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Sand for chicken pen?

We ahve two outdoor growers pens, which are roofed but the front is open (so weather gets in). We're finding straw just stays damp and is perfect for brewing coccidiosis. Chopped straw / aubiose / etc either blow away or cost a fortune.
I wondered if soft sand would be any good as a free draining substrate, or whether young birds would eat it and die horribly somehow?

not come across it being used,i suspect it would get quite soiled very quickly and be hard to clean.

critters do have a habit of finding unusual ways to die but my adult chooks did not seem to eat building sand when they were hunting on a heap of it with a few weeds growing.
wellington womble

I put sand in for my chicks to dust bathe, and the daft things ate the lot. With no apparent ill effects, mind. The quail have some for bathing, and it doesn't seem to need cleaning much. It is kept dry though.

If the straw is getting damp, are the birds getting damp and miserable? Would it be possible to rig up some sort of canopy or awning to keep the wet out in the first place? Forgive me if you've already thought of that and it's not viable for some reason.
john of wessex

I raised this last year and now cover my run with a tarpaulin over the winter which keeps birds & straw dry

Yeah, we are now thinking of a roof extension/"porch". Thanks!
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