Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Switching to Sand in the Brooder

I began with pine shavings in the brooder. Once the chicks were a few weeks old, I found myself changing the water every few hours because it became clogged with kicked up shavings. Yesterday, I switched the bedding to sand.



There are many discussions on using sand in coops and brooders at backyardchickens.com. Also, Gail Damerow suggests sand in her book, Hatching & Brooding Your Own Chicks:
Clean mortar sand or sandbox play sand makes excellent brooder bedding. It is not as absorbent as other types of bedding, but it absorbs heat more readily and evaporates moisture more rapidly and therefore stays drier. Perhaps for the same reason, sand is more resistant to microbes than other types of bedding, keeping baby birds healthier. Soiled sand doesn't stick to feet like other types of bedding can. When it is kicked into a drinker, sand doesn't float and discourage drinking but rather sinks to the bottom so the water remains clean. Provided it is sifted periodically to remove chick poops, sand lasts much longer than other types of bedding, making it extremely economical. [S]and is fireproof, but because it retains warmth better than any other bedding, you have to be more careful about heater placement to avoid overheated chicks.


At first the chicks ate a bit. This is ok because poultry need a hard substance in their crop to grind their food as they expand their diet. I bring them worms from the garden every now and then and hope to get the chicks outside later this week to explore their new pen. So the added grit is needed anyway.


It worked! The sand that did make its way to the waterer sank to the bottom and the waterer stayed clog free and clean overnight.

4 comments:

  1. Makes perfect sense. I was thinking kitty litter may work too but it seems I remember reading somewhere that chicks have some problems with kitty litter.

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    1. Kitty litter is usually clay based. From what I have researched, it sticks together and causes blockages. The sand is working much better than the shavings so far.

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  2. I hadn't thought of this but you are so right. Next brooding flock gets sand.

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    1. It has been a few days now and sand is working wonderfully in the brooder. Some people use sand in the coop too, but I worry that it may be too cold in the winter for our area.

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