bare ground in run....MUD!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by grullablue, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. grullablue

    grullablue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So I just read this article, and found it interesting.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-to-fix-a-muddy-run-chicken-coop

    Currently my run is just bare ground, which gets very muddy. I was reading this article, which talked about bark in the run. I'm thinking like the stuff you see in playgrounds. I could see that...they could still create some holes and reach bare ground for scratching and dust bathing, but the article also talks about sand, and GRAVEL. Really? Does anyone actually use gravel? I'd think it would be hard on their feet, and not helpful for them to scratch and dustbathe. When I think of gravel though, I think of what I have in my horse barn, crushed limestone, which gets quite compacted and hard once it's been walked on enough.

    I'm curious about the wood chips though. Where do you get something like that? And are there some people here reading this who have actually used it? I'm guessing we're not talking MULCH, the prebagged kind you buy in the stores, I guess I would think that stuff may be treated with something... I do buy mulch, the cheap cypress stuff...

    Angie
     
  2. Spikes Chooks

    Spikes Chooks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't use gravel but I do use coarse river sand. There is a wooden edge about 15cm high around the run, filled with the sand. It drains very quickly, is easy to scoop poop up, and never gets muddy or stinking. I'd really reommend it if you can. You might also consider covering the run, or part of it. The main part of mine is covered with polyurethene sheeting, which lets light through but not the heavy rains we often get.
     
  3. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A bare ground run would get REALLY muddy during heavy rains and when the Spring snow melts. For sure add straw, sand, and or wood chips to cover mud and build up the height over time. I even added scrap plywood sheets to the ground initially and just add chips or straw from time to time. You can get a big block of pine chips at Tractor Supply for 5 bucks or you local feed store. In the Summer they may find a spot to dust bathe in the run but since they free range they have plenty of places to bathe outside the run. Most any material will work OK in the run with softer straw or pine chips on top. The idea is to knock down the mud and build up the ground height so the ground will drain away from the run and not have standing water.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. chiknhurder

    chiknhurder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Any organic material you put down is eventually going to compost down and you'll have the same problem again. Sand or gravel makes more sense for the long run.
     
  5. Spikes Chooks

    Spikes Chooks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Agree
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    If you just use sand, it will disappear over time. How long that takes will depend on your unique situation, but it eventually sinks in the mud because of gravity. It’s denser than clay. Even the chickens scratching and mixing it with clay will cause it to settle. Plus if you don’t put some barrier like Spikes Chooks did they’ll just scratch it out of the sides of the run. And the sand has to be high enough to drain to somewhere. If the run is in a low spot, the water doesn’t have anywhere to go.

    If you spread a layer of gravel before you add sand, the gravel will help a lot to keep the sand from disappearing into the mud underneath. But don’t think in terms of crushed limestone or any crushed gravel. It doesn’t happen that often but it’s possible one could cut its foot on the sharp edge and get bumblefoot if that cut gets infected. Think in terms of pea gravel or some sort of gravel from a stream bed that has been smoothed off.

    The chickens are still going to dig holes to take dust baths and will probably dig down to the gravel and mix it with the sand. Some people scoop the poop and rake the sand level every day but some people just let it go. What works best for you will depend on how wet your weather is, how close your neighbors are, how big the run is compared to the number of chickens and all the things that make you and your situation unique.

    Hopefully that helps a bit on the gravel question.
     
  7. chiknhurder

    chiknhurder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ridgerunner make some very good points but, given enough time, Concrete and steel will also eventually return to the earth. Same with sand but it will far outlast bark or mulch. Wood products absorb water and break down quickly. Coarse sand or pea gravel do not. Sand or gravel is cheap and can be easily cleaned, like a cat's litter box. Bark and mulch are not easy to clean other than raking it up and replacing it. If you're putting sand or gravel down for a bed in your run, supply them with an area of taking dust baths or scratching.
     
  8. Shan30

    Shan30 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We solved the worst of our mud problems by digging ditches in the run. I also add bags of maple leaves, hay, straw, whatever I can get my hands on that is not mouldy or poisonous. The ditches have turned into little creeks when it rains and all the organic material keeps the ground from becoming a desolate mud pit. It also allows worms etc. to survive, giving the chickens something to dig up. Depending on the size of your run you might be able to plant things that they don't eat but offer some protection and will hold the ground together. The bottom half of ours never gets muddy as it is full of wild roses, salal, huckleberry bushes, arbutus trees etc.

    Of course every climate is different. Hope you find something that works for you!
     
  9. Shan30

    Shan30 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh another thought! It rains so much here that when houses are built "rock pits" are installed in the yard allowing a place for all that water to go.

    Maybe you could dig a big hole in the middle of the run, run a trench to outside the run that is not as deep as the pit. Drop a drainage pipe in the trench. Fill the pit with rocks up to above where the drainage pipe comes out and then burry everything. This way the "rock pit" will provide a place for all that water to go and when it fills above the height of the pipe it will drain outside the run.

    Does that make sense?
     
  10. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, it does. That's why you continue to add to whatever is in the run much like you would build deep litter in the coop.

    I add anything organic to the run - including sawdust, wood chips, leaves, straw, weeds and trimmings from the garden, etc. I continue to add it throughout the year, more when it's wet. We've just had a good rain and I'll throw in some of the leaves I bagged and stored away in the fall to the run this afternoon.

    I find in the warmer months the dirt in the run is somewhat friable - almost like compost - and the organic matter encourages those leaf-eating bugs and worms that the hens like to snack on. Win-Win!
     

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