
 
Oct 14, 2018
70
96
77
Upstate New York
I tried sand once and went back to shavings.

I do not heat my coop, so any moisture in the sand froze it into concrete.

I find the woodchips/shavings will have just small dirty clumps freeze, and those frozen clumps can be tossed out. The wood shavings remaining can then be fluffed and turned and kept clean longer.

Adding poop shelves under the perches has also been a huge help in keeping the floor bedding cleaner.

Thanks for your reply!

I do provide a heat lamp, so if I switch, I won't have the problem you mention about moist sand freezing...

I've been through a winter with woodships/shavings. My experience was that the chips held a fair amount of moisture in the coop, even though I was vigilant as possible about picking up the poop clumps.

I have added a poop board in one coop it it works like a charm! Not as much room in my smaller coop, so if I switch to sand in there it will serve as a sandy poop board floor rather than a shelf...

Lots to think about!!!
 

marcglider

In the Brooder
Jul 26, 2019
24
33
41
Central Florida
I just started out keeping chickens... I have shavings on the pans in the coop, I use baking soda and DE for the smell and bugs, seems to work great here in Florida... I am using coarse sand in my 10x10 run and I LOVE it! I can just rake it around, they peck at it for grit, it has been raining here quite a bit so it seems to be washing through their waste and not getting muddy, I also spread around baking soda and DE occasionally... I have been to several breeders setups and they all seem to be quite "stinky" and messy... not mine :)
 

gtaus

Free Ranging
Mar 29, 2019
2,767
10,103
597
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
I am considering changing from shavings/chips to sand on the floor of both of the chicken coop; for hygienic reasons (easier to clean?).

How deep is your litter of shavings/chips? I use a deep litter of woodchips about 6 inches and have been very happy with it. It still smells fresh after 3 months. I did go in there once about a month ago and fluffed up the chips, but that's all the maintenance I have done. I live on a lake and have all the free sand I could want, but I just don't see the advantage of using sand over my woodchip deep litter. But, this is my first year with laying hens so I am still learning what works for me.
 

anderstr196

Songster
Nov 12, 2018
215
647
216
NW Alabama
I use sand for my coops mixed with PDZ. I only have about 3” of the sand in each coop so I don’t follow the deep method. Every other day I scoop all the poop like you would with cat litter. I tried shaving but the smell and frustration of wet poop stuck to my birds feet drove me crazy, especially with my feathered leg birds. With the sand my birds have clean feet and I don’t have any smell.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
24,163
35,288
1,122
Colorado Rockies
I never have water in the coops. The water is out in the run in five gallon Igloo jugs with vertical nipples. I have trays under the nipples to catch any drips so the sand stays dry.

The sand in coops and runs is four to six inches deep, although right now it's down to two inches. The wet poop clumps like cat litter and any damp sand gets removed gradually along with the poop. I purposely do not add sand until it gets very shallow. That way, the clean, fresh sand is on top.

I use a sturdy metal cat box scoop to scoop poop in my sand runs and coops. I have a very arid climate, so there's never been any frozen wet sand to deal with. My set up is designed to eliminate water spills. Any wet sand from wet poop gets removed when I scoop. I'm a very compulsive neat freak, and the sand has performed very well to meet my high expectations.
 

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