Using Coffee Grounds Bedding
Chicken math is real on my farm, especially during the spring into the early summer. We usually add chicks to our flock in the spring and summer and try out a few new breeds each season. We set up a few separate brooders and expand our coops. Over the last few years, I have worked on ways to make our brooders and coops as efficient as possible. We installed watering systems, created feeders with no waste, and even added automatic coop doors. Everything was great except for one thing; we wanted to make some changes to the coop bedding we use.
Although pine shavings are wonderful to use and really the go-to always, I wanted to try something else. We tried a lot of different types of bedding, from pine pellets to special chopped-up straw to even a kind of sand that was safe for the flock. All are good options, but I was still not 100% happy with the bedding. I wanted something a little easier to maintain.
One day while I was at my local feed store, I noticed an overwhelming smell of coffee. It wasn’t unusual to smell coffee early in the morning in the store, but this was super strong! When I reached the chicken supplies section, I was so surprised to find a bedding alternative for your flock that is made of 100% recycled coffee grounds. I had to give this bedding a try! I purchased a few bags just in time for spring coop cleaning.
Coffee Bedding in the Coop
When I got the coffee bedding home, at first, I wasn’t sure how this was exactly going to work. It’s good to start slow with any new type of bedding or change in your coop. I wanted to see how the birds reacted to the coffee bedding, so I began by sprinkling just a little bit of the coffee bedding over a layer of pine shavings. Being that I have a lot of Silkies, and they can be mischievous at times, I sat and watched the flock for a bit to see how they interacted with the coffee bedding. The birds scratched around, and I caught a few dust bathing in the coffee grounds. They seemed happy.
The following day I noticed one of the best benefits of the coffee bedding, there was no smell in the coop! It smelled like a freshly brewed cup of coffee in my coop! I also noticed that the bird’s droppings were more absorbed into the bedding, similar to cat litter. Cleaning was such a breeze. I simply raked out the bedding, and the coop was clean. I clean my coop often, but no matter what, sometimes you get that coop smell. Not as much with the coffee bedding.
Brooding with Coffee Bedding
After I found out how much I liked the coffee bedding in the coop, I decided that I wanted to give it a try in my brooders. I did a good amount of research before giving the coffee bedding a try in our brooders. Since I typically brood in a large plastic tote, I gave the tote an excellent cleaning. Next, I added about 2-3 inches of coffee bedding and put the chicks’ feeder and waterer on a tray, keeping them out of the coffee bedding. For the first few days the chicks are in the brooder; I put down some paper towels over the bedding before letting the chicks walk right on the bedding. I do this with coffee bedding and pine shavings, to help make sure the chicks’ legs are nice and strong.
Just as I did with the older chickens, I made sure to keep an eye on the brooder when the chicks first experienced the coffee bedding. The chicks didn’t eat the bedding. I could simply again just give the bedding a rake with a cat litter scoop or larger strainer, and the brooder was clean. The best part of the coffee bedding is the brooder was dust free and smelled amazing! If you have brooded any poultry, you know about the brooder smells, especially as the chicks grow week by week. I didn’t have to change the bedding as much in the brooder, and this was a reasonable cost saver for us.
Our Coffee Bedding Today
It’s been over three years now that we have been using the coffee bedding with our flock. Since our coop is a bit larger, we use a mix of pine shaving and coffee bedding in the coop. For brooding, we use coffee bedding with no pine shavings. We not only use the coffee bedding for brooding our chicken chicks, we have also used the coffee bedding with ducks, turkeys, Coturnix quail, and even Button quail.
When it comes time to clean the coops and brooders, we simply dump the bedding into a compost pile specially marked for the coffee bedding and use the composted bedding throughout our farm. It’s a great way to recycle!
I haven’t found any downsides to using the coffee bedding in our setup. I found when brooding white Silkie chicks that the feathers on their feet can get a little dirty from the coffee bedding. That is an easy fix, though, by wiping the feet gently with a damp paper towel.
Quick Tips to Remember
Some essential tips to remember when using coffee bedding:
- Be sure that you are using coffee bedding that is marked safe for animal bedding on the bag. Companies go through the process to ensure the coffee bedding is dry, free from any harmful agents or caffeine, and ready for your flock.
- You don’t want to make your own coffee grounds bedding. Keep this to the professionals.
- When making changes to your coop, be sure to start slow, and make sure that your birds are happy with the adjustments.
Enjoy the Adventure
Everyone’s coops are different, and it takes time to find what works best for you in your coop. Experimenting is part of the amazing experience of raising a flock of your own. There are so many different bedding options available for your flock, from the traditional pine shavings to the coffee bedding to even hemp bedding. Take the time to try out what works best for you, and enjoy the process!
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Can you use this in the run also in place of sand?
Hi Karin. I would hesitate to use the coffee grounds bedding in an area that may get wet from rain. The coffee grounds is intended to be used in areas where it won’t get completely soaked. It is best for using in brooders and nesting boxes, or for floor litter inside the coop.
Hello Karin, thank you for the information!! Can you please tell me what you do in the winter with coffee bedding? This is my first winter and I’ve read about the deep litter method, but I would like to stick with the coffee bedding.
Hi Dannette. Thank you for reading the Meyer Hatchery blog and for your question. The coffee grounds bedding can be used just like pine shavings for the deep bedding method over the winter. You will want to stir the bedding occasionally and add fresh litter when needed. Then do a complete cleanout in the spring, sending the old, used bedding to the compost pile.
Hi Marie, I have a similar question for winter prep. right now I have construction sand/coarse sand below the roosting bar to collect poo throughout the night, and scoop like kitty litter in the mornings. Was thinking of switching to coffee for the winter—thinking it wont retain as much cold as the sand? This is also my first winter with my girls, so want to get it right! Thanks for your help 🙂
Hi Megan. Sand is dense and will actually hold heat longer into winter than coffee grounds will. The coffee grounds bedding will contain more air in between its particles than the sand, which means coffee grounds will give up any heat and reach ambient temperature quicker than the sand will. I would keep the sand in place since you already have it.
Thank you Marie. What prevents the coffee from molding? I clean out my coop every day to every other day. I only have five birds, so it’s super easy. Do you feel like the coffee smell helps deter rodents and bugs? I love this blog!!! It’s so helpful
Just like any bedding made from organic material, if it is allowed to stay too wet, it will mold. The coffee grounds bedding isn’t really meant to be a rodent or insect repellant.
Hi! What brand of coffee bedding do you use?
Hi Jaimie Lee. Thank you for your question. As far as we know, there is only one manufacturer of coffee grounds bedding. It’s a fairly new product and can be difficult to find, but we’ve found it at local feed stores here in Ohio.