How to Raise Healthy (and Happy) Chicks: Part 2 Bedding


Welcome back to How to Raise Healthy (and Happy) Chicks: Part 2.  In our last article, we discussed food and water (click here if you haven’t read it and would like to).  In this segment, we will be discussing bedding, and what the best option may be for you and your flock.  Much like everything else in chicken keeping, there are several options, so it is important to research the pros and cons of each to determine for yourself which is best.  

Bedding Options and Requirements

Walking through any supply store can be an overwhelming and confusing experience if you don’t know exactly what it is you need, and choosing a bedding type is no exception.  The options you may notice are cedar, large pine shavings, fine pine shavings, sand, and coffee.  Some people even utilize newspapers for the first couple of weeks, until their chicks are a little bigger.  No matter your choice, it is recommended to maintain a bedding depth of at least 4-5 inches.  Let’s take a quick look at each option, and their pros and cons:

Cedar-Although many people enjoy cedar for its smell, this is not a viable bedding option for your chicks.  Cedar is actually HIGHLY toxic to chickens and should be kept away from them in any form, this includes using it as a building material in your brooder or coop.

Pine Shavings-This is my personal go-to for bedding as pine is 100% safe for chickens.  The shavings will be in two forms, either large or fine.  Some people prefer to use the larger shavings, especially for chicks, to help prevent ingestion.  Though I have never had an issue with this, no two chicks are the same and, as you will soon learn, anything is possible in chicken keeping.

Sand-Sand comes in many forms, so you will need to take care and ensure you choose the correct kind if you decide to go with this option.  The best sand to use is construction sand, bank run, or river sand.  Sand makes for easy cleanup as it helps to clump feces, much like cat litter.  Be careful, however, as chicks could eat this and develop an impacted crop.

Coffee Grounds-Now, I personally do not recommend this type of bedding, as everything I have seen or read states that coffee grounds are toxic to chickens due to its caffeine content.  However, some people use it and swear by this bedding and state it is safe as the caffeine has supposedly been removed.

Newspaper-Many people view shredded newspaper as being the safest bedding option for chicks for at least the first two weeks of their lives.  These are harder to ingest and break down quickly when wet.  The only downside is that you will need alot of newspapers as these get wet and dirty quickly (chicks poop ALOT!) and will need to be replaced quite often throughout the day.


As you’ve learned, there are several options when it comes to bedding and they all have good and bad qualities.  It is up to you to research these options and decide which is best for you and your flock.  Do keep in mind, however, that no matter which option you choose, you will need to keep the bedding clean and dry.  This is essential to keep your flock healthy and means you will need to scoop their droppings and any wet bedding several times a day (this is easily done using a cat litter scoop).  Be sure to replace bedding as needed, maintaining a depth of 4-5 inches.  This depth ensures chicks will not slip on and slick surface and will help keep your chicks warm.  You are well on your way to becoming a successful chicken keeper.  Click on the button below to learn more about caring for your chicks in part 3 of this series of articles.

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