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Should You Be Keeping Your Chickens On Gravel?

Keeping backyard chickens as a quick, easy, and cheap source of organic eggs is becoming increasingly popular with most towns and cities now having a sizable number of people who keep their own backyard chickens. With there being a large number of beginners to keeping chickens out there who have only started to keep chickens over the last couple of months we have noticed a huge number of questions being asked with many people asking about keeping chickens on gravel.

Many people do keep their chickens on gravel with minimal issues and although there are definitely better surface options than gravel for keeping chickens on, there are also much worse surfaces. Provided your gravel is rounded rather than jaggered so it doesn’t cut the feet of your chickens and the gravel size is small then you shouldn’t have any major problems.

One thing that you have to keep in mind is that foxes and other potential predators are often able to dig under a chicken fence with relative ease. If you do just have a gravel base on the bottom of your cage then it can be very easy for a predator to get access to your chickens and potentially eat them. Something like a concrete base offers that additional layer of protection that the would-be predator is not able to get through helping to protect your chickens.

Will Chickens Eat Gravel?

Adult chickens and baby chicks will eat gravel as a digestion aid with their being totally normal for chickens. If you use a gravel base in your chicken coop then you have to make sure that the gravel is smooth and small enough to reduce the potential risk to your chickens if they do ingest the gravel with this often being the highest risk when using gravel for your chickens.

You can actually purchase chick grit and chicken grit online to help with the digestion of your chickens if you do notice that they are eating the gravel in their chicken run. The problem is that if you do mix those specialist grit products with a smooth gravel that is often cheaper and larger than chicken grit is that many chickens will still often eat the smooth gravel product.

This can sometimes present a risk of blockages in your chicken potentially resulting in serious health problems or even a fatality in some cases. If you do shop around then you can often find smooth gravel options on the market that are small enough to prevent this issue serving as a nice middle ground between the more expensive chicken grit products and the cheaper but larger smooth gravel products but they can be difficult to find.

Should You Be Keeping Your Chickens On Gravel?

Many people keep their chickens on gravel without any problem and gravel is becoming more popular amongst chicken keepers as it can work out to be much cheaper than some of the alternatives. Gravel is also easy to remove if you decide to stop keeping chickens too where as concrete is far more difficult to remove if needed.

Depending on your location, you may technically need permission from your local council or landlord to use a concrete base for your chicken run too where as the temporary nature of gravel often does not require you to have permission to use. As we mentioned earlier, be sure to get smooth gravel that is small if possible though to prevent problems with the gravel harming your chicken’s feet or issues with it cutting your chicken’s digestive tract if they do choose to eat it.

If you use a gravel bed to hold your gravel in place then it can be very easy to wash quickly with a garden hose helping you keep your chicken run clean but it tends not to be as easy to clean as concrete or paving slabs. You may also notice that you can have issues with your gravel getting scratches out of the run as your chickens forage for food and although this may not seem like much of a problem at first, if you keep a number of chickens then they can quickly end up kicking large amounts of their gravel out of their chicken run needing you to our it all back in unless you add a small barrier around the bottom of the run to get the gravel to bounce back into the run.

What Is The Best Surface To Keep Chickens On?

The best surfaces to keep chickens on include concrete, paving slabs, and soil with each offering their own advantages and disadvantages over the other. Gravel usually comes in at second place to concrete, paving slabs, and soil with sand coming in bottom with sand potentially presenting a number of risks if your chickens ingest in that can cause problems.

Paving slabs tends to be similar to gravel how they offer the advantage of being cheap and easy to remove if needed removing the need to get permission from the local council or your landlord to lay them if you are keeping backyard chickens. Soil can be an excellent option too with it probably being the best option in our opinion but if you do live in a large urban area, many backyards are just concrete rather than soil so it often rules it out.

As most of our readers tend to live in towns and cities and will already have concrete in their backyard this is usually the better option as it is already there ready to go so there is no additional costs for it and it is very easy to clean with a garden hose. We know that when you first start keeping backyard chickens, everything can be new and exciting but keeping the chicken run clean quickly becomes tedious and being able to go over a concrete surface with the garden hose within a couple of minutes is often overlooked.

Conclusion

That brings our article going over keeping chickens on gravel to an end. Many people do keep their chickens on gravel with minimal problems but you do have to make sure that the gravel is rounded rather than jagged and that it is small enough to be able to pass through your chicken’s digestive system without causing a blockage. You will often notice that many of the suitable gravel products that you are able to use with chickens are far more expensive than the cheaper gravel that most people initially consider so you have to factor your costs in too.