Do you walk out into your coop and find chicken poop sticks to your shoes?
Are you tired of walking near the coop only to have a terrible smell?
Well, if you answered yes to either of these, then it might mean that you need to invest in some chicken bedding.
Now, chicken bedding will not prevent your coop from getting dirty. But it can help to keep the coop a little cleaner between cleanings.
So if you’ve ever wondered what your options were for chicken bedding, then you need to keep on reading because I’m bringing you some of the easiest and cost-effective chicken bedding options available.
Chicken Bedding, What You Need to Know
Let’s get started talking about chicken bedding:
Why Do I Need Chicken Bedding?
You may be wondering why you even need chicken bedding in the first place or what it is exactly? Chicken bedding is something that you place in the bottom of the chicken coop and/or nesting boxes that will collect chicken waste and moisture.
So what this means is that your coop will not smell quite as much because there will be something there to collect a lot of the substances that make it stink. Take it from me, when we first moved, I put a linoleum floor in our coop.
Well, I thought I could bypass chicken bedding because I’d just be able to spray the floor out. Yeah, that was an inaccurate thought. My coop stank so much, even with me hosing it out daily.
So I began using chicken bedding again. This made the coop stay cleaner as the waste would be absorbed into the bedding. Then the chickens would scratch it around to break it down and compost it.
In short, it gave my chickens a cleaner living environment. Chicken bedding is a great choice for coop cleanliness and odor control.
How Often Do I Change the Chicken Bedding?
Chicken bedding will give you a cleaner coop. It will not make it maintenance free. You will know when to change your chicken bedding because the coop will develop a strong odor. It will also just become nasty and soiled.
So when you begin seeing this taking place, you’ll want to scoop all of the chicken bedding out of the coop and add fresh.
Or you can use the deep litter method which means that you only clean the coop out a couple of times a year. When the bedding gets soiled, you just add fresh bedding. This causes the old bedding to compost and creates a great compost for your garden when you do clean the coop out.
In short, you’ll know by the smell and look of the bedding that it is time to change it. It is important to keep your coop as clean and sanitary as possible because this can keep your chickens much healthier.
Also, use the time that you change the coop bedding to also wipe the coop down with apple cider vinegar. This is a great natural disinfectant.
Chicken Bedding Options:
1. Pine Needles
I had actually never considered giving my chickens pine needles in their nesting boxings or their coop until we moved to our new house.
Here, my chickens free range a lot more. The front bed in front of the house became one of their favorite areas and that is because it is bedded with pine needles. So if they enjoy scratching around in them outside, why not put them in their coop?
Sand is an inexpensive option for bedding in the coop. A lot of people aren’t a fan because they believe it encourages mites to live in your coop.
However, chicken mites are always a ‘thing’ if you have chickens. Therefore, if you decide to use sand as a chicken bedding option, then you’ll want to make sure that you are treating your birds for mites. You can do this easily by giving them a dusting box filled with diatomaceous earth.
3. Shredded Leaves
Do you have a ton of leaves that fall around your yard throughout certain times of the year? Once you gather them, you may be wondering what you could possibly do with them all.
Well, you could compost them. Or you could shred them and put them in the bottom of your chicken coop. They are great at helping the chicken poop compost down into rich fertilizer. That way when it is time to clean the coop, you can toss it right into your garden to enrich your soil.
4. Cedar Shavings
Cedar shavings are very common. You can place them in the bottom of your coop or other animal pins as well.
So if you are looking for something you can run into your local agriculture store and pick up, then this could be what you’ve been looking for. They help fight odor and can be composted as well. Just be sure to wear a mask when placing them in the coop because the dust can be a little overwhelming at times.
5. Pine Shavings
Pine shavings are similar to cedar shavings. They look like little chips that you often see in the bottom of pet cages.
Again, this is a good choice for chicken bedding because it is easy to find at local agriculture stores. Plus, they help fight odor in the coop as well. They also are great at absorbing moisture too. All of these reasons make it a great choice for chicken bedding.
I love using paper in my chicken coop. Normally, I save my old bills and advertisements. Then I run them through a paper shredder.
Once I have a bag full, I’ll place it on the floor of the coop and nesting boxes too. I’ll be honest, the paper isn’t as great about absorbing moisture and odors as the pine or cedar shavings are. However, it is free and allows me to upcycle an item that otherwise would be tossed. That is why I love this chicken bedding option as much as I do.
Straw is a common chicken bedding option. It is usually less expensive than purchasing hay, and you can use it for bedding for multiple animals.
However, be advised that mites like to hide in this stuff. So you’ll need to be sure to sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the bedding. Also, be sure to give your girls a dusting box as well. This will help them battle a mite infestation.
Hay is something I only use as chicken bedding when I am flat out of options. The reason is that other animals on my homestead can eat this hay.
So I prefer to not waste it by putting it where the chickens are just going to scratch and poop in it. Plus, it will draw mites as well. But if you have plenty of hay to spare, then you could definitely use it in your chicken coop.
Mulch is my favorite option for chicken bedding. The reason is that you should be able to find it for very cheap or free. All you need to do is call a tree service and ask that they drop a load of wood chips at your home.
Then you spread it on the floor of the coop. The chickens will scratch and poop in it. This will compost their waste and make it into a great fertilizer for your garden. You are getting a two for one deal that will benefit you all the way around.
If you have a sawmill or live around one, then you should definitely take advantage of the leftover waste that is hanging around.
So in my area, they’ll deliver it by the truckload. Then you just toss it in the coop. The chickens will scratch around in it, and it does a great job covering the floor of the coop so the moisture and waste can be absorbed.
11. Shredded Cardboard
My husband gets lots of boxes from his work. I hate to see things like this go to waste. So we try to use it as a fire starter, or you can actually shred the boxes and use them in the chicken coop.
Once the boxes are shredded, you just toss them out onto the coop floor and in the nesting boxes until everything in the area is covered. From there, the chickens will scratch and use it to collect waste. When it is soiled, you should be able to toss this out in your garden as well.
12. Grass Clippings
Chickens love grass clippings. When you cut your grass, don’t let it remain on your grass to kill it. Instead, collect it and dump it in the floor of the chicken coop and in the nesting boxes.
From there, your girls will naturally scratch around in it. They will also use it to collect their waste as well. When it is thoroughly soiled, you can collect it as well and toss it in your garden to compost and fertilize your garden. This will enrich your soil naturally as well.
Rocks may sound like an odd use as chicken bedding. I don’t mean using pointy rocks because this can be hard on your chickens’ feet.
But you can choose round pebbles to use in the floor of the coop. This will catch moisture and waste. Then when it needs to be cleaned, you can just spray the rocks with a water hose, and your coop will be good as new.
So you now know what chicken bedding is, its purpose, how often you’ll need to perform coop cleaning maintenance, and you have 13 different chicken bedding options too.
Hopefully, this will help you maintain a cleaner coop and keep your hens happy and productive.
But I’d like to hear from you. What chicken bedding to you use for your hens? Have you found that some beddings work better than others? Which ones?
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