Chicken run is a Mud pit


May 7, 2019
Our chicken run has been a mud pit for days. We had major storms for a week straight. It’s so wet and muddy, and we have a roof on top so it’s shaded pretty much the entire day. We live in northern MN so our weather is not going to be getting very warm anymore, so it definitely will not dry out. We really need to fix this immediately, the run smells horrendous and the chickens can’t dust bath anymore and they’re getting covered in mud.
Any solutions to this? We wanted to add sand in but I’ve been reading that we shouldn’t add sand to a wet run, so we’re at a loss on how to dry up our run.
Please help! Thank you!
The problem you have is with soil drainage. Here are a couple of options: Option 1 - If your run area is not too large, you might provide a roof over it so that rain and snow are never a problem. Option 2 -- cover the run floor in stone or bricks and then add straw on top so the chickens don't always stand on a hard surface all day long. Option 3 -- grade the soil so that rain water drains out of the run area. Option 4 -- cover the floor in straw and add more straw as it get's compacted. Option 4 is the easiest but it's also a temporary solution. You'll always be adding straw. Hope that helps.
Can you muck it out and concrete the floor? Then use deep litter method. Make sure your roofing extends a foot or more beyond the top of the run. If you have a prevailing wind direction put clear plastic covering on that side of the run for more warmth and dryness in the winter.
Catwhisperer, I think you could as long as you grade the concrete to channel water out of the run. I decided to both cover my run and lay down bricks. I have a relatively small flock and the area I needed to cover was modest. Doing all of this was a royal PITA but it solved the problem permanently.No mud. I throw down pine shavings on the stone to absorb the poop and periodically replace them. The old shavings and poop get composted and placed in the garden.
Quickest immediate fix is to throw anything available in there just to get the floor level higher than the water - if you have pallets lying around, those are an option, otherwise any combo of wood or plant products, hay, shavings, whatever. Once the immediate issue is fixed, you need to consider the long term options, whether you want to do deep litter or build up sand or some other substrate, as well as how to fix the drainage issue (assuming there's one, unless this is just an unusually heavy amount of rain or flooding) in that location.
Can you post a picture of your coop and run?
What are you using in the run or is it just dirt?
Do you normally have a problem with drainage/water in the run?

Without knowing the size and any drainage issues with your run, I would put natural(undyed) wood chips in the run, make it 3 - 4 inches deep. Have you ever walked on a mulched flower bed? They're not usually soggy. That's what your run will be like and the chicken poop will break down into the mulch. If your run is big enough, you can add some yard/garden waste, leaves, bigger pieces of wood... A nice mixture of different stuff, so it doesn't get compacted down.

Here's my run, after I added yard and garden waste.
Just replied to another similar thread:
Pics, please?
Tarp might not be enough, if the runoff from said tarp(and surrounding area) is making it's way into your run and puddling there. There can be many ways to divert any water from making it's way into the run depending on the surrounding area.
Gutters, berms, trenches, swales.
Look outside the 'box' of your run first.
Best way to 'see' this is to get your rain gear on and go out when it's pouring to see where the water goes.

That said, I'll repeat wood chips are much better than hay.
My runs have semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are the best base material, IMO.
I have an area of my run that gets a bit soggy often. I use straw. The hens love it when I put more out and will do all the spreading for me. Also, I have an outdoor shelter that stays dry in the hardest rain because it is covered with plastic on the 3 weather sides of it. This part doesn't have to be that big, it's just a place to maintain a dusting bath. My hens love it and will run to it whenever it rains.

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