Chickenfilter: What bedding for run?
May 10, 2016 5:48 AM   Subscribe

Everyone on the internet seems to have Very Strong Opinions about the best material for the floor of a chicken coop and run. (In the coop I use pine shavings, so I've got that covered.) My priority is ease of keeping it clean. I don't want to be that lady on the block with the smelly chickens. And obviously something that is healthy for my girls.

I have three spoiled, happy backyard hens (legal in my city) for whom I've recently built a 6'x8' (x6' so I can stand up in it comfortably) run. The run is welded wire on all sides with a single pitched roof of corrugated vinyl. Their previous home for the winter was my large raised bed garden and before that a tractor that we moved around the yard. Their new run is very much stationary and right now they are busily killing all the grass. What do I put down once all the grass is dead and gone?

Climactic and geological concerns: Four distinct seasons of a typical northeastern U.S. sort, and reasonably well draining soil.
posted by soren_lorensen to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Use straw. It's cheap and usually readily available and keeps it reasonably dry. You'll have to replace it regularly, just rake it out, and you can also compost it. I've heard that you shouldn't entirely replace it, because there's healthy/necessary bacteria to the chicken that should be left, but that could relate only to the coop.
posted by serenity_now at 5:56 AM on May 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

+1 straw.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:08 AM on May 10, 2016

I'm a sand girl. I love it. Straw was too messy for my yard and I ran out of compost space.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:23 AM on May 10, 2016

I used straw and didn't like how slimy and wet it got in the winter. Despite constantly fluffing it with a pitchfork it got pretty nasty when there would be a cold spell and the girls were stuck inside. I've used pine shavings as well and like it better than straw 100%. However, I switched to sand and love, love, love it. Make sure you have a scraping board under your roost, making yourself a big version of a cat litter box sifter, and you can clean out that poop quite easily without the backbreaking cleaning and wheelbarrowing of your straw or pine shavings to the compost pile. You can then directly add just the poop to the compost.
posted by OkTwigs at 6:40 AM on May 10, 2016

Over part of the ground, put a frame of 2x4s on edge. Over the top of that frame, stretch and staple chicken wire (or 1/2" hardware cloth if you want to go the expensive, long-lasting route). The grass and weeds will grow up through the wire all summer long, providing fresh greens for the chooks.
posted by bricoleur at 7:18 AM on May 10, 2016

We had a chicken who became a neurotic straw-eater (resulting in a tangle of straw in her crop, an infection, and chicken surgery). But she was the only one of six. If I didn't have a straw-eater, I'd go with straw.

As it was, we used bark mulch, which I didn't love.
posted by purpleclover at 10:45 AM on May 10, 2016

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