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Best type of bedding for run and coop

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi there. I've searched and searched and read and read about this topic, but I feel a little lost. I have four 5-week olds and am completing their coop and run (coop is 4'x4' and the run (in which they'll pretty much always be when outside the coop) is about 13'x4'). One of my questions is: we're in the high desert outside of Los Angeles. The dirt is rocky/sandy/dry. Lots of little rocks, fine dirt, bigger rocks, etc. Can I just use that in the run, taking out big stones, of course). The floor of the run is paver stones I laid down and I want to cover it. It seems a lot of people say sand, but not too fine...so I wonder if the high desert natural stuff is okay/safe? If so, do I also throw in any type of "regular" dirt? I just want what is best for the girls, but also economical and not incredibly complicated. (I live on 7 acres of the type of dry dirt/sand/rock, so it's very accessible!). I put a picture of the type of "soil" that is all over the place. I would keep big rocks to a minimum, of course. There are much less rocky areas, but this is the general idea.

 

 

 

 

In the coop, I'll use pine shavings for the next boxes. Should I use it for the coop floor bedding as well? or more of the dirt/sand/rock?

 

Secondly, I feel lost at all the talk of using DE or PDZ (I think). Should they be used in BOTH the coop and the run? If so, how much and how often?

 

ANY clarification/help would be appreciated!

 

Thank you (and our four "Golden Girls" thank you!)

post #2 of 5
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Originally Posted by MountainCountry View Post
 

Hi there. I've searched and searched and read and read about this topic, but I feel a little lost. I have four 5-week olds and am completing their coop and run (coop is 4'x4' and the run (in which they'll pretty much always be when outside the coop) is about 13'x4'). One of my questions is: we're in the high desert outside of Los Angeles. The dirt is rocky/sandy/dry. Lots of little rocks, fine dirt, bigger rocks, etc. Can I just use that in the run, taking out big stones, of course). The floor of the run is paver stones I laid down and I want to cover it. It seems a lot of people say sand, but not too fine...so I wonder if the high desert natural stuff is okay/safe? If so, do I also throw in any type of "regular" dirt? I just want what is best for the girls, but also economical and not incredibly complicated. (I live on 7 acres of the type of dry dirt/sand/rock, so it's very accessible!). I put a picture of the type of "soil" that is all over the place. I would keep big rocks to a minimum, of course. There are much less rocky areas, but this is the general idea.

 

 

 

 

In the coop, I'll use pine shavings for the next boxes. Should I use it for the coop floor bedding as well? or more of the dirt/sand/rock?

 

Secondly, I feel lost at all the talk of using DE or PDZ (I think). Should they be used in BOTH the coop and the run? If so, how much and how often?

 

ANY clarification/help would be appreciated!

 

Thank you (and our four "Golden Girls" thank you!)

 

Hi MC,  Congratulations on your new chicken adventure!

 

There are lots of ways to keep a healthy flock of chickens, so you'll get different answers.  There is no "One Right Way" to do it.  I also live in a high desert, so I can tell you what has been working for me.

 

In the coop I have a sand/PDZ mix.  Most is on a poop board under the roost, which I clean up every other day or so with a kitty litter scoop.  From there it goes into a bucket and is dumped into the compost bin.  My run has a solid roof (used to be a carport) and has 2 solid sides and a roof.  The floor is dirt, covered with any organic material I can toss in there. - Grass clippings, chopped leaves, brooder bedding, nest box shavings, garden clippings, etc.  In the summer I water parts of it down so the birds can dig down into the damp soil and cool off.  I've never cleaned out the run, just rake it around once in a while and add new stuff any time I can.  The poop decomposes as the chickens dig in the dirt.  Think "forest floor", also known as deep litter.

 

 

 

 

My method has worked great for me for the year and I/2 since I moved from SoCal to NM.  Any way you can remove pavers from the run so the birds have access to the dirt?  They love to scratch and dig and dustbathe.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing - Edmund Burke
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The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing - Edmund Burke
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post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

I see what you mean by forest floor in your pics. It (and the chickens) look great. I think I'll be good with a mixture of the dirt from my desert-y area as well as some soil I plan to buy and mix in. I had to put the pavers down to level out the area where we are building the run and coop. The plot it is on was a disaster of jagged, broken concrete (it was a badly created and unfinished pad for a shed). After digging all that up, it was basically mountain rock, so I evened it out with some dirt, put hardware cloth down and then the pavers (we have lots of digging critters). run has four sides with hardware cloth, as well as a solid roof. But, my plan is to fill the run with about 4 to 6 inches of the dirt, soil and whatever else I can put together for a run floor litter. The Do you pit PDZ mixed in the run dirt, too? Or just in the coop? How much do you use for each and how often?

 

I also wonder if I need to worry about grit, if our soil is so naturally rocky/sandy.

 

Also, do you keep water and food in the coop, or just in the run? I've heard people say the coop doesn't need it b/c the chickens are there to sleep and lay eggs, neither of which necessitates having coop space taken up by food or water. So they just have them in the run.

 

Would love your thoughts!

post #4 of 5

Sorry - got busy with work today. 

 

I really doubt you'll need grit as long as there's grit-sized little rocks in your dirt.  I only use grit for the chicks before I let them out in the run.

 

My food and water is all in the run, none in the coop.  Since my run is covered, they can access it in any weather. There are multiple food and water stations so the mean ones can't keep the little ones from eating/drinking.

 

The PDZ (zeolite)  is only in the coop, and the mixture in the poop tray changes depending on what I have on hand - but I like to keep it at least 50% granular zeolite or it doesn't seem to absorb as well.  If the level in the poop tray or on the floor gets low, I toss in some more.  No zeolite in the run.  Took a bunch of it to get started, but now I just top it off with a couple cups every few weeks.

 

How are you planning on cleaning your run, or in other words, how much cleaning do you want to do?  That really makes the difference in what you want to use.  The 4-6 inches of dirt would be great to dig in and dustbathe in, but dirt won't really decompose the waste.  Some people put a bedding over the dirt (like hay or straw) and just rake it out and exchange it as it gets dirty.  Other people like sand in the run and rake/sift the poop out every few days.  Those methods sound like too much work for me in my 20 x 30 foot run.

 

If it were me, I'd put an inch or two of native soil on the bottom, then 2-3 inches of wood chips/greenwaste/chopped leaves mixed with a little native soil.  As the organic materials break down, the waste breaks down, too.  Nice thing is that you never have to clean your run.  Bad side is that you need to keep adding organic material every so often because it "disappears" with the waste. and you do need to spray it down once in a while to help decomposition.  The chickens keep things mixed in as they look for bugs, and if they slack off - just throw out a little scratch and they'll get back to work mixing things up.

 

Hope this is helpful!

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing - Edmund Burke
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The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing - Edmund Burke
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post #5 of 5

it's like my yard..

 

 

 

 i don't put the waterer inside the coop either.. just one outside in the run (5 chickens)

if you are in an area where it will rain or snow a lot .. where the chickens are pretty much inside the coop most of the time?.. maybe it's best to leave one inside the coop

What i posted above are just my opinions.. they are NOT facts.
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What i posted above are just my opinions.. they are NOT facts.
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