Straw, all purpose sand or shavings


Jun 2, 2020
Hi All, I am beginning to set up our chicken run and coop. Just looking for opinions on what is the best thing to cover our chicken run floor with. It is a covered run that is placed on dirt. We live in California, so not much rainfall here. I really don't care much about cost or maintenance as much as what will be the healthiest for our girls...thanks ahead of time!
I think the best for the chickens is a deep litter system, as it gives them stuff to dig through and keeps the soil in good condition. I don't know what type of plants and stuff you have in California, and whether it's doable. The next best would be sand in my opinion.
Thanks! In the run and surrounding it there are no plants they can reach. Luckily it is set up under the shade of an oak tree which provides good shade. Do you think pine shavings or straw is better for the deep litter method? For the coop itself I am planning on using pine shavings (hemp shavings if I can find them here) and straw for the nest boxes.
My deep litter consists of lawn clippings, fall leaves, pulled weeds from the garden, old hay, some shavings, and whatever scraps are thrown to them. Everything needs to be added in moderation, except the leaves so they get incorporated and don't mold. So you can do some of each. Deep litter is a long term process. I'd start with a bit of shavings, and add stuff over the season. It's been years since we started ours. I believe it began with a load of mulch.
I never thought to add those other things ..thanks! Do you clean up the poo daily and add a light layer or just the light layer? I'm a new chicken Mom and want to make sure to get as much info as possible to make sure our girls are happy and healthy 😀🐓
We never clean it. The run is around 7 feet by 20 and has around 15-25 bantams.

During summer we toss grass clippings in, and buckets of pulled weeds. Some shavings get kicked out of the coop throughout the year. In the fall we put a bunch of loads of chopped leaves into in.

We use hay bales during winter as wind breaks, those get incorporated in spring and summer.

The dirt, after about a decade is light, and rich. My bantams can easily dig in it. We have a few rocks and boards that are turned occasionally for a bug feast.

Sometimes we also add spent mulch, or sand, and small diameter road base gravel for grit. It really is a hodge podge of ingredients.

If we wanted to we could clean some out and add it to our garden beds as fertilizer.
Do you think pine shavings or straw is better for the deep litter method?

Deep litter is a form of cold composting and, like any compost, works best with a mix of materials of different sizes and textures. Wood chips, shavings, pine straw, straw, fall leaves, and whatever other compost browns come to hand.
Since you mentioned it being roofed and that there's not much rain, sand is also an option as it works well if it can be kept dry. You'd just scoop out poop as if it were a cat litter box.

I use deep litter myself but I get lots of rain and I have no roof either. If you choose to go with deep litter, you can probably use either straw or shavings as a base, as drainage shouldn't be a main priority.
OMGOODNESS! Thank you so much for all the info. I had heard and seen quite a bit about the deep litter method and thought it might be too good to be true. We are avid gardeners so this is a WIN WIN.. chooks and flowers..what more could a girl ask for?😀

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