what to put on the floor of a chicken run

What To Put On The Floor Of A Chicken Run: Choosing Suitable Coverings

If you’ve been wondering “what to put on the floor of a chicken run,” you’re not alone. Many backyard poultry enthusiasts grapple with this question.

Unsurprisingly, the flooring of a chicken run has significant implications for your birds’ health, safety, and overall well-being. So before putting anything on your chicken run’s floor, you must consider its pros and cons.

Usually, on the floor of your chicken coop, you can put natural dirt, grass and vegetation, and sand. These things have unique advantages and disadvantages that we will describe in today’s guide.

This comprehensive guide will illuminate the best options and help you make an informed decision. So, let’s start:

Why Does the Flooring Of A Chicken Run Matter?

Choosing what to put on the floor of a chicken run may seem like a minor decision, but it carries weight. Like coop flooring, the material you select for your chicken run directly affects key aspects of your poultry’s life – sanitation, health, comfort, and natural behavior.

1. Sanitation And Health: A Top Priority

Every chicken keeper understands the importance of a clean environment in promoting the health and well-being of their flock. Here, your flooring choice can significantly influence the ease (or challenge) of maintaining a sanitary run.

Certain materials like grass or dirt might hold onto chicken waste. Over time, this accumulated waste can foster bacteria growth and promote disease spread among your birds. On the contrary, flooring options like sand or wood chips are easier to clean, ensuring a healthier living environment.

Keep in mind that a clean chicken run doesn’t only lead to healthier chickens but also reduces unpleasant odors. This aspect is especially crucial for raising chickens in an urban or suburban area with neighbors.

2. Comfort and Natural Behavior: Encouraging Instinctive Actions

Your chickens love to scratch and peck at the ground by nature. This instinctive behavior allows your chicken to forage for food and keeps them busy. When deciding what to put on the floor of a chicken run, consider materials that encourage these natural actions.

For instance, a dirt ground or a grassy surface can provide an excellent platform for your chickens to express these behaviors. Even options like wood chips or straw can allow for some satisfying scratching.

Moreover, the comfort factor should be a consideration. Chickens spend a lot of their time walking or standing. Therefore, a hard, uncomfortable surface may cause foot problems or general discomfort for your birds. A soft, forgiving surface underfoot will contribute to their comfort and happiness.

What To Put On The Floor Of A Chicken Run: The Contenders

The quest for the ideal surface when considering what to put on the floor of a chicken run involves analyzing different factors, including cost, maintenance, comfort, and intuitive behavior encouragement. Let’s evaluate some prevalent contenders:

1. Natural Dirt Ground: Back to Basics

Opting for a natural earth surface for your chicken run is a straightforward, cost-effective choice. It’s the closest you can get to a chicken’s natural environment. Chickens, being natural foragers, love to scratch and peck at the dirt, stimulating their instinctive behaviors.


  • Natural behavior encouragement: Dirt allows chickens to exhibit natural behaviors like digging and foraging.
  • Low cost: It is a money-saver option as it doesn’t necessitate purchasing additional materials.
  • Easy setup: Just fence your area and let your chickens loose!


  • Can become muddy in wet weather: Rain can transform dirt into mud, complicating cleanliness and comfort.
  • Harder to clean: Waste can easily mix with dirt, making cleaning more labor-intensive.
  • May invite pests or predators: Dirt can be a magnet for pests, providing an easy digging surface for predators.

2. Grass and Vegetation: A Lush Playground

A grassy run floor provides a beautiful, natural setting. This vegetation creates a pleasing aesthetic and offers natural foraging opportunities for your flock. Also, it contributes to their mental and physical well-being.


  • Offers natural foraging: Chickens can snack on grass, bugs, and seeds, enriching their diet.
  • Attractive aesthetics: A green, lush chicken run can contribute to the visual appeal of your backyard.


  • Requires regular maintenance: You may need to reseed occasionally and water to keep the grass alive.
  • Chickens can quickly destroy coop: Chickens are excellent at lawn destruction. So your green coop might not stay green for long.
  • Can get muddy: Like dirt, grass can become muddy after rainfall.

3. Sand: A Dust-Bathing Paradise

Sand is a common choice for chicken run flooring for several reasons. It’s relatively easy to clean, facilitates good drainage, and chickens adore taking dust baths in it!


  • Easy waste removal: Chicken waste is easy to spot and remove in the sand.
  • Good drainage: Sand helps avoid water pooling and mud formation.
  • Allows dust bathing: Dust bathing in the sand can help chickens naturally combat parasites.


  • Can become compacted over time: After prolonged use, sand might become compacted and hard, reducing its comfort level.
  • Does not provide any nutrition: Unlike grass, sand provides no foraging benefits.
  • May require periodic replacement: Over time, you may need to replace the sand to maintain cleanliness and drainage.

Each flooring option carries its pros and cons. Understanding your specific needs, local climate, and chickens’ behavior is vital to make an informed decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Wood Chips For My Chicken Run Flooring?

Yes, you can use wood chips for chicken run flooring, and it’s a viable option. The wood provides good drainage and can be quite comfortable for chickens. However, they may harbor pests over time and need to be replaced regularly to ensure the cleanliness and health of your flock.

How Often Should I Clean My Chicken Run?

Cleaning frequency depends on your coop flooring type and your flock size. Aim for a thorough clean once a week. Do spot cleans daily for surfaces like sand or wood chips.

Do I Need To Consider My Climate When Choosing Run Flooring?

Absolutely. If you live in a wet climate, dirt or grass may become muddy quickly. Sand or wood chips could be better options, as they offer superior drainage. Similarly, in hot climates, consider materials that won’t overheat and will stay comfortable for your chickens’ feet.

Final Thought

Hopefully, this comprehensive article on “What to put on the floor of a chicken run” has been helpful for you. Now you know what to put on your chicken run floor.

You can opt for the simple, natural option of dirt, the lush aesthetics of grass, or the practicality and comfort of sand. But most importantly, making an informed choice ensures a healthy, happy home.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *