Do you want to floor your chicken coop and need ideas that might inspire you picking the best bedding for chicken coop right away? Look no more! Today marks the end of your search!
To help you with your search, we created this list of the pros and setbacks of the different types of chicken coop flooring!
One big factor when it comes to selection of the best floor for chicken coop is whether you will use the deep litter method or not.
Deep Litter Method or Not?
When the carbon of a chicken coop bedding material and the nitrogen contained in the poultry manure balance properly, you can use a deep litter method to compost the bedding right in the coop.
Composting and deep litter keeps your backyard chicken coop smelling just as fresh as a more consistently cleaned coop, adds warmth from the composting process to the coop in the winter, and creates a healthy balance between “bad gems” and “good germs”, and provides the chickens interesting materials to peck at. It also offers a great supplement to your compost and garden pile!
The Best Bedding for Chicken Coop
DooKashi Coop Odor Eliminator
The first on our list of best flooring for chicken coop is the Dookashi Coop Odor ELIMINATOR.
This rids your chicken coop of ammonia odors! So, you chickens are healthy, safe and free from sickness.
But, it is important to get the correct floor materials to have the deep litter method perform great.
How do you know it’s working excellently?
The simplest way to measure whether your chicken coop bedding is performing as it should is the “sniff test”. If you can smell even a tiny whiff of ammonia, you need more carbon in the litter. Ammonia will cause respiratory problems in chickens.
If your coop floor is made of wood, you may need to add a bit of moisture to wood shavings to get good compost going initially. A dirt floor is a great for composting chicken bedding right in the coop.
To repel unwanted critters, you can try mixing a bit of diatomaceous earth with these chicken bedding options, but be cautious and apply sense when mixing as too much can irritate your lungs and your bird’s lungs and can potentially lead to respiratory issues if flung around without caution.
There is a reason wood shavings are said to be one of the best bedding chicken coop. You only need pine wood shavings, and not cedar shavings (as cedar scent and oils have shown to be toxic to chickens). Go for large flake wood shavings, over fine shavings (too dusty) and fight off the temptation of using sawdust (way too damp and dusty).
We recommend using wood shavings from the feed store or from Tractor Supply Co which are sold in compressed cube. The high carbon content of wood shavings balances out the high nitrogen in the manure of chickens. Shavings are also simple to clean up with a shovel and easy to loosen and fluff with a pitchfork.
For one, wood shavings can potentially give your birds wood splinters on some occasions. Second, if you have a large coop, the cost (around $5 for a compressed bale) may not be to your liking. Lastly, wood shavings are pretty dusty and can potentially lead to respiratory issues in you or your birds. The dust factor is why we avoid rating wood shavings to be the best bedding for chickens.
Straw is na excellent flooring material for your henhouse and our pick for the best bedding for chicken coop. It has the advantages of a compostable bedding (residential warmth, healthy germ balancing, and interesting for chickens to pick through), adds comfortability, and provides an amazing environment.
When it comes to cleaning, wood shavings are easier to clean than straw, and it can be costly to purchase. Personally speaking, we buy ours at the feed store or the hardware store in our area. When wet, straw could potentially house aspergillosis, which is not healthy for your birds or you either.
This can be prevented by keeping straw dry and using only high quality good straw. Aside being the best flooring for chicken coop, Straw is also excellent in nest boxes.
Shredded paper is the 4th material in our review of the best floor for chicken coop.
Shredded paper does not cost much, has a high carbon level so it fosters both compost and beneficial bacteria activity in combination with chicken manure.
At some time, inks were toxic, specifically colored inks which may have contained heavy metals or lead. A large number of inks are soy-based and lack toxic now, but just to be safe, chicken owners should avoid shredding colored paper and definitely steer clear of shredding and using store receipts printed on thermal paper, which contains BPA.
Hay or Grass Clippings
Grass clippings or hay are NOT an ideal chicken bedding. The primary reason being that these two are high in nitrogen, so they cannot provide a good nitrogen/carbon mix in the coop that promotes beneficial bacteria and composting. An excess of nitrogen can already be found in the chicken manure. Add in damp grass clippings or hay with even more nitrogen and you get a stinky coop. Some Chicken owners have had success with dry grass clippings. If you are one of those people, we’d like to hear from you and learn more.
Sand as coop bedding for chickens seem to have a huge fan base. We hear it’s simple with a litter scoop, and looks great, and provides dust bath opportunities anywhere in the coop. But, despite the good reviews, sand is really not the best chicken coop bedding. It has same deadly setbacks.
One drawback is that sand does not and will never compost. A healthy bedding will provide a nitrogen/carbon balance and host beneficial bacteria along with your chicken manure. Because it doesn’t compost, sand promotes salmonella and coli type germs outnumbering good bacteria.
Additionally, the lack of compositing ability means no residential warmth during the winter. Another disadvantage is that sand is a much tougher surface and has far less cushioning than other bedding types.
The 3rd cons is that your chooks are likely to root around and eat poop that has been buried in sand, which isn’t healthy and can cause illness and crop impaction. And lastly, sand can quickly become dusty and does not mix well with good respiratory health for you and your chickens.
Pine Straw or Pine Needles
Dry pine straw or pine needles are another good source of bedding for the chicken coop. They provide many of the same benefits as straw but at less expense if you have a source on your property. In some arts of our country, straw is also sold in bales.
Pine needles may cause a more acidic compost, but that’s great if you lobe to grow acid-loving pants like azaleas and blueberries.
Certainly not the best chicken coop bedding, but they are almost free and work great!
Dried leaves can be an cheap chicken coop bedding. Our favorite is dried oak leaves, which don’t mat together. Leaves are cheap, economical and widely available each fall.
You simply cannot purchase dried leaves off the shelf, and you need to be sure they are dry leaves before adding them in your coop to avoid a stinky matted mess.
Wood chips are another chicken coop bedding potentially high in carbon. Any person with a woodpile who splits and chops their own wood has a supply of wood chips and can use them in his/her coop. You can also purchase wood chips at most home centers or garden or have it delivered by the cubic yard like mulch.
Wood chips (which are mostly chunky) will not have as large surface area as large flake wood shavings or paper or straw options, so there may be smaller number of oxygen levels and good germ mix to aid in composting.
Plus, watch for potential splinters that might result in your chicken getting bumblefoot. But, we have used chips from our our woodpile in our coop without any problems.
Batten & Wire
In a chicken coop, I owned earlier, the floor was constructed of removable chicken wire sections and batten that could be lifted with ease to clean the accumulated poop underneath, My friend and I talked about going back to that option, but it did come with its own disadvantages.
Although the evenly spaced narrow strips of wood (battens) made the floor comfortable for poultry feet and strong enough for humans to walk on, they accumulated some droppings that had to be periodically scraped off. In the spaces between the battens, chicken wire allowed some droppings to fall through, while keeping chickens from walking and pecking in them.
But, when pour hens hatched their chicks, we found ourselves frequently retrieving the babies from the droppings pit below. Hardware cloth would keep the chicks from falling through, but big chicken poops tend to accumulate on top of hardware cloth. My friend vetoed that idea, and I seconded the motion.
Lastly, we got the smart idea to level the floor once again – this time using fine gravel our local quarry calls “screenings” to create a solid base – and cover it with heavy rubber mats, of the sort used in horse stalls.
If we were concerned about predators or rodents burrowing up under the mats, we would have laid hardware cloth on top of the gravel and fastened it to the walls before laying down the mats. Some of the mats had to be cut to make a good tight fit, which was easy thanks to a sharp utility knife.
We are super pleased with stall mats as a coop flooring option. Shavings on the top of the mats don’t absorb moisture as readily as shavings over dirt, so they do not need to be replaces as often as possible. So, in the long run, the cost of the mats offset by the savings on shavings. Soiled shavings, mostly beneath the perches, are easy to scoop off the mats with a coal shovel or a snow shovel.
The chickens still enjoy dust bathing in the shavings on top. However, they can no longer dig holes in the floor making it much more pleasant for you to walk on.
Key to Success
The secret to success in picking the best bedding for chicken coop is to get fluffy carbon-rich flooring that ideally can compost right in the coop with chicken manure. Straw is our most voted for and also our pick for the best chicken coop bedding, but in practice, we use large flake wood shavings most of the time due to the cost of straw in our area and for ease of cleaning.
What’s your favorite flooring for chickens? Let us know in the comments below!