Sand in the coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by mckeecoop, Jul 8, 2016.

  1. mckeecoop

    mckeecoop Hatching

    Jul 8, 2016
    Jacksonville FL
    I am trying to decide, should I use sand in the coop? If so, what kind of sand? Also, does it stink? I am a first time chicken owner so feel free to share past experiences and tips.
  2. Kim Z

    Kim Z Chirping

    Apr 5, 2014
    Madbury, New Hampshire
    I have had sand in my coop for a few months now and I love it! Pine shavings were fine but needed a lot of maintenance and total clean outs every few weeks. Now I use a sifting shovel once a day, just like scooping out a cat litter pan, and it's heaven. I also mixed in some DE to keep insects down. The result is a super clean no stink coop and the bird's feet are clean too! No poopy feet when I hold them.
    The proper sand is a must. All Purpose Sand like you can get in 50lb bags at a building supply store or delivered via truck from a landscaping company, has a mix of grain sizes. Do not use play sand.
    1 person likes this.
  3. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Songster

    Oct 13, 2008
    i recommend deep litter. you can use straw, dried small or shredded leaves, shavings (non aromatic, so no cedar, pine, etc), dried grass, or better yet, a mix of such stuff, atop a dirt floor. its the best and easiest method for managing manure. it almost never needs to be cleaned out if you do it right. theres no foul odors or daily maintenance, and you can use the old litter as fertilizer if and when uou need some. it works very well with chickens! it seems more practical and more hygenic than sand, and it also provides entertainment because it gives them something to scratch in which is a normally healthy foraging behavior they enjoy. id recommend doing some research on it--theres quite a bit here on byc, and more elsewhere too. sesrch for "deep litter method." its worth it! may save you a lot of trouble and hassle... good luck!
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2016
    Li'lFlock and mckeecoop like this.
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    I also use shavings and stuff as deep litter, because it's easy! Clean out to the garden two or three times each year, max. Gardening neighbors will sometimes come over and clean it out for their own gardens, wonderful! My life does not include time for daily litter scooping, and with more than a very few birds, it's not going to work anyway. It's a management choice that you can change if you don't like what you try first, anyway. I do think that litter is more natural and fun for the birds. Mary
    triplepurpose and mckeecoop like this.
  5. Susan G

    Susan G In the Brooder

    Jul 4, 2016
    Im building a coop with attached roofed run and plan to use sand in the run area and shavings in the coop...seems like a good combo. I will purchase construction grade sand to top the plain fill sand in the area now. Ive read this is clean and healthy for chickens.
  6. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Songster

    Oct 13, 2008
    a covered run is ideal for deep litter, since you can keep it dry that way.

    deep litter most importantly provides a happier more stimulating environment for the chickens by engaging natural scratching/ foraging behavior. some studies suggest it even provides some nutrition and immune system benefits. it also makes recycling the nutrient-rich manure for fertilizer more practical. deep litter becomes part of a functioning, chicken centric ecosystem.

    by contrast sand just becomes a barren wasteland studded with droppings. it requires daily cleaning. but even more importantly it provides no entertainment value/foraging opportunity. (it also provides no nutrition or immune benefits. and it doesn't as conveniently facilitate recycling of nutrients from waste.)

    even UNCOVERED runs can benefit from deep litter too, with some caveats (we do this also). and if they are too large to make that practical they are generally best maintained as pasture.

    one should consider whats most humane for the birds too in design--if not put it foremost among priorities.
    1 person likes this.
  7. dmac1

    dmac1 In the Brooder

    Jul 16, 2015
    I have two coops and two runs. Both coops have a sand floor with a mix of sweet PDZ (stall refresher) mixed in. For my chickens, I will never use anything else. There is no smell. It is easy to clean. It does not harbor mites. Flies are not an issue. The chickens like it for dusting. The girls still scratch and look for treats thrown into the coops daily. I briefly tried pine chips and hated the smell and the need to completely clear out all the soiled chips every two weeks to maintain hygiene. The chips were too slow to break down after removal so I started burning them but that was not a good solution. I had planned to pull out all the sand and replace with fresh after a year but I don't see the need as looks and smells clean and dry. I've used the same sand for 15 months now adding a bag every few months as needed.

    I certainly understand and respect those who use the deep litter method. I have nothing to say about it. The original poster asked about using sand. I am a proponent. I bought washed sand from a home improvement center. It came in bags so it was easy for me to move around on our property and to store some extra when I want to add a little more. For the first coop, I added the sand to 3-4 inches. For the second coop, I used 2 inches. Both work fine. Both are easy to maintain. The girls in the 2 inch sand will forage down to the floor more than those in the deeper sand. To clean, I have a small plastic rake. It takes a couple minutes to rake feathers and droppings to a pile and rake them onto a modified pitch fork with quarter inch wire mesh applied. I sift out some of the loose sand and discard the droppings and feathers. By sifting the sand, I can still compost the droppings and feathers. Every single day, the coops are drooping free after a couple minutes of raking each one.

    Good luck with whatever you choose.
    leighks, rbnk1 and bork3011 like this.
  8. jennyf

    jennyf Songster

    Apr 24, 2016
    I have sand in the coop and small attached run, and dirt/grass that will be building its way up to deep litter over time. The sand (mixed with sweet pdz) really works well for us in the coop. In the morning I scoop under the roosting bars, and I try to scoop sand in the small run at least once per day. I'm intrigued by deep litter but we have close neighbors and I'm worried about the stink if I do it wrong! But we love sand! I used the quickcrete brand of construction sand. I would say if you're not into scooping frequently, sand might not be the way to go.
    rbnk1 likes this.
  9. wigglesme

    wigglesme In the Brooder

    Jul 22, 2014
    Northern New Jersey
    I like the way you designed your run, it sounds like it's good for both you and the birds. I am trying to do something similar and would be curious to see any pictures if you have. I don't have anything on the floor in my run now and so the droppings are all caked up and hard to dispose of, plus it is smelly and I want my girls to have a nicer enclosure for the times they don't have access to my yard. The run is about 18 feet long by 6 feet wide so I think filling it with sand alone would be quite expensive but this is all new to me so I honestly have no idea what I'm up against (rather what my husband is up against lol). Thanks so much.
  10. Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    I use sand in my coop. I live in the PNW so deep litter is not an option as nothing dries out here. I scoop every day or two and put it in a pile out front to decompose farther. I'm afraid if I pile it out back the dogs will have a never ending buffet! [​IMG]

    It does get a little dusty sometimes. I haven't yet been able to find Sweet PDZ. I provide a separate compost scratching area. I NEVER use DE and have no problem with ANY bugs... fleas, mites, flies, etc. I also use droppings boards and love them!

    Washed river sand is the best (type of sand) according to my research. I had mine delivered on a dump truck. But I understand that is not an option for everyone.

    Ultimately, it depends on your area and your lifestyle. What works for one person in one area may be completely dis-functional at another location. Sometimes it takes trial and error. I hate when good ideas become bad realities!

    Best wishes!
    rbnk1 likes this.

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