Bedding is essential for placing in your nesting boxes. It provides a soft landing zone for your flock’s eggs, which will prevent breakage. Good bedding will also make your hens more likely to lay in their nesting boxes. This will save you lots of time in the long run – no more running around and searching for your eggs!
1. Nesting Pads
Nesting pads are the best option overall for coops of any size. They are made to be soft, comfortable, easy to clean, and economical. Your girls can lay eggs in their nesting pads with no risk of egg breakage.
Reusable: You can reuse them for years, so this one-time purchase is definitely the most economical choice of all your chicken bedding options. Whereas other options like hay and wood shavings require at least monthly upkeep, nesting pads will be a one-time purchase. This makes it the most sustainable option for your coop!
Sanitary: Nesting pads are easy to remove and clean as necessary. Wipe them down with a chicken safe sanitary spray as needed and place them back in your nesting box before your girls have to return to the coop!
There are several different types of nesting pads including standard plastic, rollout, and jumbo sized. The perfect nesting pad for your coop depends on which will provide the best fit for your nesting box. Chicken breed profiles are also another important factor. Larger breeds like Brahmas and Cochins will be more comfortable in big bird nest pads, while smaller & standard sized breeds like Bantams or Rhode Island Reds will be more likely to enjoy standard sized pads.
2. Hay or Straw
Hay and straw are another popular option for nesting box bedding, mostly due to the fact that they won’t retain dust. Be warned, though – there are a few cons associated with these materials.
Attracts Mites: While any material can potentially draw mites if your nesting box isn’t clean enough, hay and straw are known for attracting chicken mites easier than other items on this list if not kept up with.
Requires Frequent Upkeep: If you use hay or straw as bedding in your chicken nesting box, be prepared to clean it out once a week to avoid unsanitary conditions for your chickens. This is because hay and straw retain moisture easily.
3. Pine Shavings
Pine shavings are one of the most popular nesting box bedding choices with chicken keepers. This material creates a soft landing space for your hens’ eggs, and is slightly easier to work with than other options on this list.
Keeps Your Coop Smelling Fresh: The natural scent of pine shavings is light and pleasant. As long as you are changing out your bedding enough, pine shavings will create a nice (but not overpowering) smell in your coop.
(Slightly) Less Frequent Upkeep Required: Depending on the habits of your flock, you may only have to change out pine shavings every 1-2 weeks. This is because they dry out quickly and don’t decompose as fast as other options like hay or straw.
4. Hemp Bedding
Hemp bedding is growing in popularity as a nesting box bedding material. It clumps up when waste is depositied into it, making it easier to clean than other options.
Hemp bedding needs to be replaced every 30-45 days, making it slightly more economical than straw & wood shavings.
Like hemp bedding, sand will clump up, making cleanup easier. For cleaning purposes, you can use cat litter scoopers or a rake depending on how many chickens you have.
Sand requires constant, daily upkeep. It also is more expensive initially than straw and wood. If you can manage to keep up with your coop’s cleanup, however, you will only need to replace it 1-2 times per year.
This is definitely a better option for outdoor runs as opposed to small enclosed coops, as it will break down easily.