The purpose of chicken bedding for coops is to provide a soft material for nesting boxes and an absorbent covering on the floor of the coop. However, not all materials are equal when it comes to bedding for chicken coops. Here’s what we know about bedding materials.
The very best material to use:
Pine wood shavings
Aspen shavings or coarse sawdust
Pine shavings or pine sawmill shavings (coarse sawdust) make the best bedding material for chicken coops. They absorb moisture as well as odors, and provide a soft cushion for eggs in the nesting boxes. Spread the pine shavings about 2 inches thick on the floor and 3-4 inches deep in the nesting boxes.
Tip: sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth in with the wood shavings to discourage insect infestations.
While straw and hay will not harm your chickens, they are not the most recommended material to use because straw does not absorb water and contributes to a moist environment.
In an open area, such as the chicken housing pictured here, there is enough air circulation to keep the straw dry and in works well in those cases. Again, using diatomaceous earth sprinkled in the straw will help prevent insects.
Cedar shavings contain an oil that irritates chicken’s airways. While you may not notice any problems at first, the irritation can cause damage and make them prone to respiratory issues later on. It’s best to avoid cedar in your chicken coop for this reason.
Newspaper, which quickly becomes wet and covered in droppings, harbors mold and mildew. It can also be a slick surface, harmful for young chicks and disconcerting for older hens. Paper towels are a no based on the expense and wastefulness.
So, find a good source for free or cheap pine shavings or sawdust and you’ll be all set with the best bedding for chicken coops.