1. MassChick

    MassChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2016
    Hi, who is using sand in the coop and run? I like the idea of it in the run for the benefit of not having mud. Does it still encourage stratching? In the coop my concerns are the lack of warmth in the winter. Without straw in New England I'm not sure how they'd do.
  2. silkiecuddles

    silkiecuddles FortheLoveofSilkies

    Mar 1, 2015
    Yes, sand is great for runs! And yes, they'll definitely still scratch. Throw a little scratch in a particular area if you wan them to turn that area up. You can secure hog wire to a rake and scoop out the little poops daily.
    I would still use straw in the coop for warmth, though.
  3. MassChick

    MassChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2016
    Great! I'm definitely thinking of going this route.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!
    Thank you, thank you, for adding your location.<bows>

    I would not recommend sand, for coop or run, in MA.

    Sand works well long term in very few situations, mostly arid climates, and only if you want to scoop poops every day. Even with scooping frequently the sand eventually becomes saturated with pulverized poops and if(when) that gets wet PEEEEuuuu stinky!! Then what do you do with it? I learned this from using sand in the brooder, small quantity needed in a brooder allowed me to use nasty old sand to fill holes in yard from an auto accident.

    I recommend a mix of dry plant matter for the run, it will 'eat' the poops up and never need much maintenance.

    I do use sand, mixed with zeolite(PDZ), on my roost boards that I sift every other day.....that's about the only place works well IMO. https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...raphic-gross-poop-pictures/1100#post_13179595

    Dry pine shavings on floor in coop, totally changed out once a year(added to run materials), works well for me.

    Here's a great description of contents and how to manage organic 'bedding' in a run or coop...and there's a great video of what it looks like.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Wet is your enemy, coop or run, no matter what bedding you use. Wet poop stinks after a couple of days. Whether you use dirt, sand, straw, hay, wood shavings, wood chips, Spanish moss, dried leaves, or something else the chickens are going to poop on it. It will build up to the point that if it is wet it will stink. To me the best bedding is what you have on hand and isn’t too expensive. In the right conditions they will all work. In the wrong conditions you can have problems with any of them.

    The purpose of whatever bedding you use is to act like a diaper, absorb the moisture from the poop so it dries out. If it is wet it cannot dry out the poop. If your run is in a low spot that collects and holds water, you are going to have problems. If it stays dry or dries out pretty well you have a lot fewer problems.

    I never have to clean out my coop bedding. I do once every three or four years, not because I have to but because I want that stuff on my garden. I use droppings boards to collect the majority of the poop from under the roosts and use that in my compost. I keep my coop really dry. My climate is such that my chickens spend most of every day outside instead of in the coop so they are not dropping a lot of poop in there. My chicken density is fairly low, I don’t over-crowd my coop. I use wood shavings because that is the least expensive thing I’ve found. There weren’t any trees here when I first moved here but I’ve planted several. Hopefully in another year or two I’ll have enough dead leaves to use some of them at least part of the time.

    Some people clean the bedding out of their coop weekly, some less often. Very few go as long as I do. Frequency depends on a lot of variables, a lot on how dry you keep it.

    If your run is high compared to the surrounding area so water drains from it, you may be in great shape, but it is really hard to keep a run of any size really dry when the weather sets in wet. My 12’ x 32’ main run is on a slight rise and I put a swale on the upslope side to divert rainwater run-off. It’s dirt and it drains pretty well, but when the weather sets in wet it becomes a muddy mess. It doesn’t stink though, I have a large grassy area inside electric netting where they spend most of most days and spread the poop out. It’s not concentrated. The chickens do not spend any appreciable time in that muddy run so I can live with it. I never clean my run.

    If your run is a low spot where it acts like a swimming pool and holds water, you can put all the sand you want and the water will stay there. You can put all the organic bedding material you want and the water will stay there. The poop will build up and it will stink. You don’t want your chickens spending their life in wet, it can damage their feet, so having something up high enough to keep them out of wet is a real good thing, but you may be cleaning any bedding you put in your run out on a regular basis.

    When I built my coop, which is on the ground, I hauled in some clay dirt and raised the floor level a few inches to help keep water out. If your run is in low spot you might want to consider doing something like that. Build it up so the water can drain out before you start adding bedding.

    Some people use their coop or run to make compost, that’s sometimes called the deep litter method. I can’t do that in my coop because I keep it too dry. To make compost the litter needs to be slightly damp. If it’s too dry the bugs that eat it and turn it into compost can’t live. If it gets too wet it will stink, but so will a regular compost heap, whether there is chicken poop in it or not. Any organic matter will stink after a while if it gets too wet, chicken poop is so high in nitrogen content it doesn’t take long for it to get to that point.

    Your issue is going to be water much more than what bedding you use. You may have to change it out regularly, you may not. Your nose will tell you that. My suggestion is first to look at any drainage issues and address that. Then try to find something available and relatively inexpensive in case you do have to change it out regularly. And look at how much hard physical work it would take to change it out.
  6. ducks4you

    ducks4you Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 20, 2009
    East Central Illinois
    I'm glad that somebody talked about sand NOT being a good thing for the run. I thought it might not be suitable, especially in my swamp climate (central IL)!
    I love it when mowing season starts bc I bag my grass and add clippings to my run. It makes Great compost when I clean the coop, and I use the same big shovel to clean as I use to clean my horse's stalls. There is a great satisfaction after you have cleaned it.
    If you don't mind spending the money, adding straw is nice, too, for your birds run.
    I can't use the deep littler method in my coop bc it has a floor off of the ground. I do use Equine Fresh (dried, extruded pine pellets) to absorb liquid and odors, and then pine shavings on top of that. I figure that if it smells nice when I open the door, it's ok for their lungs, too.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Exactly, that's the key.
  8. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2013
    Northwest Hills of CT
    I live in New England, and use sand in my run and hay in the coop. As others have said, water is the enemy. I started with an open pen, and after the grass was gone, I ended up with a mud pit the first winter. So I put a roof over the 15x15 run and brought in 6 inches of sand. It works extremely well for a while, and then as others have said starts to clog up with poop. If you rake it regularly, that will help. Over time the sand will become hard. So twice a year I take a flat shovel and scrape off the top inch or two, removing all the poopy sand and revealing a new layer of fresh sand. The scraped off layer goes into the garden, and makes wonderful soil for vegetables. After removing 3-4 inches of sand over a year, I bring in another yard of sand. Overall I've been very happy with the sand. Much better than mud!

    The hay in the coop turns to rich compost dirt in 3-4 months. I have a concrete floor, and put in a nice layer of hay to start, and then add a flake or two every Saturday. Each morning I through in 2 cups of scratch into the hay, and the chickens spend their time turning the hay and in the process help compost everything. Every six months I shovel out the coop. Underneath the top 2 inches of hay will be 3-4 inches of black dirt. I put that on the garden too.

    I built drainage basins for my waterers in the run so if and when they leak the water drains into the basin and then through piping outside of the run and does not soak into the sand. I've since removed the stones from the basin and place 2 12"x12" pavers in each one to support the waterers.




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