What’s the Best Bedding for Chickens? – Chickens in a Minute Video

Learn Which Bedding to Use in Your Chicken Nesting Boxes and Coop

Join Backyard Poultry magazine in our video series, Chickens in a Minute, as we answer frequently asked questions about how to raise a healthy backyard chicken flock. In this video, we explore what’s the best bedding for chickens. This is an important choice because good bedding provides comfort for your chickens, helps you keep your coop clean and contributes to a flock’s overall health. Chosen properly, bedding can make a chicken keeper’s life easier.

What’s the Best Bedding for Chickens?

A popular choice for chicken bedding is pine shavings. Pine shavings are inexpensive, found at several farm supply stores and come in lightweight bags. They are very absorbent, and when spread generously on the floor of a chicken coop, last around a month.

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A word of caution: Do not use cedar shavings, they are bad for a chicken’s respiratory system.


Also high on the list is straw bedding which is inexpensive and readily available. Straw is the hollow stems and stalks from grains and sometimes comes with bonus kernels left at the tips. A lucky find for your flock!

Other choices are sand, which has pros and cons as well as shredded newspaper, which is inexpensive but can become slippery. Grass clippings and hay are sometimes used, but more as treats than actual bedding.

These videos are a great reference for both new and experienced chicken owners alike. So feel free to bookmark them and share!



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We love to hear from our fans. What additional questions would you be interested seeing answered as a Chickens in a Minute video?


  • Steph M.

    We live in a medium-sized city on an acre of land, therefore I can gather a year’s supply of leaves within a few days in the fall. They are completely dry and usually bagged when I use them and are stored in a weatherproof place. Since both my run and coop are covered, I don’t want migratory birds or they’re manure where the chickens are, so the leaves stay dry when used as bedding. In the off chance that they are damp I use them as mulch on the garden. No mold gets to the chickens and the chickens aerate them very well so no mold has a chance to start. The chickens work them to the point that they are broken well down and ready for the compost pile. The bedding is added to and doesn’t need to be changed until I do my twice yearly disinfecting of the coop.

    We collect the leaves for use in the garden as well as we are avid gardeners. I’ve been doing this for about 15 years with no health problems to the chickens.
    Most people bag their leaves or rake them to the curb. This a huge loss of good compost and an added burden on taxes. Best of all, the leaves are free. Our gardening practices are such that only nocuous plants or plants such as bindweed etc. leave the property unless it can’t be avoided. Most other types of bedding are costly. Wood and straw take too long to compost and any other form of bedding has to be changed far to often.

    From Vicki Beard, Backyard Poultry reader.

    • When living in town, I would collect a pickup load for the chicken yard, which stopped any smells, and kept the chickens healthy digging into it and buying their manure. One problem, when used as a garden area, the soil was too rich for a lot of things. Sweet corn and garlic did best. Best thing, no digging required.

  • Yvette A.

    I never thought of that! I’ll try to grab the oak and mulberry leaves before they get damp. I was going to put them on the garden but I guess the ducks wouldn’t mind using them in their duck house.

  • When I used to live near a large city, I collected huge bags of shredded computer paper from the roadside in the commercial district. I used this as litter for the chickens and mulch on the garden. Most paper is made from wood pulp, so I still had the wood based litter to absorb nitrogen as it broke down. Worked very well and free!

  • Grampa M.

    we used the cobs and ground them up for a course bedding. we kept the cob whole untill we needed it and it worked quite well. and it was free.

  • thank u this was very helpfull for my chickens and my merit badge animal science


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What's the Best Bedding for Chickens? - Chickens in a Minute Video