Dried grass as coop bedding

I often experiment with various types of bedding in my chicken coops. I prefer wood shavings simply because they're convenient to buy and easy to store before use, but I have been known to use leaves, hay, straw and even shredded newspaper in my coops. Three years ago I decided to find uses for grass clippings and chicken coop bedding was one of the options I discovered. 

Dried grass on floor of chicken coop

Unfortunately you can't just cut the grass and dump it in the coop. It'll get moldy. You can dump fresh cut grass in the run for the chickens to dig through and they will love it! It needs to be outside where it's exposed to good air flow to help it dry out though. 

There's not enough air flow inside a chicken coop, so to use it as bedding it needs dried out first. It's not like it's a difficult process, it just takes time and a dry, hot day.

To dry out the grass clippings I dump the lawnmower bag out onto a tarp, large wheelbarrow or in the back of my pickup truck to dry in the sun. I like to flip it a few times during the day to thoroughly dry all the grass. The inside of the pile takes longer to dry if you don't flip it.

Air drying grass clippings

Once completely dry, then add to the chicken coop. You can either use it alone or in conjunction with other biodegradable bedding material like straw, hay, wood shavings or shredded newspaper. The only coop bedding material grass clippings don't mix well with is sand.

Using grass clippings in the chicken coop


Dry grass isn't super absorbent, but it is a great addition to almost any other bedding. Dry grass is also compostable so it breaks down well with the deep litter method. Plus, it's free which is always a bonus!

The chickens have no problems walking in or turning the dried grass bedding. The coop doesn't smell any worse than normal when the grass clippings get wet. They can mat down a bit if really soaked, but with a normal amount of moisture it quickly dries out. 

Dried grass on floor of chicken coop

I noticed that the chickens spend more time digging through the coop bedding when I use grass clippings. I'm assuming they were picking out weed seeds and other bits of edible greens from the clippings. It's nice to give them something to do on rainy or cold days when they don't want to go outside.

I like to mow the harder to reach areas (ya know, those ones you only get to every few weeks) because they tend to grow longer and weedy-er so there's more bugs and seeds in it.

Does dried grass work as coop bedding?


So, what's my final verdict? Grass clippings work well as coop bedding, especially longer grasses as they tend to have more seeds which encourage the chickens to turn the bedding looking for the seeds. This is especially useful if you're using the deep litter method.

If it gets tracked outside the coop it blends in with the grass just like grass clippings tend to do. It doesn't seem to stick to the chickens feet any more than any other bedding. It mixes with other types of dry bedding well. 

Grass clippings in guinea fowl coop

The chickens certainly don't seem to mind grass clippings being used in their coop. I don't like to use them in the nest boxes though, as it tends to stick to the eggs quite a bit more than wood shavings do. 

I've used grass clippings with chickens, ducks and guinea fowl and they all did well with it....though duck poop does tend to mat it down more than chicken poop. Of course duck poop mats most everything down, so I don't know if that's a fair comparison or not! lol

One of the best parts of using dried grass is that it's free and since you have to cut the grass anyway, there's a steady supply. Plus now you have a way to get rid of all that grass without paying the garbage company to take it!

Of course that leaves you without in winter, but just like using fall leaves you can bag it up and save it for year round use if you want. Just make sure it's absolutely dry before bagging. Any moisture in a bag of dried grass clippings can cause mold which could be bad for the chickens.

I haven't changed my coops over to dried grass completely, but I always add them to the bedding as it's available. What do you use for coop bedding in your chicken coop?

Want to know more about choosing or building your first chicken coop? Check out Chicken coops and bedding how to's.

~L

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1 comment:

  1. I have no grass here in Oakland CA but am using wood chips not shavings mixed with scratchings from a giant hay bale. They have fun with it and it lightens up the chips. Just sahbings too much $$shavings

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