In my big coop which houses 8 hens and 1 rooster (production layers), I use pine shavings. Since I live practically in a swamp down here in southeast Louisiana, the ground can get pretty wet after a heavy rain. I'm trying to figure out what the best substrate would be to help keep it a bit drier and cleaner for my ladies because when it rains, it is a mucky mess out there!
Right now they have a VERY generous amount of pine shavings on the ground. I usually lime the area at least twice a year. They do have a fairly large area under the coop where they can get out of the rain but it will still get soaked at times if the rain is blowing in sideways or we have a lot of rainfall.
So, what's the best way to get them a less mucky environment? Sand, gravel, shavings, hay? I'd love to hear what works for everyone.