Sand For Chicken Coop: Is it good?

Many people have different views on whether to use sand as a chicken bedding in their coops or not. The decision to use sand for chicken coop should be personal and I leave it on your own hands to decide to use or not to.

Sand can be a good bedding in the chicken coop because I have used it several times and found that it worked well just as I expected.

After going through the advice I am about to give on sand, you will have an easy time making the decision whether it should be part of your chicken run or coop.

This material is not new among chicken keepers bit I am sure there are a few used to other types of litter like straw and pine shavings. Sans has been in use for over 100 years and it is still a favorite choice to many.

Scientific studies show that sand performed much better than pine shavings as it never retained moisture nor allowed bacteria to thrive in it.

Sand will do much better in chicken coops that have a poor drainage system. It does not retain water, will not become dump like most organic beddings and it will not become sticky once wet. Additionally it dries fast leaving the coop free from damp and moisture.

Go a head and scroll to know more about sand as a coop bedding.

What is the best sand for chicken coop?

When I say sand can be used as bedding in your coop, I never meant any kind of sand available is good for use.

Good sand for chicken coop should have large to medium sized grains. Avoid desert sand or debris sand that is swept as waste after construction. It may contain cement and other harmful substances that might be toxic to your birds.

Some types of the sand like play sand is very fine and can easily be eaten by chickens and cause crop impaction.

Maybe someone is wondering how impaction occurs in chicken: When chicken ingest play sand, it blocks swallowed food that is in the crop from proceeding to the gizzard for further digestion. Play sand forms a hard lump blocking food from moving.

When the crop is blocked, it grows bigger day by day as the chicken eats more food. This leads to impaction and eventually death may occur if the bird is not tended on time.

Play sand is mainly made from ground quartz which is very high in dust. Too much dust can cause serious respiratory problems to your chickens.

Fine play sand can may contain some elements of silica that can cause silicosis a problem that affects chicken lungs.

The best type of sand to use in your chicken coop is river sand. This kind of sand is available on the banks of rivers.

The grains of this sand are large sized and often mixed with small pebbles. Some people also refer this type of sand as all-purpose sand and it is often used for construction. Additionally, river sand contains grit that is useful to chickens.

Types of sand

Washed construction sand

This is a type of sand found in the river bed and it contains grit and pebbles. It is also known as sharp sand and most construction work is done using this kind of sand.

It is the best type to use in the chicken run because the particles in it are medium to large and cannot be easily swallowed by chickens.

Concrete sand

Concrete sand is a type of sand that is an aggregate in concrete mixtures and it is mainly used in the production of concrete or mortar.

This type of sand is not ideal for coops as it has small sized ballast particles that can get very cold or hot.

This sand is ideal for construction or as a leveling medium.

Quikrete all purpose sand

This is a type of sand that is washed and used as an underlayment for flagstones and brick pavers. Having coarse grained particles, it can be used in chicken coops but cannot be perfect for dust bathing.

Also, the coarse grains cannot offer the much required grit that other types of sand have. Remember, chickens do not have teeth. These birds use grit as teeth to grind down food to smaller particles that are easy to digest.

Beach sand

Beach Sand

Beach sand is a type of sand that is found on the shores of lakes and oceans. This type of sand is very unique as different beaches have different kinds of sand.

Some people say that beach sand is unique like a finger print something that I personally agree with.

It is made up of fine grained particles collected from different rocks, debris and sea shells. Although it is very rich in grit, this type of sand is not good for chickens due to the small particles that can be easily swallowed causing leading to impacted crops.

How to use sand for chicken coop

Once you get the right sand, it is time to place it in your coop so that it may act as litter for your feathered friends. But before you place it, consider how your coop is.

Take a case of a stroreyed coop made of wood. It is not rocket science to understand that such a coop requires a thin layer of sand due to the weight factor.

For those coops that are built on the ground, they do not have a problem with the amount of sand you intend to put. However, the depth of sand you put in the chicken coop is determined by two factors.

  • Cost
  • Availability

Cost: Buying sand can sometimes be very expensive. Bearing in mind that it has to be transported from where it is sourced from to where the coops are.

If the bedding layer is thick, much of it is required meaning several truckloads of it translating this to a much higher cost.

Availability: If the sand is readily available, you can put as much as you have. Consider a case where sand is hard to find. The only alternative is to put a thin layer or use other types of litter like straw or pine shavings.

Sand management in the coop

Sand is very easy to manage. Once poop has fallen on top of sand, it is very easy to scoop it and throw it away. You can also use a rake to mix the top layer that is dirty going down to the bottom and a fresh bottom layer coming up.

Once you feel the sand has overstayed in the coop, take it out, clean the floor and put in some fresh sand.

Sand mixed with chicken droppings can be sieved to separate it from chicken poop and reused again. This is good as it is economical and helps save time used to go and get some fresh more. However, it is labor intensive and you will be required to get someone to help in sieving it.

Mixing sand with diatomaceous earth helps control some external parasites in chicken. Chicken will mainly use sand on the floor of their coop as dirt bath and to cool their bodies when hot.

This way, diatomaceous earth powder is able to come into contact with mites and lice attached in the birds body and dehydrate them to death.

The good side with sand

  • When using sand, the coop remains very clean. Eggs laid are clean so are the nesting boxes too. Cleaning sand is very easy as you only scoop it out. The bird’s feet remain clean with neat claws.
  • Sand is not prone to fire like other types of litter used in the coop.
  • It does not retain moisture like hay and allows water to drain away easily. With this in mind, you don’t have to worry about a muddy coop.
  • Sand has no chemicals or additives in it meaning it is an inorganic material.
  • Once you have sand in your coop, you don’t need to worry about providing grit to your flock. Sand has enough grit in it that chicken can eat whenever they want to.
  • Sand is very good for dust bathing. With it in your coop be sure your birds have more than enough place to dust groom.
  • In a coop with sand on the floor, there are no or very minimal cases of flies. It does not harbor flies especially if it is regularly turned.

The bad side with sand

  • Acquiring sand can sometimes be very expensive. In some areas sand is not available making it a pricy commodity to purchase.
  • During the hot summer months, sand absorbs a lot of heat and can scorch the bird’s feet leading to problems.
  • Sand can get very cold in winter freezing chicken legs.
  • When swallowed, sand can cause crop impaction leading to death. A good example is the fine grained play sand that can be easily swallowed by young birds. Also this kind of sand can have a high concentration dust that may lead to serious respiratory problems.
  • When mixed with wet poop, sand forms lumps that can be sometimes be swallowed by chickens. These lumps can easily lead to coccidiosis causing death.


Just like I earlier said, the decision to use sand remains a personal one. There are some other materials that can be used like coop litter. Take into consideration what you use on the coop floor and whether it is necessary to switch to sand.

However, sand will work well especially if it is readily available. It will make a cheap source of grit helping your friendly chickens digest food with much ease.

Frequently asked questions

What type of sand is best for chicken coop?

River sand is best for chicken coop. Reason being it has large grains and small pebbles and has no dust like play sand.

This type of sand also contains the much needed grit that helps chickens with digestion. It can be found on banks of rivers and is used for construction.

Can you put sand in your chicken coop?

The decision to use sand should be a personal one. Some have already used it and said how good it was while others said the opposite.

What is the best coop floor material?

A good material to use on the floor of your coop should have qualities like: Should not retain moisture, easy to clean, and should not harbor parasites and bacteria. A material that has the following features is the best coop floor material.

How deep should sand be for chickens?

The thickness of sand to be used should be determined by how the temperatures of your area are. In areas where the weather is very cold, consider a thick layer while for warmer areas put a thin layer.

Additionally, the availability of sand will also determine the depth. If it is in abundance, you can put a thick layer as you can.


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