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Chickens prefer sand over bare soil

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by azygous, Sep 18, 2014.

  1. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Recently, I decided to embark on the enormous undertaking of replacing the dirty, dusty sand in my run. This involved many, many wheel barrow loads hauling it out and disposing of it some distance away. It was construction sand plus decomposed sandstone and was as dusty as talcum.

    Then I got out the shop vac and sucked up every last grain and dust particle, leaving just the ugly, ugly packed clay soil, with craters and rocks. As the sand disappeared, so did the chickens. They were spending most of their time outdoors.

    Yesterday, I began hauling the fresh sand in, one wheel barrow load at a time. I got two sections covered in a few inches of sand, and no sooner did that happen than the chickens returned.

    Today, I began unloading the second truck load of sand, and I opened the run so the chickens could go out and free range while I worked. No one wanted to leave. They are all lounging around on the new sand in a section I had finished.

    It's obvious they love their sandy run, and prefer it to bare soil. I prefer it, too. It's been very difficult trying to keep poop picked up when I can't use the litter box scooper.
     
  2. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    I read your post with great interest as I am thinking about putting sand in my run as well. How deep is your sand layer?
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    At present it's about an inch to two inches deep. I've had it six inches deep before this, and that's way more than necessary. As I was letting the depth dwindle over these past two years, anticipating doing this chore, I found that it's actually easier to manage with just a couple inches.

    Deep sand is harder to walk on, too.
     
  4. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    But what happens when the hens are scratching around...don't they get down to the dirt level really quickly? Then what do I do?
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Yes, that is a big problem. I knew the sand would get dusty again real fast unless I figured out how to seal the clay soil somehow. I purchased a product called Dust Locker. Dustlocker.com

    I scraped all the loose dirt and sand up and shoveled it out. Then I went in with the shop vac and sucked up all the fine dust. Then I sprayed the Dust Locker on the hard-packed bare soil to seal it. This stuff seems to be citrus based, at least that's the odor it has. It's water soluble so it's not petroleum based, and it's safe for animals once it dries.

    I had to fill a couple of craters where I removed tree stumps with that dreaded decomposed sandstone. I solved the problem of how to harden those spots so the dirt doesn't get dug up by little chicken feet by pouring water over it that had some cement powder (minus the gravel) mixed in it. Once that dries, it should harden that loose dirt. If your soil is loose and not hard packed like my clay, you might give that a try.
     

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