Monday, 3 November 2014

How to Get the Most from Hardwood Woodchip for You and Your Birds

November has started with a drizzly weekend here in Dorset, but it still seems unseasonably warm and the trees are almost refusing to drop their leaves. However, it is November and thinking of the impending winter to come (probably wet and windy again) I thought, despite my desire to be outside in a t-shirt, now would be the time to refresh the chicken run woodchip surface ready for whatever the English winter cares to give us.

With good care, the refreshing of the woodchip needs only be an annual task and we find it's best done before the really wet or cold weather arrives. The FSF Blog this week turns its attention then to how to maintain and care for the hardwood woodchip to get maximum use and most benefit for you and your hens.

Flyte so Fancy’s Hardwood Woodchip (a playgrade quality with softened edges and of a relatively uniform size with very little bark) can provide an excellent chicken run surface to keep your hens ‘entertained’ as well as clean and healthy. They will just love scratching it around looking for elusive bugs and worms and it will, with care, create a clean barrier for them to live on, out of the mud.

Properly maintained, a good layer of woodchip will last from 6 months to a year, but how do you get the best from your woodchip?
Poultry Run Wooodchip Floor

Raking and Washing

One of the best ways to keep your hardwood woodchip clean and fresh for your girls is to regularly, roughly once a fortnight, give it a rake over and a good wash with the garden hose. As the woodchip is lighter than the mud and soil that clings to it, by raking it and washing it back and forth, the hardwood woodchip rises to the surface again to create a clean barrier on top of the mud below.

Poultry Flooring for Chicken Runs

It's entirely possible that your neighbours will think you've gone a bit potty if they see you, but one of the best ways to keep your woodchip clean is to regularly treat it with a poultry disinfectant, mixed in a watering can and to walk back and forth watering the ground. This is best done in the twilight after the hens are shut in the house on a dry day.

A good disinfectant, like Net-Tex Viratec-P Poultry Disinfectant, cleans and disinfects in one application, highly effective against fungi, bacteria and viruses, it is ideal for washing off the hardwood woodchip, DEFRA approved against all notifiable poultry diseases, it is safe for you and your girls.

Sanitising Powder

Ground Sanitiser Powders are fantastic for treating the ground in your run, to treat against issues such as worms, as eggs, larvae or fully grown, as well as parasites and germs. Flyte Coop and Run Sanitising Powder is a new generation ground sanitiser with a  DEFRA approved disinfectant, effective at keeping the ground clean and fresh. Sprinkle it onto the woodchip and let it settle through to take care of any worms or parasites. Completely safe for chickens (you can use it in the coop too) it's best to do it at night, as it is just easier to do without your flock of girls under your feet.

Doing these three simple tasks roughly once a month (more often with the raking and hosing if required) you can keep the hardwood woodchip in your chicken run clean and sanitary for your birds for around a year, saving on the chore of constantly having to remove and refill the poultry pen.

Time for some mathematics.

A sack of woodchip weighs somewhere between 15kg to 20kg depending on moisture content, will cover on estimate around 10 sq ft with a depth of 2" - 3". 10 sq feet is an area 10ft by 1ft or approximately 1 metre by 1 metre.

To calculate your run area, times the length of your chicken run by the width then divide by 10, which will tell you how many bags you need. For example a 9ft x 9ft run needs 8 bags.

9 x 9 = 81, divide by 10 = 8 bags.

Woodchip for Chickens
The FSF Chickens Approve the New Woodchip Layer
If you dont already use woodchip or have any questions about the hardwood woodchip or treating your chicken run to keep it healthy and clean for your girls why not leave a comment below or call us on 01300 345229 to talk to a member of the FSF team.

Thanks for Reading


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Vetrimark USA. I'm glad you found it helpful.

  2. My run has deep high quality play woodchip and has been clean and dry, droppings just seemed to magically disappear into it for a very long time and it didn't smell at all. I notice now though it has gotten a bit muddy and slimy and ever so slightly pongy. Iwant to use a product on it to freshen it up but I am concerned that I be washing chemicals in that will harm the surrounding grass, beneficial composting bacteria and worms etc in the soil?

    1. Thank you for the comment. You could always try the Net-Tex Viratec-P Disinfectant that was mentioned in the Blog above. This is highly effective against bacteria, etc, and would give the woodchip a clean. However if the woodchip has been down for roughly 9 months to a year, it may be time to replace the woodchip entirely. I hope that this is helpful, if there is anything else please contact us via the blog or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the FSF Team.

  3. Anne, do you know of any natural cleaning/disinfecting products that you could use on woodchip?

    1. Good Morning Alex, thank you for your enquiry. The only 100% natural way to keep it clean is to hose the woodchip down with water and rake it over. Slightly more organic cleaning products would be the Coop & Run Sanitiser or Diatomaceous Earth. If there is anything else that I can help with please contact me via email or call the FSF Team on 01300 345229.

      Thank you Kindly

  4. Hi Anne, I already have some Biolink BioVX Disinfectant Powder will this work as well as the Net-Tex Viratec-P Disinfectant?
    We have just put the woodchip down so I want to make sure we are using the right thing on it to keep it in good shape.

  5. Hi, I have a 12ft x 6ft run sitting on a concrete base which is sealed all the way around. Was looking at various comments regarding hardwood chip. As the run is sealed, any water used to wash the chip would just stay in the run as there is nowhere for it to drain. Is there anything I can do as cleaning my existing run is quite labour intensive. Thanks

  6. Brilliant product, we had bark down and it was never dry. We took it out and put in the woodchip and what a difference it makes visually and hygienically. The chickens love it and scratch around in it all day. Great product

  7. My run is on a concrete base and I plan to put wood chips down, how well will I be able to keep the smell down? Even if I rinse and disinfect, the droppings will just sit under the chips...

    1. Mine is on concrete and the poo just sits under the chippings it has nowhere to go it is now a big smelly slimy mess :( think I'm going to have to relocate the chickens to the grass and start again