New Chicken Coop Bedding

Two weeks ago, I was at the Equine Affaire (a horse trade show/extravaganza) where I came across the Lucerne booth. They sell hay from their farm in Maine. I’ve been looking for a source of chopped alfalfa to feed to my flock, and they sell it in bags (although it’s coated in molasses, it’ll do in a pinch.) When I told Rich, the company president, what I wanted alfalfa for, he showed me a new product that they’ve just developed specifically for backyard flocks called Koop Clean.

Before the advent of bagged shavings, chicken keepers used all sorts of bedding in their coops. Hay and straw is not absorbent, tends to mold, and can cause crop impactions, but it was inexpensive and widely available. To make it usable as bedding, farmers chopped it into bits. Farms were equipped with simple machines to do this work. Koop Clean takes that old idea – chopped stalks of hay and straw – but adds a new component. Mixed in is ground zeolite, which is a naturally occurring mineral that absorbs moisture and odor.

Rich gave me a bag to try.



I shoveled out (and put into the compost) all of the wood shavings in the Little Barn and replaced them with Koop Clean. The Ladies were ecstatic. They went right to work, scratching and pecking. I spied on them via the HenCam. The Koop Clean kept them busy all day, except for Buffy, who happily settled down onto the soft bedding.



This is what you want to see – active, foraging hens. In the winter it is hard to achieve in a small space. Scratch grains tossed into the bedding don’t last long. Even hanging a cabbage has them rooted to one spot. (Some people use deep litter, and In another post I’ll go into detail about why I don’t like that option for backyard flocks.)

I really liked how the flock behaved with the Koop Clean.  The only problem was that the girls were kicking it up with such enthusiasm that I had to raise the waterer to keep it clear of flying bedding.



When first spread out in the coop, it smelled wonderful – a true barn smell, of sweet dried grasses, like late summer in a field. As the week wore on, that aroma dissipated, but the odor of chicken manure didn’t take over, despite the fact that it accumulated as usual, especially under the roosts. I muck out weekly, and the manure was as dry and as easy to pick up as it is in shavings. The task would, however, have taken a tad less time without the rabbit’s help.


I was impressed enough with the trial that I bought four bags. The product is not yet widely available, so I used the dealer search page on the Lucerne website to find a store that carried it.  I had to drive a ways to purchase it, but I always love an excuse to go to a new feed store, and Orde Farm in Hollis, NH was worth the trip.

I spread out a bag in the Gem’s coop. To contain costs, I didn’t remove their clean old shavings. The Gems didn’t care – they set right to foraging and happily clucking over the change in their bedding.



Koop Clean is more expensive than what I’ve been using. It is $13 a bag, rather than $7 for pine shavings. Still, I think it will be worth it, at least for the winter. The hens will eat bits of the hay, and will stay healthier because they’ll be active. I get the benefit of the barn smelling like what I think that a barn should. I don’t know yet how frequently the bedding will need to be replaced, or how dusty it will be compared to shavings. When I find out, in a month or so, I’ll let you know.

Koop Clean is a good product. Almost good enough for me to excuse the spelling of Koop.

In case you are wondering – I don’t take sponsors or advertising here – the ads you see are put there by Google (I get paid a small amount for each ad clicked on.) My comments here are not influenced by the manufacturer.


  1. You really gleaned some important information at that horse show when you discovered Koop Clean. All the girls look very happy with their new “carpeting”. Perhaps you could make a cost saving if you bought ground zeolite and added it to untreated alfalfa yourself (unless Lucerne has a special mixing process).

    • I was thinking the same thing. You can buy zeolite alone from a good aquarium store. According to one fish-keeping book I’d read, zeolite can be re-used, if you soak it in salt water. I imagine that it wouldn’t be worth separating from the hen manure, though! :-P

      Another thing from the pet store that could keep the hens busy: crickets! I was cleaning the school’s chicken coup when I uncovered some crickets. The hens were watching me so patiently but intently as I chased the crickets into their enclosures…boy, do they enjoy crickets!

  2. I was intrigued when I read your first post about this bedding, and decided to do a little research on my own. :-)
    I found Lucerne and Koop Clean! Unfortunately, it seems that their products aren’t sold in Canada yet, so I looked at the ingredients. I know we can get Sweet PDZ here, in the form of a product called Stall Dry, (many poultry keepers here use it in their coops), and there is plenty of straw and hay to be had locally as well, so I started thinking about the feasibility of mixing my own. I haven’t found a source who can chop up the hay and straw yet, though. You mentioned that farms used to have simple machines to do this … Do you know what these machines were called, and if they are still used today? I highly doubt that making my own is worth the time, effort and cost, but it sure would be nice to have something like that bedding up here during the winter months!

    • Jaye, on my wish list is a leaf shredder that you can get from catalogs like Gardener’s Supply. You could run straw through (or use dried leaves!) and make your own bedding – and mulch for your flower beds.

      • I have one of those leaf shredders and they work great! That being said, you can approximate the effects by putting some straw, or leaves, in a garbage can and processing them with a line trimmer you run inside the can – like a immersion blender. You’d have to experiment with the amount of dry material you can chop at a time, but that should do the trick. Be sure to use eye protection!

  3. I hear about Sweet PDZ on the chicken forum I visit frequently. So smart of Lucerne to combine the products. I live in Maine and was pleased to see I could purchase Koop Clean at my regular feed store. I just changed over from sand to pine shavings in my coop for the winter. Although I like the way sand performs in the summer, it just seemed too cold for winter. I am looking forward to a followup on how Koop Clean performs over time.

  4. Hmmm… I don’t think its available around here yet, and the cost is a bit high.. I wonder if you use less of it than the shavings? I do really like the idea.

  5. I spent some time today trying to find Koop Clean in Vermont -no luck. I emailed Lucerne and they emailed right back. They said the closest place to me is nearly 4 hours away in MA. They asked me if there was a feed store near me, so I told them about Guys Farm & Yard. I’m hoping they can convince them to carry the Koop Clean product!

  6. I already use Sweet PDZ under my girls roost area. Would be nice to have access to the “Koop Clean” product as well. Not available in Washington State either. Not sure I want to put all the effort in chopping the straw and hay myself.

  7. I use shredded rye grass straw, plus shredded pine needles from my property, so it’s all organic and readily available. I never have mold problems, and since I use the deep litter method, my chicken houses are naturally warmed.

  8. I only have five girls, three big girls and two bantys and they only use their coop to sleep in and lay their eggs so I use pine shavings in the coop. What I have been doing though is collecting all the autumn leaves then putting a bag of them in the run. The result is the same as your girls. For days now they have spent all day scratching through the leaves. They love them and it occupies them and gives them excercise all day long. I don’t know what they find in those leaves but they never seem to tire of scratching through them.

  9. Out here in Western Mass, our local chicken group had a spell a while back with impacted crops. It seems too much hay and not enough other things was often the culprit. I’ve used hay in the winter pen, but made sure there were also leaves and garden clearings. So far, no problem. I’m wondering if the chopping would eliminate a chance of impacted crop?

    • Yes! Hay can definitely cause impacted crops. As can anything that is long, touch and stringy, like scallions. I once had a hen choke on a leek. Luckily I saw her and was able to pull it out of her throat.

  10. Hi All, thanks for your comments. I’m sure that there are ways to make your own bedding that can match the properties of the Koop Clean, but, honestly, I am grateful for the bags! Easy to store, easy to handle, and no work for me. I can understand (and am impressed by) my readers with real farms that need to watch the bottom line, and have enough space and wherewithal to create their own bedding! But, I’m sticking with convenience :)

  11. Lucky me — I may be able to get this from a Lucerne-product-carrying feed and seed just 20 miles away. They’re checking into it for me. It’s on my husband’s daily work route, doubly convenient.

  12. I have been using Zeolite for a couple of years now, teamed up with rice hulls in winter and in summer, with sand.

    If you do some googling you will find more good things about this and why it should be in your chicken coop. My chooks love the stuff and so does the garden once the chooks are done with it..

    For us one of the important things was that it absorbs water – we have a bit of a drainage issue at times.

  13. Update: I called my local feed store (Guys Farm & Yard) and gave them the contact information for Lucerne. They got right on it and have ordered Koop Clean Inventory which will be available next week. Lucerne has been so helpful. They have followed up with me and my local feed store several times. I’m impressed!

  14. It looks like to me that that Koop Clean should give you a commission or finder’s fee or something for all the publicity they are getting.
    Just a thought

  15. Hi Terry!
    I traveled to Orde Farm today and purchased a bag of Koop Clean. Cleaned out my coop and replaced the bedding with Koop Clean. I absolutely do love the smell. I feel it provides a little more insulation and I do like that my girls will have a chance to forage a little more. I too am curious to see how long it holds up. I use a cat litter scoop every morning to scoop out the poop. I have a small flock of four beautiful hens. I purchased one bag and this will keep me going for a while. Thank you for sharing your discovery!!! So far so good!!!