Is Sawdust Bedding Good for Chicken Coop?

Although sawdust is dusty to some extent, it can be a good choice of bedding for your chickens. Sawdust is amazingly absorbent, which helps keep your chicken coop odor-free and dry throughout. While sawdust makes an excellent choice of bedding for your chickens, it shouldn’t be too fine.

Using sawdust that is too fine as bedding for chickens can make the chicken coop too dusty, ultimately making your birds vulnerable to respiratory diseases. In addition, use highly-quality sawdust since sawdust from toxic woods can harm chickens over time.

How Much Sawdust Should You Use for Bedding?

The amount of sawdust you use for your chickens’ bedding depends on the size of your chicken coop. If you have a larger coop, for instance, then you will need more sawdust to provide your chicken with adequate bedding. You won’t need too much sawdust, though, if you have a smaller chicken coop.

You will need more sawdust if you have many chickens since every chicken in your coop needs comfortable bedding. Ideally, you need to spread at least two bags of sawdust if you have ten chickens in the coop.

The more chickens you have in your flock, the more sawdust you require to ensure all your chickens have thick, comfortable bedding. Also, spread the sawdust evenly all over the chicken coop since chickens love scratching on sawdust while searching for insects and worms.

How Often to Change Sawdust Bedding?

Sawdust can last for up to six months, especially if it is between 4 and 6 inches thick. You need to change sawdust at least once after a month if you have many chickens pooping in the coop.

Chicken droppings make sawdust messy with time. Water spillages can also ruin the sawdust bedding making your chicken wet and vulnerable to odors. Consider changing sawdust if there are too many droppings on the sawdust. You can also add another layer of sawdust if the sawdust bedding is becoming thinner.

Can You Compost Used Sawdust Bedding?

Yes, you can compost used sawdust bedding. Composting used sawdust bedding will give you enough fertilizer for your garden. Used sawdust compost has plenty of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, which plants need to for proper growth.

It is easy to compost used sawdust bedding. Scoop the chicken droppings with a shovel and keep them separate. Remove the sawdust from the coop and then place the chicken droppings on the top of the sawdust. Dig a hole for the compost heap, or put the compost heap in a large polythene paper. Leave the sawdust for a few weeks to allow it to compost fully.

Which Type of Sawdust is Best for Chickens?

You can use any sawdust for your chicken bedding as long as the sawdust is of high quality. Sawdust from aspen and pine makes great chicken bedding since it smells nice and prevents your birds from developing breathing problems.

However, the sawdust from these woods needs to be completely dry since the strong smell from aspen and pine sawdust can irritate your chickens. Whatever sawdust you use for your chicken bedding, ensure its particles aren’t too fine lest it makes your coop dusty.

Can Sawdust Be Harmful to Chickens?

Sawdust can be harmful to your chickens if the particles are too fine. Dust will quickly get in the air inside the chicken coop if you use sawdust with fine particles for chicken bedding. Dust is harmful to chickens since it exposes them to respiratory problems.

Nonetheless, sawdust will make excellent bedding for your chickens when the particles are thick enough. Sawdust from toxic woods can also be harmful to your chickens. Mind where you are getting your sawdust from to avoid having toxic sawdust in your chicken coop.

Sawdust vs Wood Shaving vs Straw

Sawdust, wood shavings, and straw are the typical choices of chicken bedding for chicken owners. These three have both disadvantages and advantages. Below is a comparison of sawdust, wood shavings, and straw to guide you while deciding which of the three make excellent bedding for your chickens, depending on your needs.


Using sawdust as chicken bedding can have tons of advantages for chicken owners. For instance, sawdust absorbs moisture pretty well. It also dries chicken droppings quickly and further absorbs terrible smells in the chicken coop. Sawdust is also often used as bedding in chicken coops in the winter to make the harsh weather more comfortable for your birds.

Sawdust is available and relatively inexpensive than other materials that people use for chicken bedding. You can buy sawdust from furniture stores for only a few bucks.

Nonetheless, sawdust can be harmful to your chickens, mainly if its particles are too fine. Sawdust will still make fantastic bedding for your chickens if the particles are thick and if you spread enough sawdust in the chicken coop. However, it would be best to change sawdust frequently since it can harbor pets in your chicken coop.

Furthermore, ensure the sawdust you use in your chicken coop doesn’t have smells that can irritate your birds. Consider making your chicken bedding from pleasant-smelling woods. Moreover, avoid using fresh sawdust since it is highly susceptible to mold.

– Wood Shavings

Wood shavings make an excellent choice of chicken bedding for several reasons. First, wood shavings break down quickly. They also have excellent insulation capabilities, making wood shavings suitable for making chicken bedding in cold months.

Furthermore, wood shavings are highly moisture resistant, which makes them less vulnerable to mold. Wood shavings are also dust-free, unlike sawdust. If you make chicken bedding from wood shavings, your chickens will be at minimal risk of getting respiratory diseases from dust.

In addition, wood shavings don’t attract pests such as mites. Wood shavings stay longer and don’t require frequent changing, unlike sawdust. These smell much better than straw and sawdust, especially if they come from pleasant-smelling types of woods such as pine.

Wood shavings, however, can attract plenty of molds, and they also get wet quite easily from spillages and chicken droppings. The quality of wood shavings varies significantly depending on the type of wood.

Some wood shavings can also be dusty, posing breathing problems to your chickens. You also have to muck out wood shavings regularly to ensure your coop doesn’t get a build-up of ammonia over time.

Nevertheless, wood shavings remain a good choice of material to use for your chicken bedding if you change them frequently and if you avoid using fresh wood shavings. Line your chicken coop correctly using wood shavings to give your chickens comfortable bedding they can sleep on.

– Straw

Chicken owners use straw as bedding, since it is easy to find and it is also relatively inexpensive. Straw also lasts longer, and it is particularly beneficial for chicken owners with large coops and several chickens in their flocks.

Low-quality straw can harbor mold and bacteria, which can affect your chickens if you don’t change the straw in your coop regularly. The primary benefit of using straw for your chicken bedding is that it is entirely dust-free.

Straw is excellent for baby chicks since baby chicks can quickly develop respiratory problems due to dust. Straw, nonetheless, decomposes relatively quickly, which can be both an advantage and disadvantage depending on your needs.

Due to its ability to decompose quickly, straw can be good for making high-quality garden fertilizer. While straw is cheap, it is costly in the long run since you require a considerable amount of straw to create comfortable bedding for your chickens.

Furthermore, straw is lightweight, which means your chickens can easily blow the straw around the coop. Straw, nonetheless, can make excellent bedding for your birds if you use a decent amount of straw.


Sawdust bedding is suitable for chickens since it provides plenty of advantages over most materials used for their chicken bedding. Nonetheless, mind the quality of sawdust you use for your chicken bedding. Most importantly, ensure the sawdust has thick particles to prevent the dust from the sawdust from affecting your birds.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

Questions and Answers

Anna Collins April 21, 2022 Reply

Thanks for mentioning that it’s advisable to change the sawdust in your chicken bedding at least once after a month, especially if you have many chickens since they tend to get messy over time. My dad plans to own a chicken coop, so we’re preparing to set it up. I’ll tell him about this while we look for pine sawdust for the beddings.

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