Sand vs. Hay/straw?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by srfjeld, May 15, 2011.

  1. srfjeld

    srfjeld Chirping

    May 13, 2011

    I'm fairly new here and have been looking over the boards a lot. I see where a lot of people use sand instead of hay in their runs. I'm wondering if people could weigh in on the pros/cons and preferences of each. We're in the process of building our coop and we want to do what's best...
    One thing to note is that we are interested in composting their poo if that makes a difference.

    Thank you,


  2. zeus

    zeus In the Brooder

    Jun 12, 2010
    norfolk county
    their runs...outside??...we have dirt/grass outside...mostly dirt now,which they have torn up the grass-and now have holes in the yard for their dirt baths/places to keep cool..we have about 3 good size holes now.we also have sand-under our coop where its cool,and they seem to go under there to cool off also.we also have ash from our fireplace,and we have that outside in an area for their dust baths also....good luck!I don't know about which is best...we kind of did what we thought was best.hopefully someone else will chime in here.
  3. bawk_bawk

    bawk_bawk In the Brooder

    Jul 18, 2010
    When you're composting, it's best to use the straw because it decomposes along with the poo while sand works like kitty litter.
  4. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    I see you are in Portland, lots of rain. Is your run covered? If not the hay/straw will become a soggy, smelly mess very quickly in wet weather. Not to mention heavy and a real pain to clean out. Been there, done that. I would go with sand unless the run is covered. It's much easier to just rake the poop out. You could still compost what comes out of the coop.

    edited to add: I guess I'm just assuming your in Portland Oregon, thought I saw OR on your post.
    Last edited: May 15, 2011
  5. srfjeld

    srfjeld Chirping

    May 13, 2011
    Thank you... yes, I am in Portland, Oregon and it's definitely living up to its reputation of being a rainy state this year. We are planning on covering the run, but I would imagine rain can still get in from the sides. Sand is sounding better and better b/c we don't want the smell either. How often do you change/add to (?) your sand? What exactly is the process there?
  6. Pollo Posada

    Pollo Posada In the Brooder

    Mar 25, 2009
    Mount Airy, MD
    I used straw in the spring. HUGE mistake. It got smelly, soggy, and never dried out. Then my chickens started wheezing!!! I removed all the hay (which was a disgusting hard job) and the wheezing stopped. I think it started to actually mold with all the rain and no sun. Stick to dirt (which does also cause a muddy mess) or sand/pebbles.
  7. Junkmanme

    Junkmanme Songster

    I'm in the "High Altitude Desert". My run is dirt (no grass left there by chickens) which occasionally gets muddy (not often in this "dry" climate...except in Winter).

    For Portland, Oregon....and such "rainy places", I would think that about 6 inches of pea-gravel covered with about 6 inches of sand would work well enough if you make a drainage-channel for the water to run-off. IF you plan to cover a part of your run....then perhaps you could leave a portion of the covered part in just dirt....for "dirt-baths" and such pleasantries.

    my speculation. [​IMG] [​IMG]
    -Junkmanme- [​IMG]

  8. carladababe

    carladababe Songster

    Nov 25, 2010
    Dixon, Missouri
    My chicken's coop/run sits on a cement pad, and I have sand in the run, we've had lots of rain lately and it drains fairly quickly. My chickens seem ok with it.[​IMG]

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