The infamous decision… when it comes to chickens and their coops. Which of the three is the best for the hens to lay their eggs on, or simply have in their home. I personally have tried all three and I am here to tell you that (in my opinion, of course) all three have their drawbacks and their praises… Lets dig a little deeper into each.
Hay seems to be what my hens like the best. Its messy.. and attracts insects… but then again, don’t most chickens? It is much harder to clean than the other two. In the winter time, I find that hay keeps the chickens warmer, more so than either of the others. Rosy actually really likes hay in her coop– fresh hay is her favorite. One thing that is the biggest annoyance when using hay is it attracts mites.. and fleas..and ROACHES. Yes, ROACHES. Anyone who knows me, knows I CANNOT STAND roaches. Nope, no way, no how. So with that, it makes cleaning out the coop more annoying for me because I can almost bet Ill find a roach at the bottom of the bed.
I used wood chips a year ago when I started into this venture. I found that wood chips are MUCH easier to clean. I also found that wood chips can cause various problems, especially in baby chicks. Remember when I said that all four of us went to pick out our chicks at the farm? Well they died… because they got sick. Now I do not believe that it was solely because of the wood chips. One got infected with the bird pox.. yes birds get pox. and then one infected the other.. and so on. The problem was worsened by the wood chips that we were using– yes there are different kinds! I have not done a ton of research on this because after that we went to strictly using hay… and we decided to purchase laying hens instead of pullets. I am inclined to switch back over to wood chips now that our hens are older.. I’ll let you know how that goes!
Ahh sand. Who doesn’t love a little sand? Well I don’t. I am not a fan– more so because when it gets wet, it gets sticky. But chickens.. chickens LOVE sand. First of all, sand is super easy to clean. Actually, it is probably THE EASIEST to clean in a coop. All you need is a scooper to scoop out the poop. Easy Breezy. The girls love a good dirt bath. I have not used sand in the boxes/tray of their coop. However, the girls outside part of their coop was originally put on sand and dirt and boy oh boy were they happy. All the way until summer became too hot and they weren’t getting the breeze they needed… I recommend trying sand from Day 1. Also, it doesn’t get very smelly either! WIN WIN.
And there you have it- my short and sweet, to the point, beginner post about what is best for your chickens. When in doubt, try all three!!