Using shredded newspaper as coop bedding

Over the years I have tried various types of bedding in my chicken coops. Usually I stick with wood shavings but I have been known to use leaves, hay or straw as bedding in my coops from time to time. A few months back I came across a forum topic discussing coop litter and several people mentioned using shredded newspaper as coop bedding. It was supposed to be absorbent and easy to compost after coop cleaning.

Shredded newspaper, chicken coop

I decided to do some research and give it a try. It wasn't difficult, just shred the newspaper and throw it in the coop. It was free. It was easy.....but how did it work?

Using shredded newspaper in the chicken coop

While newspaper is generally 'free' (what else are you gonna do with it after you read it?) the shredder certainly isn't and depending on what size coop you're filling you do run the risk of burning up a shredder. To prevent this I shredded paper for about 5 minutes a few times a day till I got enough paper for my coop. 

I only used the regular newspaper part, not the shiny ad papers. I also used some regular shredded paper like bills and such. 

I chose the d'Uccle coop for this experiment. It's not terribly large which I thought was a good idea in case it failed miserably. I covered the coop floor with about 2" of shredded paper. As the days went by it packed down and I would add more from time to time. 

The chickens had no problems walking in or turning the paper coop bedding. The coop didn't smell and when the paper litter got wet, it quickly dried out. 

I did see them eat a piece or two of shredded paper, but didn't notice any problems from it. 

I have to say that shredded paper is not the best for nest boxes. It's easily kicked out of the nest boxes leaving the middle of the nest box bare, with a fluffy ring of paper around the outer edges. 

Also when chickens lay an egg, the egg is still slightly wet. A slightly wet egg picks up the print from newspaper making a sort of decoupage look on the eggs. 

It's kind of neat looking, but try explaining that to egg customers! I ended up going back to shavings in the nest boxes.

Shredded newspaper in chick brooder

During my research I did find many complaints that the shredded paper often blew out of the coop and all over the yard. This also happened to me. The coop I chose was in an enclosed run so the paper mostly stayed within the run. I think the shredded paper that got out of the coop broke down quicker because of this. 

I throw scratch in the run occasionally so with the birds often scratching through the leaves/dirt/ paper it decomposed fairly quickly. The few pieces that got out just sort of disappeared after it rained. 

I know many gardeners add newspaper to their compost piles so I know it breaks down quickly when it comes time to clean the coop out and compost the bedding.

Towards the end of my experiment I had a spill in the biggest coop (12X20) and about 1/2 the bedding needed removed ASAP. I only had 1/2 a bag of shavings on hand, it was in the negative degrees out with windchill and the local feed store had already closed for the day. 

I was stuck, so I dumped all the shredded newspaper I had in there. I figured it would at least get me through till morning. It worked like a charm. It mixed well with the leaves/shavings mixture that was still in half the coop. 

The newspaper did break down quicker than the other stuff, but surely saved my butt for several days till I could get to the store.

Does shredded newspaper work as coop bedding?

So, what's my final verdict? Shredded newspaper works and in fact, all shredded paper works well as coop bedding. I imagine in a rainy season it would stay wet a good bit, but in normal weather it's fine. It makes a little mess outside the coop but nothing that won't break down quickly. 

It doesn't seem to stick to the chickens feet any more than any other bedding. It blends with other types of dry bedding well. 

Don't use shredded newspaper in nest boxes unless you want your eggs to have that fancy newspaper-decoupage look. It can go into the compost pile after the coop gets cleaned. 

You may be able to get bags of shredded paper from local office buildings, I've seen people giving it and you're not using your own shredder!

I can't say that I will be changing all my coops over to shredded newspaper but I will certainly be using it from time to time.

Related reading: Using grass clippings as coop bedding.


Martha Stewart's paper decoupage eggs, because...why not?

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  1. Great advice! Thanks for the in-depth review.

  2. It's always nice to know there are other, cheap options out there. I like to use whatever is most readily available to me- and I've used shavings, leaves, straw, etc as well. I could definitely appreciate the composting aspect of it. I compost directly in my chicken run- so adding the newspapers to my run might be something I would definitely consider! Thank so much for sharing :)


  3. Very interesting. I have read a process that will turn newspaper to cat litter too, but haven't tried it yet. I was worried about it staying wet too long.

  4. Interesting idea! I use straw right now, but we are running low. I may have to give it a try!


  5. This is a great tip! Thanks for sharing at Simple Lives Thursday. :)

  6. This is very interesting. I may give this a try being as we have quite a few newspapers just lying around! Thank you for sharing!

    1. I wasn't real sure it would work, but was pleasantly surprised! give it a try..


  7. Thanks for sharing this interesting post at Good Morning Mondays. We use straw in our laying boxes but we get heaps of newspapers, might give it a go. Blessings

    1. You should try it! Stick with the straw for nest boxes though....unless you want decoupage look eggs! lol


  8. thank for sharing! Its so cool and nice diy tutorial.

  9. I use it for new chicks while they're in the sunroom before moving outside...they love covering themselves in in. Haven't had any health issues so far.

    1. That's a great using newspaper in a brooder in the house you'd cut down on some of the dust from wood shavings!