Bedding - Is Hay OK?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Stella1964, Sep 13, 2008.

  1. Stella1964

    Stella1964 Songster

    Mar 30, 2008
    Ontario Canada
    When my DH built the outdoor run, he didn't believe when I said it was too small and all that nice sod he planted for the chickens would be torn up in a matter of weeks.

    Well, it's all mud now, no grass is left, and we don't have the immediate space to create another run. So I was wondering what kind of "flooring" I could put on top of the muddy run so that they're not constantly walking/eating in their poop and getting dirty etc. I was thinking of throwing down a layer of hay because it's lofty (for a while anyway) and it won't hurt them if they eat it.

  2. wyliefarms

    wyliefarms Songster

    Aug 19, 2008
    We just put sand in our outdoor run. It has made a world of difference.
  3. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Most people don't put anything down in the run - it's just dirt. But, I've heard of people putting shavings down (never cedar), straw (don't like it because it has hollow stems and can harbor mites, plus it cakes down when wet and poopy), hay (I've got a small area of hay on the floor of my run only because my goats share the run and they are messy eaters. Once the hay falls on the ground, the goats seldom touch it again but my chickens love to scratch through it so I leave it for a while and then clean it up.), bark, sand (I like that idea) and leaves.

    Oh, someone put pallets down and covered them with wood so the chickens could walk on the wood, but their run was underwater part of the time due to where they lived.

    I don't think you really need anything unless your run is really muddy or wet and you want a dry place for your chickens to be able to stand.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Shavings, straw and hay will fairly quickly become part of the mud, and begin decomposing, and make the mud *worse* (deeper, wetter, stinkier).

    Best thing is sand or a sand/gravel mix ("roadbase" or whatever it is called in your area), because they allow water to drain down away and they don't break down or turn into mud.

    Largeish coarse wood chips, like you might use for mulch, are sort of an intermediate solution - they will *eventually* break down and contribute to making a wet stinkin' mudpit, but not nearly as quickly as finer organic materials will. So they may be an acceptible short-term solution, provided you are prepared to shovel 'em out and replace with something else when they begin to get skanky.

    Another thing that will help is to divert water away from the run as much as possible - put gutters on that side of the roof if it tilts towards the run, make sure downspout water runs well away from the run, and trench around it if it'd help divert overland runoff.

    Good luck,

  5. CityGirlintheCountry

    CityGirlintheCountry Green Eggs and Hamlet

    Jul 7, 2007
    Middle TN
    I ignorantly put shavings down in mine once the grass was gone. It wasn't a problem this summer when we had no rain. Once we started getting wet again it went bad fast. It was a huge stinky mess. Blech. I finally got it shoveled out and I'm back down to dirt again. Stay away from the shavings! [​IMG]

    I'm going to add sand to mine to help out with the damp. Actually, I think I'm going to try reseeding the old run. I can keep the girls out of it long enough for the grass to take root.
  6. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    Quote:I agree with this post.
  7. Omran

    Omran Songster

    Jul 26, 2008
    Bagdad KY
    I know you might not like the Idea,but in this case I would put rocks(Gravel) then you don,t have to deal with mud anymore.
  8. Stella1964

    Stella1964 Songster

    Mar 30, 2008
    Ontario Canada
    Wouldn't that hurt their feet after a short while?
  9. FarmerMack

    FarmerMack Songster

    Oct 28, 2007
    Stanford, KY
    Quote:I've put in pine shavings before but within a day they have been scratched into the dirt floor of the run. I gave up on putting anything in the area since it doesn't have drainage issues. I look at it like I am organic matter for the worms. the 11 tillers [​IMG] i mean hens will scratch into the ground for me

    Farmer Mack [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2008
  10. wyliefarms

    wyliefarms Songster

    Aug 19, 2008
    We have had 4 days of rain here. Probably around 10 inches of rain so far. We have standing water everywhere. Flood warnings too, oh boy!
    Today is the remains of "Ike".

    My outdoor runs with the new sand is doing wonderfully! There is not any standing water so the hens aren't all muddy.

    I am very pleased!

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