Trials and tribulations of coop flooring

November 3, 2009 | By | Comments (19)

The flooring of our coop has caused some trouble over the seasons. I’ve scoured the blog for any mention, but it seems none of the saga ever made it into a post. The record, then, lives in photos.

This post recounts Ophelia’s crop failure. Notice that the flooring is straw:


Chickies on straw


What was omitted from all of that Ophelia drama was that her crop was impacted because she was eating all that straw.

This post was in the middle of the health problems (hence the yogurt regimen and Elizabeth’s daily crop massages) and you’ll notice that the floor is bare. We’d gotten rid of the straw but hadn’t figured out what, if anything, should replace it.


Chickies on bare floor


It didn’t take long to realize that bare soil a) gets muddy and messy when wet, and b) smells when pooped on. So by this post, we’d switched to large bark mulch.


Chickies on bark


The bark mulch works really well for us. We can add layers to it should it get messy or start to smell, and we can muck it out pretty easily when it’s time to do a deep cleaning. It’s actually due for a mucking. The bark is piled up so high that we’re having trouble opening the door to the coop!

A passerby recently commented that it is cruel to have chickens standing on bark mulch because they can’t scratch and dust-bathe. But actually, they can and do all the time.



This is the least exciting picture ever, but it’s my proof that the girls can kick the bark and scratch away.

We use wood shavings in the lay boxes because it keeps them nice and soft for egg-laying (less cracking when there’s a fluffy landing). We decided against using them for the entirety of the coop because Ophelia still seems to enjoy eating them.


So that’s how we do it. We are curious about how other keepers of backyard flocks handle flooring material. Margo recently learned that the folks at Full Circle Dairy in the San Joaquin Valley house their chickens on SAND!

How about you, fellow keepers of backyard flocks?


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  3. Celina Anne Vang

    Attractive section of content. Today we have a coop which is raised 4′ off the ground with a drop down floor for easy cleaning. Thanks for the tips.

    January 6, 2014 at 3:47 am
  4. Annette

    I have wondered about this same thing because I do not like the smell of the wet chicken run. I decided to try throwing in the grass cuttings and it has worked great. It keeps the ground cooler and keeps the smell down. The chickens seems to like scratching in it so every week they get fresh grass clippings.

    June 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm
  5. Sondra Stephens

    I have 5 girls & live in the small city. I like to say I have a city farm. My neighbors love my yard looking so farmy…lol. But for my girls I put cedar shavings on the floor. They haven’t fed on it or anything like that. I don’t put a lot cause it does turn into mud when it rains. I also use crushed corn, bird seed, with some cedar shavings in their nesting boxes. They seem to love to eat while laying & it keeps them from feeding on the shavings. In their yard I tend to dump a bag of top soil from LOWES about twice a month for dusting. This helps keep them from digging to china. I have fenced in my full back yard (for grandchildren too) for them to roam in dailey. I have berry patches & gardens fenced to keep the girls out. We have several small swimming pools for the grandbabies; the old pools I have added holes in the bottom, placed bags of top soil in them, & my girls have their own “dirt pools” to swim in. I have their pool in a flower bed which helps with keeping them from scratching my flowers up. They LOVE the pool. The grandbabies thinks it so funny the girls swim in dirt. My girls are like cats or dogs to some. I take pictures with them. If you walk up to them they squat and let you pet them. The grandbaby loves to pet them. And they play nice with my little dog, Bertha Boo Boo. All my girls have names too; Ruth, Bessie, Lillie, Sally, & Gracie.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:38 pm
  6. Norah Martin

    We put down sand in the chicken run and rake it regularly. We recently scooped out some of the year-old sand (which really looks like dirt now) and mixed it in our garden soil. We replaced it with fresh sand. So far the garden looks mighty happy and no problems with any mites or hen illnesses.

    August 25, 2012 at 12:42 pm
  7. Frannie

    Just checked out your blog for the first time. Regarding nesting material for your coop: what’s worked best for me is to buy compressed cubes of coir fiber, fluff them up, then put them over a layer of sawdust. The sawdust reduces the cost, the coir fiber absorbs liquid from the chicken waste, and I pull it all out and place in my compost bins–it makes great, fluffy compost and decomposes well!

    November 11, 2010 at 5:03 pm
  8. laminate flooring

    Can you show some pictures of the coop flooring?

    September 23, 2010 at 6:36 am
  9. Margo True

    Aha! Thanks. Funny, we were just talking about diatomaceous earth on Team Vinegar…we’ve just learned that you can use food-grade d.e. to filter homemade vinegar. We’ll be giving it a try pretty soon.

    May 27, 2010 at 4:50 am
  10. kim

    I suspect that she’s probably talking about diatomaceous earth (“D.E.”) to fight mites in the straw.

    May 27, 2010 at 4:09 am
  11. Margo True

    Thanks for your comment, Julie. We suspect that the chickens (or Ophelia, at least, who continues to have a mammoth crop) are eating the pine shavings out of the nest box, so we’re veering away from using it all over the coop. One question, though: what is D.E.?

    May 16, 2010 at 5:51 pm
  12. Julie Helscher

    We use the pine shavings in the nesting boxes and coop. But haven’t put anything in the run. (It was grass when we started, but you know how quickly that disappeared.) They have done a great job of digging holes for their dust baths. We don’t get much rain, but when we do it drains well, so it only requires a good raking every 4 mos or so, which I deposit in my compost. I haven’t used the pine shavings in the compost b/c I heard it makes it too acidic.

    I use the deep litter method in the coop. Just throw more pine shavings on top and a few handfuls of scratch and the girls keep it pretty tidy. I also add some D.E. to the pine litter, just to make sure we don’t get mites. I clean it all out and sanitize about every 6 mos.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:52 am
  13. anna

    I have read about composting, “deep” floors using pine shavings, then just layer it til it breaks down. If your chickens eat theat, maybe a vitamin deficiency? Just getting ready for some chicks of my own and will do the deep floor method…

    March 25, 2010 at 3:34 am
  14. Cara

    Great post! We’ve struggled with this as well. Girls remove the pine shaving from our nesting box too. For the run, we used gold fine over a layer of rock thinking it would be easy to clean. No such luck! The girls have dug out a corner and it has been muddy and messy. We are thinking about adding straw on top to help until the weather gets better.

    January 8, 2010 at 5:05 am
  15. Kathy

    Im interested in this too. I am currently using staw mostly because they love to kick it around when it’s fresh and it smells good. At least for a few days. Haven’t noticed them actually eating though they do peck at it. Will keep my eye out…

    December 19, 2009 at 2:36 am
  16. Jemerin

    Nice post, thanks for sharing this wonderful and usefull information with us.

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    November 13, 2009 at 11:30 am
  17. Amy @

    I did a ton of research before putting the flooring down in our coop, too, and we decided on sand in the run and the bottom of the coop and pine shaving up in the nesting area. We use a kitty litter scoop to clean out the sand area and it works like a charm!

    November 8, 2009 at 6:48 am
  18. Carly

    I’ve always used straw and haven’t had problems with my chickens snacking on it—but they free range a little more. I’ve had friends that used bark and I considered it but was worried about the expense on just how easy it would be to clean.

    I’ll say though, I have the hardest time keeping their shavings in their nesting boxes!

    November 3, 2009 at 11:07 pm
  19. colleeeen

    We have an equestrian center near us that composts the stable muckings, then they sell it. $2 for a large bag of soft, fluffy pine-shaving-horse-poo compost. We use that for the coop “flooring” and a little straw in the nesting box (so far no problems with the girls eating it). We just layer it on as needed and then when we need to muck out the coop, the whole mess goes in the compost bin.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:01 pm

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