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The ultimate guide to chicken bedding

Your newly rehomed hens aren’t used to having comfy chicken bedding to snuggle up in every night so, naturally, you want to make sure they have the best. 

It may well be a bit of trial and error until you find the perfect bedding for you and your hens, but the one thing you should ensure is that whatever you choose minimises moisture and odour in the coop. 

The last thing your hens want is to go to bed in a damp, smelly hen house, so consider this when choosing your hens’ bedding. 

Different types of chicken bedding 

It can be a bit of a minefield knowing what to put in your hen house, so we thought we’d run you through the most popular types of chicken bedding, allowing you to make an informed choice. 


Straw is by far the most popular chicken bedding on the market, with a whopping 43% of people telling us this is their material of choice in our latest Hensus. 

It’s easy to get hold of, is good for insulation and provides great scratching material for your hens. 

Our bedding partner here at the BHWT is Dengie Fresh Bed for Chickens who use dust-extracted chopped straw, infused with pine oil to give it an incredible smell. 

It’s also super soft, making your hen house even more cosy and inviting for your hardworking hens in their retirement. We also find it really easy to do the daily poo pick with this bedding, which is even more of a bonus! 

Wood shavings 

Another popular choice is wood shavings, with 29% of our survey respondents using this as their preferred chicken bedding. 

It’s super absorbent so will get rid of excess moisture in the coop, plus it smells lovely. It’s not as soft as straw bedding and also does not insulate as well, but it is cheap and easy to get hold of. 

Shredded paper 

If you’ve got a shredder handy and read lots of papers then this could be a good option for you! The only cost will be whatever you decide to pay for your paper of choice, plus your time spent shredding (unless of course you decide to pay for some pre-shredded paper). 

Paper holds on to heat well making it a good choice during the winter. However it is very absorbent meaning it quickly gets sodden and will need changing much more frequently than other types of bedding.  


Hemp bedding is growing in popularity and was mentioned numerous times by our survey respondents. It’s a particularly popular choice for ridding the hen house of odour, plus it’s very absorbent and great for insulation. 

However, as it’s a little more niche it can be harder to get hold of and more expensive than traditional types of chicken bedding.  


The difference between straw and hay is the latter is a crop, whereas straw is a by-product of grain crops. Hay is often used as a livestock feed during the winter months when fresh grass is not available. 

For this reason, we do NOT recommend using hay as a chicken bedding as your hens will often it eat it which can lead to impacted crop. 

Hay can also develop mould spores due to its high absorbency rate which can cause additional problems if eaten. 

Other types of chicken bedding  

Other types of chicken bedding can include sand and grass clippings, but we would not recommend either of these due to absorbency issues with sand and the chance of your hen ingesting too much of the grass. 

As with all things in life, everyone will have their preferred choice of chicken bedding so we recommend trialling a few to find out what works best for your set up and for your hens. 

For more information, and if you have any questions, please contact our Hen Helpline on 01884 860084. 

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