using sand in hot climates and in coop


In the Brooder
8 Years
May 22, 2011
Hi All!
I was inspired to put sand in my run by someone who posted of its ease and pleasantness. I have developed an odd obsession with sitting in the run and sifting chicken poop. It's like this fantastic excuse to play in the sand and watch the girls on the other side of the fence (who are surely glad to see their maid service has arrived). Totally unnecessary but so very zen. Anyhow, I have two questions and I'm hoping for some thoughts:

1) I live in Austin, Texas. We have VERY hot summers. I'm talking triple digit every single day. Will the sand be way too hot in a few months? Did I make a big mistake?

2) I am finding the pine shavings inside the coop rather disgusting in comparison to the lovely sand in the run area. I would like to put sand inside the coop as well. My question: In the colder weather, is that practical? Don't the pine shavings serve to keep them warm? I was thinking I could leave pine shavings in the nesting box only, but I don't want them to be cold. Then again, it doesn't get THAT cold here. A cold snap may bring us down to 20. Thoughts?

Thanks as always for your collective wisdom, generous sharing of information, and chicken camaraderie.

There are numerous post that deal with this in one way or another. I've found not to worry about the chickens being cold. People keep young chicks too hot in my way of thinking. My 2 and 1/2 week old stayed most of the day out in the run with mama. No light, socks, neck scarf, nothing to keep um warm. They loved it and stayed out till almost dark. No sand in the run but I do have it in the coop. I've not seen the sand to be the cold weather problem some others have spoken about. It's worked great for me.
Thanks so much! Now my big concern is the heat of the summer (which is fairly extreme here) and whether the sand will get too hot. Perhaps with a tarp over the top of the run, there will be adequate shade to keep the area cool enough for sand. I don't feel like I can go back to the shavings now!
As I have to contain my gals to a coop and run area, I went with sand in the pen and the wood chips in the coop on the slide out tray. I did place my coop/run in a shaded area plus have a roof extending over the pen. I am in NC and it gets blistering hot here to in the summer and had decided on the Rhode Island Reds as my choice of hens. It will be a year in March with the gals and so far so good. You can see a pic of the coop a little further down on the thread ...titled....Coop update after 10 months. The folks on the forum here were such a big help for me as I was totally green when I started.
Your coop is BEAUTIFUL!!!!! I had originally had a tractor and we were quite safe for some time. A coyote came in October and got in, killing all three of my precious babies. I was heartbroken beyond what the average non-chicken person would understand
. I had very limited money and someone gave me a coop made from repurposed kitchen cabinets. It was so funky, I loved it. I ended up cutting some extra windows in it and painting it funky colors and now it looks like a piece of folk art. I will try to figure out how to post pix like you did. I called it the "Extreme Coop Makeover". I then added a dog run around it with hardware cloth reinforcement and I am very happy with it in terms of aesthetics and safety. I don't think you would call it "beautiful", but it is fantastic!
Thanks, Curtis! Nice setup you have! My run is actually not enclosed. I'm thinking that during the peak hot months, I could cover the top (chain link) with a tarp. Do you suppose that would be adequate to keep the sand at a reasonable temperature? Something I don't know is, are chicken feet sensitive to temperature?
I do have an area under my coop that is a 4X8 area with sand about 4 inches deep. This past summer when it was so hot they all went under there to cool off. The sand stayed cool that I could tell and it worked for them. If it works for them, yahoo, it's works for me.
We're up in Dallas and get mostly the same awful summers, too. This will be our third summer with chickens, and we have a coop with sand in it as well as sand in the run. It works fine! And I know what you mean about the zen of poop sifting. Before we let our hens go broody the spring before last, I sifted all of the sand in the runs with a colander. I was glad the neighbors couldn't see me doing that! For daily clean ups, I have a reptile litter scoop taped to a long handle so I don't have to bend down.

You will want to have your run shaded for the summer, no matter what the substrate. Otherwise, it will be get too hot for chickens. Our run is in the shadiest part of our yard, covered, and our bantams are heat tolerant, and I had to also run a mister for them last summer.

Most breeds of standard chickens will have a much harder time with our summers than our winters. With our winters, sand in the coop works perfectly well.
Thanks so much Elmo and everyone else. I will confess to sitting in the run area for extended periods of time, meditatively sifting poop with a colander as if I'm gently making Jiffy Pop. If only the rest of life could be so peaceful! My conclusions based on everyone's excellent information:

1) Put a tarp over the top of the run once the heat begins. It should pose no problem at all for our "winters". (I'm originally from Cleveland, OH, thus the quotations.)
2) Sand inside coop will be fine.
3) I'm not alone in my dirty little secret of Zen Poop Gardening.

Here's to all of you, my virtual chicken mentors!

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