The Complete Guide to Using Sand for The Chicken Coop

There are lots of different types of materials used for bedding in your chicken coop, and that’s no secret. But today, we’re gonna talk about one that might not have crossed your mind – sand!

Before we get this show on the road, let me tell you, this isn’t just any old guide. I want to make sure you get the lowdown on everything you need to know about using sand in your coop. So sit tight, relax, grab a mug of coffee or something a little stronger (if you’re so inclined), and let’s chat like pals.

Why Should You Use Sand in Your Chicken Coop?

sand in chicken coop

All beddings have pros and cons. Sand might be an uncommon choice, but it is undoubtedly one of the best choices. Here are some of the main reasons why:

  • Easy to Clean– Sand is easy to clean. You don’t have to replace it often. With sand, you only need to spend a few minutes each day to keep your coop at its best state.
  • Reduces the Smell– One of the challenges in keeping and raising chickens is the smell. Not only is it unpleasant, but it is also bad for you and your chicken’s health.
  • Reusable– You’ve read that right. Sand is reusable. We’ll talk more about this later.
  • Does Not Rot– Unlike other beddings, sand does not rot.
  • Lower Bacterial Count– Compared with some other beddings, sand has fewer things to offer to harmful bacteria. If the bad bacteria can’t start, it can’t spread. If the bacteria can’t roll out, there’s a lesser chance for your chickens to get a disease and get sick.

How Much Does Sand Cost?

Sand is both expensive and budget-friendly.

It is possible to get inexpensive sand, but it is generally known to be expensive.

In addition, sand could be more challenging to find than the other types of bedding. Also, it is heavy. With that, you might have to worry about shipping fees as well.

On the other hand, sand is budget-friendly because buying sand could be a one-time thing. As we’ve said earlier, it is reusable. If used properly, you won’t have to get it again.

A tip, if you could, it would be a good idea to buy enough sand for two coops. We’ll tell you why in a bit.

How Much Sand Do I Need?

Of course, it would depend on how big your coop is, but you would need to cover the chicken house with at least 4 to 6 inches of sand.

Again, it is a good idea to get more than you need, if possible.

What Type of Sand Should I Use?

sand chicken

Unfortunately, finding the right kind of sand is not easy. It goes by many names, like river sand, coarse sand, and construction sand. However, these names don’t help. Sometimes, these names even create confusion!

You want coarse sand. It should have different-sized particles instead of it looking fine. In other words, you’re not exactly looking for something too dusty. You don’t want the type of sand you see on the playground or the beach.

There is an ongoing debate in the chicken community when it comes to using sand. One side is all for it. On the other side, not so much.

Both sides have a point. However, those who usually have nothing but bad things to say about sand are talking about the wrong sand.

As a chicken keeper, you want what’s best for your chickens. That’s why you might want to look at the points of both sides, but beware of the opposition talking about the wrong kind of sand in the first place.

Where Can I Get Sand?

You can probably get some sand from your local home improvement or hardware stores. The thing is, they may not have the type of sand you need.

You might have a better chance of finding the correct sand from construction supply companies.

Again, the sand you’re looking for goes by many names. It is possible they’re not selling it under that name. It is also possible they’re selling something else under that name. It would be a good idea if you go and see the different types of sand they have.

How Do I Prepare My Coop?

sand for chickens

There are a few things you need to check in your coop before you use sand.

First, you need to make sure your flooring can hold the sand in the first place. Remember, you need to place 4 to 6 inches of sand in your coop. That could be heavy, and your floor could break down.

Next, you need to make sure there are no wide gaps in the floor. If not, the sand could all fall out. Still, you also need to make sure to have good drainage. The sand won’t be able to show what it does best if there is poor drainage.


Using sand for the first time could be challenging because it is heavy. You would need to stretch some muscles to put it to use. However, it is worth it, and this should not stop you! Take your time and do it little by little.

You want to put your sand in the chicken coop on a sunny day or a dry day, at the very least. That’s because your sand could take a long time to dry if it gets soaked.

Cleaning and Maintaining

sand bedding for chickens

Cleaning the coop is easier if you’re using sand.

With sand, you don’t have to go take out and replace the bedding each time you clean the coop. Unlike other types, sand allows you to pick the poop out of the bedding. You can use a litter scoop or a small shovel for this.

It is easy to find chicken poop in small coops. If you have a big one, you can also use a broom to help you search.

Also, a rake would be a fine addition to your set of cleaning tools. Ideally, you would want to rake your sand from time to time to make sure it won’t stick together. To add, you can also use a rake if ever a part of your coop gets wet.

Earlier, we mentioned that it would be a great idea to buy enough sand for two coops.

It is a good idea to clean your coop on a daily or weekly basis. However, yearly clean-ups would also be great, and the extra sand would come in handy for this. What you want to do is to take out all the sand in your coop every year and change it with the extra sand.

Don’t throw the used-up sand, though! As we’ve said earlier, sand is reusable. You can place the used-up sand somewhere where it can be washed by the rain and heated by the sun. The rake would also come in handy for this. Rake this sand from time to time.

After a year, you can use this sand again as you do the same thing with the sand you’re going to take out of the coop.

Things to Consider When Using Sand

river sand for chicken coop

Does Sand Freeze?

Some have said that sand can freeze up. As you might have guessed, this could end up hurting the chickens when they jump from a high place like a perch or a roost.

Well, sand can indeed freeze up if soaked in water. However, I think we would all agree that that can happen with anything that gets soaked in water.

Earlier, we mentioned that sand wouldn’t be at its best if there was a drainage problem. In other words, it won’t be able to perform if the stage is not ready.

It might be a good time to say that sand is a good bedding. It is not fairy dust. It doesn’t do magic. It can be great bedding only when used correctly.

Sand will not do much about the temperature in the coop during the cold seasons, but it is not bad for such times.

Does Sand Heat Up?

Well, yes, it does. It will heat up if directly exposed to a heat source (e.g., sun).

However, it will not just magically heat up as some make it sound. Other things will take a longer time to heat up, but almost everything exposed to a heat source will most probably heat up at some point.

If the sand inside your coop will not be directly exposed to a heat source for a long time, it won’t heat up.

Sand is good when the weather outside gets hot. It can make the inside of the coop cooler.

Can I Use Sand in the Brooder?

It is advisable to use paper towels for the first few days of your chicks.

The little ones don’t know what to and not to eat yet. Using any other type of bedding runs the risk of your chicks getting a crop impaction because they might eat it. Learn about crop impaction here.

How Deep Should Sand Be For Chickens

How Deep Should Sand Be For Chickens?

With sand, you don’t want shallow bedding. Chicken droppings will resurface and stink up the whole place. And it does not help that the peckers’ favorite hobby is scratching treasure from the ground.

With sand, you can get away with a three-quarter-inch depth. But this is only if you have a plywood base. If your base is earthy, you’ll have to go deeper. One inch should be enough to sort out drainage issues. You see, dirt gets soggy when it gets moist.

But for the best results, if necessary, lay a bed of gravel (two-thirds of an inch) before laying the sand.

Always remember, like any other bedding option, sand can get filthy, and neglecting it can lead to various health problems. So develop a cleaning routine and keep to your schedule.

What kind of Sand Do You Use For Chickens?

For chicken coops, you can use either construction sand, river sand, or bank run. With sand, you need to consider the size of the grain because chicks may be tempted to nibble on the sand. All that sand stuffs their little crops, and the grains can have devastating effects on the health of the little birds.

River sand is better for chicks because it is a cocktail of sand of different sizes. It also has small pebbles.

How Often Do You Change Sand in a Chicken Coop?

Generally, one of the advantages of using sand as bedding is that it requires infrequent replacement. But this is no license for neglect. When it starts to get filthy, you can scoop out the lumps that have formed and top up the bedding with a thin layer of fresh sand.


That’s the complete guide to using sand for the chicken coop!

Using sand as a coop bedding might sound odd, but that only makes it a hidden treasure! It is an uncommon pick, but it is undoubtedly one of the best choices out there.

Now that you know some of the secrets behind this gem, it’s time to let your chickens experience this great coop bedding!

chicken coop sand

32 thoughts on “The Complete Guide to Using Sand for The Chicken Coop”

  1. My coop has a concrete floor. I covered the floor with masonry sand. In the corner I put up 2 wooden perches. Every morning when I go to feed my girls I have a kitty litter scoop I attached a small rack handle to it. A small rake and a bucket. I pick the poop under the perches every morning then spread the poop in the field or the yard. I also put up fly traps inside the coop and by the chicken yard. This keeps the coop clean and very few flys.

  2. How do I create drainage in my coop. I have a plywood floor that I plan to cover with sheet linoleum for easier cleaning. I am ordering sand for the coop and run.

  3. I’d love to do sand in my run but do i have to put a floor down? Cant i just level the dirt, put retaining blocks or pavers around it and pack the run with several inches of sand?

    • I have used construction twice washed sand for 3 years and love it. I scoop the poop every other day ot a little daily. It can go in the garden. I have a 12×12 paver floor in the run and 6 -10 inch of sand. Works great. But I have sides that are remarkable to keep out bad weather.

  4. I have a concrete rat slab in my coop covered with plywood, to prevent snakes or mice or rats digging in…can I still add sand? I love the idea over all the other beddings I’ve tried!

  5. Can you compost the poop that has been scooped out? Or will the little bit of sand that is stuck to the poop not work for composing?

    • This is an old question, but sand is wonderful in your compost, especially if your soils are clay. It won’t break down, of course, but you’ll be able to add some texture to your soils. Many people add straight sand to their soil to help with aeration and permeability.

  6. I have used sand for years in my runs never tried it in my coops my runs are raised 36 inches off ground lots of room for my 8 hens

    • Thanks for sharing your experience! Using sand in a chicken coop can have many benefits, including improved drainage, reduced odor, and easier cleaning. However, it’s important to make sure the sand is properly installed and maintained to prevent issues such as moisture buildup and mold growth. If you decide to try using sand in your coop, we recommend doing some research and following best practices to ensure the health and safety of your chickens.

  7. So I just dug out about 4in of my dirt floor in my coop, if I lay pavers and then place sand on top will that be fair enough for drainage?

    • Hello Lisa!
      Great job on putting in the effort to dig out your dirt floor in the coop. To answer your question, laying pavers followed by a layer of sand on top can be a good solution for drainage. Pavers will provide a stable base, while the sand will help with water absorption and drainage.

      Just make sure to use an appropriate amount of sand, ideally around 4-6 inches deep, to ensure proper drainage and comfort for your chickens. Don’t forget to maintain the sand by regularly removing droppings and turning it over to keep it fresh. Happy chicken keeping!

  8. This sounds great but we live in Maine and I question winter with the sand. I would like more information. It sounds to good to be true.

    I want less dust and healthy chickens.

    • Using sand in a chicken coop in Maine during winter has its challenges due to insulation, moisture, cleaning, and ventilation concerns. Consider adding extra insulation, using a coop heater, and adjusting your cleaning routine if you decide to use sand. Alternatively, switch to a different bedding material in winter for better warmth and insulation.

  9. I’ve been considering using sand. But, just had an outbreak of coccidiosis in my new chicks. What would one do if that happens? Remove all the sand and use something else until cleared up? Would the coccidia live in the sand if it remained dry?

    • In case of a coccidiosis outbreak, it’s crucial to clean and sanitize the chicken coop. Remove the existing sand, disinfect the coop, and temporarily switch to an alternative bedding material like pine shavings during treatment. Once the outbreak is resolved, you can reintroduce sand as bedding. Remember to keep the sand as dry as possible and maintain proper coop hygiene.

    • Yes, you can also use sand in the nest boxes. Many chicken keepers find that using sand in nest boxes provides a comfortable and clean environment for laying eggs. Sand is easy to maintain, helps regulate moisture, and offers a natural, dust-free option compared to shavings. Just make sure to regularly clean and replace the sand to maintain a hygienic environment for your chickens.

  10. Hello, we are planning to use sand in our coop, we have a plywood floor. What do you recommend putting down before the sand?

    • Hi Emma,

      As you have a plywood floor, my personal suggestion would be to first lay down some linoleum or vinyl flooring. It’s a fantastic barrier against any moisture from the sand, which could otherwise seep in and potentially harm your plywood. Plus, linoleum or vinyl is super easy to clean and sanitise, and trust me, it makes the job of swapping out the sand so much easier when that time comes.

  11. Hi, we are newer to the chicken community. We have an open floor coop meaning the chickens are exposed to the dirt/grass…can the sand be layer on top of that or is flooring required?

    • Hi Natali,

      Yes, you can certainly layer sand on top of dirt or grass in your open floor coop. It’s important, however, to consider a few points before you proceed.

      Firstly, ensure that your open floor coop has good drainage. Sand’s beneficial properties (like its absorbency and easy clean-up) won’t be as effective if water isn’t able to drain properly and the sand becomes waterlogged.

      Secondly, take into account the fact that sand is quite heavy, and layering it over grass can lead to the grass being smothered and eventually dying off. This could lead to a mud problem in wet weather. If you’re okay with this, or if you have a plan for addressing it, then it’s not an issue.

      Lastly, if you do decide to go ahead and layer sand on top of the open ground, ensure that the layer is at least 4 to 6 inches deep. This will provide enough depth for the chickens to dust bathe and for the sand to effectively absorb waste.

  12. I am new to having chickens and have a mobile coop in a suburb. The coop is going into a 10 x 13 metal run. The chickens tear up the grass of course and when it rains it is a mud pit. Sand was recommended in the run so it seems like I should put papers down first or gravel and then the 4 to 6 inches of sand. Is this correct? Thanks

    • Yes, Missy, sand is a great choice for keeping the coop floor dry and easy to clean. For your 10 x 13 metal run, laying down some papers or a layer of gravel before adding the 4 to 6 inches of sand can help with drainage and longevity of the sand layer. The gravel provides good drainage, while the sand makes it comfy for the chickens and easy for you to clean. Just make sure to keep the sand dry and clean to prevent any health issues for your flock.

      Happy chicken keeping! 🐤🏡


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