Best Sand for Chicken Coop

Sand floor used in the chicken coop.

Is sand an appropriate bedding material for chicken coops? Sand with a grain size ranging from medium to coarse provides great chicken coop bedding when used in coops that do not have draining issues and do not get damp inside. However, fine-grained recreational sand or beach sand is not suitable for chicken bedding since it may create serious health issues for the poultry.

I have experimented with various bedding materials for my chicken coops, considering hay, Straw, and sand. However, whenever it comes to providing the ideal environment for my poultry, I have discovered that sand much outperforms other bedding.

Here a several why I am a Massive Fan of Sand in Chicken Coop:

  • Natural Bedding for Chickens
  • Non-Flammable
  • Environmentally Friendly
  • Low-Expenses
  • Dries out the feces, fewer pathogens.
  • Cleaner Chicken Feet
  • Remain Dry, do not retain moistures.
  • A perfect source of grit
  • Provides a natural dust bath.
  • Preserve Feeds consumption.
  • Versatile in any weather
  • Facilitates decomposition.
  • Visually appealing
  • Decreases the risk of frostbite.

Which Type of Sand Should You Use?

It should be a mixture of sands of different sizes. Bank-run sand or construction sand are both excellent options. All-Purpose will suffice if that is all that is available. Sand from playgrounds and sandboxes float, and you will be disappointed if you use it. Next, you’ll need to purchase dry sand. If you buy it when it is still wet, it will take some time to dry.

Sands with a medium to coarse grain size and extremely fine-grained gravels are suitable for chicken coops. This kind of sand has been described as river bank sand, mortar sand, and concrete sand by gravel suppliers. Play sand and sandbox sand are deemed unsuitable for coops and runs. It is pulverized quartz with a high dust content – not healthy for your respiratory system or the respiratory system of your chickens.

It is most likely the material that froze solidly in the wintertime and burns the poultry’ feet in the summertime since it has poor insulating qualities. Additionally, this kind of sand, in my perspective, should not be utilized in a nestbox. Several stories have reported young chicks ingesting the sand and suffering the effects of affected crops.

All-purpose sand is deemed acceptable. The ideal kind of sand to utilize is construction, river, or bank flow sand. This material resembles what you might find on a riverbank; it includes various particle size distributions, including tiny pebbles. This product is fantastic for increasing the grit intake of chickens.

Advantages: 

Contains a negligible amount of dust:

There may be considered transient dust, but it will diminish significantly as the sand settles. Unlike other bedding materials, and does not disintegrate and generates tiny dust particles.

  • Contributes to the stability of the chicken coop’s temperature: Sand seems to maintain a somewhat steady temperature, which will aid in maintaining a stable temperature in the coop.
  • Never disintegrates: Sand is almost resistant to decay. However, when damp or dirty, softer beddings (such as hay) rapidly disintegrate. If you are not careful about maintaining the coop, this may result in microbial issues.
  • Sand is not a water-retentive material: It is ideal if you reside in a region that is often wet. As long as there is enough draining beneath the sand, the moisture will soon evaporate.

Disadvantages:

  • Sand is very challenging to set up: Since moving in considerable amounts is taxing on the back and arms, you may have to rent out the job to anyone younger and reasonably strong.
  • The starting investment is substantial: Although this is a one-time expense, depending on your coop’s dimensions and run, it may be costly. Also, bear in mind that you will also be responsible for shipping.
  • Not a sustainable source of energy.

Making river sand takes millions of years, and supplies are depleting. So, if you are worried about the effect on the ecosystem, you should generally avoid using sand.

  • Your coop or run may require resignation: You will need about four inches of sand within the coop, which means you may need to strengthen it.
  • Not compostable: Besides its use in splitting up clay soil, sand is ineffective in the yard. Straw and other biodegradable bedding materials may use as mulch or manure in gardening.

When Not To Use Sand as Bedding?

If any of the following apply and should not use for bedding:

  • You will not be able to maintain your coop dry: As previously stated, several individuals reported that they had sands in their chicken coop that had been wet and then frozen due to the cold temperatures. Hopping on it caused chickens to break their legs. You should refrain from using sand if your coop will be damp within; nevertheless, you should not allow your poultry to dwell in a moist coop environment.
  • There is no floor in your chicken coop: If rainwater is continuously rising from the surface, it is possible that your sand bedding will become damp. Contemplate substituting Straw alternatively and either utilizing the deep litter technique or changing the bedding regularly to keep the bedding fresh. 
  • You don’t want to be the one to sweep out the feces: Given that sand bedding does not disintegrate with the feces, you do not want to place sand in your chicken coop and keep it there undisturbed for an extended period. You could get away with just putting it there for a time, but if you don’t maintain it sanitary in the long run, you’re going to have serious coop sanitation issues. Your sand may ultimately require replacing if you know you will not be willing to sweep out the feces regularly or at least once every several weeks, in which case you should consider purchasing fresh sand.

Best Locations in Chick Coop To Use Sand

Use Sand in the Brooder

Using sand in a brooder is also a good option. So, the chicks are kept warm, and it doesn’t get dragged into the water bowls as readily as it would otherwise happen. Sand also serves as grit for the chicks, allowing you to give them goodies without worrying about them being stuck.

Given the potential for impaction in tiny chicks, it is best to wait two or three days after hatching before introducing sand into the diet. Allowing the chicks enough time to find out what and where food is available will benefit them much. During the first few days, I will often fill the nestbox with sand before the chicks hatch and cover it with paper towels. You will remove the paper towels after it seems that the chicks have worked out what is going on. 

Sand Bedding in the Run

It is possible to utilize sand in the run. If your poultry’ run is coated with sand, they will fare better than they would otherwise. However, leaving the run unprotected will result in the sand being saturated with water, leading it to cluster together and perhaps solidify. In addition, moist sand may frost in the wintertime.

Health Problems with Using Sand For Chicken Coop

The usage of sand in brooders is discouraged owing to the danger of crop impingement. In addition, the possibility that recent excrement would conform to the sand, thus hiding it, and that immature chick could swallow a large amount of dung, making them vulnerable to coccidiosis, is yet another concern. Several experts said that sand was an excellent substrate for concealing and developing E. coli and coccidiosis. In contrast, others claimed that it was an ideal medium for suppressing bugs such as E. coli and coccidiosis – it seems that even the expert divides on this issue.

Although sand indeed desiccates most of the excrement generated, cecal stools will filter down into the lowest levels of the sand pile. Consequently, if you delve deep enough, I’m not sure that it would be significantly more pathogen-free than ordinary hay. Without a doubt, if you have an OCD mentality, anything you select for your surface will be spotlessly clean! Using the wrong kind of sand may result in respiratory problems in both chickens and humans alike. Therefore, if you choose to utilize sand, be sure that it is the proper kind for the job.

Another individual speculated about the likelihood of sand fleas in the area. However, although natural sand fleas are not pests and will not bite humans, sand flies are insects that will attack humans and poultry. Sandflies may be found living amid the sandy ground if the temperature is favorable. If you consider incorporating sand into your chicken coop out of interest, you may want to consider placing it in a part of the coop and keeping the remainder as it now configures. Regardless of what you call it, your poultry will undoubtedly enjoy their new dust bath area.

Check it out and observes how it goes for you and your chickens before deciding on a new kind of better home for your flock of chickens. It is possible that you will like it or that you will detest it.

Maintenance In Chicken Coop

It is also straightforward to maintain. Filter over the sand using a customized stall rake. Connect some 1/4′′ hardware cloth to the frame using zip ties. My chicken coop gets a thorough cleaning once a year, and I replace the sand with fresh. Approximately twice a year, I replenish any eroded sand in the flow by adding pelletized lime or Sweet PDZ.

My big 10’x10′ coop has feces on the floor, so every 1-2 weeks, I scoop it up using a shovel with openings in it, such as this shovel from Amazon. It functions as a giant cat litter scooper because of the holes in it. Not having to go down on my bended knees to scoop the feces has saved me time and effort.

Sand vs. Other Types of Bedding

Pine shavings are the most straightforward bedding material to work with. Straw is the second most popular. But, on the other hand, Straw is vulnerable to release ammonia gas when touched, causing unpleasant smells and eye and nose irritation.

Sand is very challenging to move about compared to straw and pine shavings, primarily since it is so weighty. In one research, the sand bedding was four times as heavy as the wood shaving bedding. However, since you only need to extract and change your sand once every year, this difficulty may not be too bothersome for you.

The Bottom Line

If you consider putting sand in your chicken coop, the ideal time to do it is unquestionable when constructing the coop and running itself. Although it is possible to modify an original enclosure, doing so takes a significant amount of thinking, preparation, and labor. Just keep in mind that sand in a brooder is a no-no because chicks will ingest the sand and get affected, which will end up dying.

Sand should only be used with pullets or older poultry, not with younger ones.

If you want your coop to have a minimal effect on the environment, you’ll have to think over whether or not the usage of scarce resources such as river sand is appropriate in your situation. The final piece is that there are many different kinds of bedding accessible, and you must select the one you believe will be most appropriate for your needs.

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