Advice please on sand run for newby

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Engteacher, Nov 7, 2009.

  1. Engteacher

    Engteacher Poultry, Poetry, and Prose

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    By the end of the month we hope to pour concrete for our new outbuilding/shed which will measure 16x24. An 8x16 section will be reserved for my chicken coop. [​IMG]

    Which got me thinking...

    When we have the soil scraped off and the crushed gravel and base of sand put down in preparation for the concrete, should I have our guy scrape off the topsoil for the chicken run and put down a substantial layer of sand for the future chickens?

    Background info: the run will be a back section of our way too large garden, so there is no established grass on it now. We have 18" of lovely top soil above 10 different colors of clay. We're talking heavy, heavy clay. Three people have chickens in our area and I've seen plenty of hens belly deep in mud. The topography is a very gentle slope to the north which allows water to drain pretty well, but after a good rain the garden will hold water for a good long time. Our run will be 12X24 and we'll have a laying flock of about 15 birds and a separate section of the coop for our meaties which will have their own outside area apart from the laying flock.

    It wouldn't cost much extra to put the sand in now. So, I bow to your collective knowledge and vast expertise. Should I do it?
     
  2. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have sand in my run, and I love, love, love it. It's very easy to keep clean simply by going around with a kitty litter scoop and picking up the poops.
     
  3. Engteacher

    Engteacher Poultry, Poetry, and Prose

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    Okay, that one "yes." Anyone else care to weigh in on this question?
     
  4. JaciesCoop

    JaciesCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 16, 2007
    Arizona
    oh yes! sand! water doesn't stand in it. easy to turn and easy for the girls to dust bath. I have about a 12" base of sand in all my runs.
    But just know that they can pack it down until it's like concrete so we turn ours about every 2 week. We use the "play sand"
     
  5. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mix coarse sand with fine sand. Buy at materials place that sells bulk. Being it is formerly a garden, there is going to likely be tons of compost mixed into it over the years which helps all soils hold water. Too small to ever keep grass in for 15 birds anyway, so some soil removal beforehand good idea too. I have 2000 sq ft run for 24 hens. Jury is still out whether I can keep grass in it permanently. It had lots of crabgrass and a little bermuda too and some fescue. I currently have 1/3 of it fenced off from chooks so that the new grass gets established before I let them on it.

    Here is an alternative. Take advantage of the good topsoil and humus/compost and seed thickly with grass, but not entire thing. Leave a sandy area for dust bath and dryer area when it is wet. Better yet, make it a walkway thru the pen for you to use since you do not want to be on the grassed part. Put several perches out there too. Then put down pr treated 2x2's and stretch hdw cloth over the grass or seed bed. Chooks get living greens all of the time but cannot eat it down to the roots and kill it off. A win-win as live greens are invaluable for chooks. Cut your feed bill down too. My feed bill is half of another man's who has a bare dirt/sand run. I do give them lots of stuff from the garden and the yard too. It pays off.
     
  6. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Totally agree with getting sand by the truck load from a rock/mulch company...much cheaper than playsand from Lowes/Home Depot....
     
  7. Engteacher

    Engteacher Poultry, Poetry, and Prose

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    The neighbor who is putting the gravel and sand down is a landscaper/sod farmer, so he has everything at his fingertips - gravel, sand, pea gravel, black dirt, compost - and the machinery to get it done right. He'll be over with his bobcat and get it done in next to no time. The only thing that will take a beating is the lawn, but now that the beans have been harvested, he should be able to come across the empty field which will save the grass. I'm curious about the grass and sand split run. I'll have to get the sketch paper out and the tape measure to see how that might be done.

    Thanks for all your suggestions!
     
  8. Engteacher

    Engteacher Poultry, Poetry, and Prose

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    DH and I were out with the tape measure, stakes, strings, and sledge measuring out and placing our 16X24 outbuilding. We decided to position it in such a way that the run will be out the front and not back of the building. This will mean we can scrape off all the loam and place sand closest to the pop door. The run will continue another 10' out onto the established lawn. This will give them sand where the traffic is busiest and a grassy area to enjoy. We'll also have a door to allow them to range freely under our supervision. Since the garden area is fenced, we can also give the main run a break if the lawn needs a chance to rejuvenate and give them free pickins' in the garden once we've completed the harvest.

    Thanks again for your suggestions. It gave me a whole new way of thinking about the set up.

    Hopefully, we'll have the foundation poured in the next few weeks. Regardless, we have to have a place to house the Wellies which are due in just five months!
     

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