When we first got chickens, over 6 years ago now, we began by using straw in their coop. They loved to kick it around and pick out any seeds. Â But I quickly learned that it got wet and soggy with their droppings. Â Once it was wet and soggy, it was also super stinky and much heavier, making it much more effort to clean out the coop (which happened every month or two). Â So,I moved on to pine shavings. Â I tried using the deep litter method, piling the shavings up over their poop and letting it compost. Â Then, I only needed to clean the coop 2 or 3 times a year. Â The pine shavings absorbed the moisture and smell of their droppings much better, but it was stil a stinky, time consuming mess to clean. Â (And I always ended up feeling pretty rough (respiratory) afterwards). Â I thought, “there has to be another way.”
When I saw this post on sand in the chicken coop, I thought I might have found my answer. Â I cleaned the pine shavings out of the coop, sprayed the roosts and corners with a dilute Neem oil spray (to kill any mites or pests), and replaced the pine shavings with sand! Â I got a truck load of river sand for $24 and used about 1/4 of it for my 108 square foot coop. Â This much sand will probably last me 2+ years! Â (so far, much cheaper than pine or straw!)
When I got up in the morning, all of the poop was piled on top of the sand and was easily removed with a scoop (I used a kitty litter scoop, but plan on making something a little bigger, with a longer handle, for ease of getting under the roosts). Â The poop goes into a bucket that is then dumped into the compost pile. Â I rake out the sand and it’s as good as new! Â No smell, no mess, and very easy clean up! Â Plus, the sand scrubs the chicken’s feet nice and clean, instead of sticking to them in a stinky clump. Â This is even more importantÂ when you have feather footed ladies, like my Silkies and Marans.
Zinnea was happy to inspect her new digs. Â So happy, in fact, that she decided not to lay in her laying boxes, but waited until night time and plopped the egg down on the sand! 🙂