Cleaning the run?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Suzannah, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. Suzannah

    Suzannah Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 18, 2010
    Here is a stupid question...

    My three chooks are in a partially covered run that is about 10 x 5 (estimate). They have a short roost and a little doghouse that they sleep in in cold weather and lay eggs in.

    How do I clean their run? It seems like an odd question, but the run is dirt, and I am not sure how to get the poop up. I am not going out there with a kitty litter scoop!!

    It just poured here last night, so it is a non-issue for the uncovered part of the run, which is mostly where they poo (and in the doghouse, but that's easy enough).

    I do not let them free range outside of the pen b/c we have two hawk families (probably five hawks, total, including babies) who would love to eat the girls.
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Rake your run maybe.
  3. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    That's one reason why many people put something down in their runs over plain dirt, sand for example. I do go out and pick up droppings from the sand with a reptile litter scoop taped to a long handle, and last year while my hens were broody, I sifted most of the sand in the runs through a colander. I am glad the neighbors couldn't see me doing that, though. They think I'm weird enough as it is!

    A muddy run is not the best thing for chickens' feet. They can get clumps of mud stuck on their toes (toe balls) that can interfere with walking, and if the wet conditions persist, it becomes a real breeding ground for bacteria. That can help turn a small abrasion on the foot into a bumblefoot infection.

    The other thing is that wet chicken droppings start to stink pretty badly.

    In one of my runs I use leaves that I rake up from our property and bag. I dump a bag or two in the run (the chickens love scratching under each and every leaf, looking for hidden treasure). When the leaves get good and picked over, I rake them up, dispose of them, and put in a couple of fresh bags. My run is roofed, though, so the leaves stay mostly dry.
  4. pontoosuc

    pontoosuc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2010
    Richmond, MA
    Next fall I'm going to rake up more bags of leaves for winter. The girls love fresh leaves and it is a wonderful "bedding' for the run. My run is partially covered and can get pretty muddy. This spring/summer I'm planning to put down sand.
  5. michickenwrangler

    michickenwrangler To Finish Is To Win

    Jun 8, 2008
    NE Michigan
    My husband found an adjustable rake somewhere (adjusts how far apart the tines are). I rake the run, scoop up the stuff in a flat shovel and put it in the compost pile. I then sprinkle DE around the run.

    I live in northern Michigan and you'd be surprised by how quickly the poop decomposes. Because for 6 months out of the year it FREEZES and it is hard to chip off the ground. There's a lot more in winter than in summer because chicken poop does decompose rapidly.
  6. Suzannah

    Suzannah Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 18, 2010
    I do rake, and I like the idea of adding leaves or the ubiquitous pine straw. I bed their dog house with pine straw, and they love it. Sometimes raking just drags the poo the length of the run. and seems a bit pointless. Sand also seems a bit pointless (and expensive), unless you happen to have access to a sand quarry and free sand!!

    As for being wet, there is not a lot I can do about that when it rains. The open part is sheltered by trees, and it has good drainage, so it's not mucky, just wet. The girls take lots of dust baths under their roost, and they don't seem to get super muddy for long. we just had a ten-day stretch with no rain, so they have been nice and dry for awhile.

    Oh, and I do add DE, too. The seem to like that also.

    Thanks for the suggestions!
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2011
  7. SundownWaterfowl

    SundownWaterfowl Overrun With Chickens

    I use lots of sand down in the run. Then when it gets dirty, just shovel up the dirty sand and put new down.
  8. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Sand isn't that expensive, my hubby got a load in his pickup for around $15.00. I have tried everything, and before my run was covered, it was muddy and stinky.

    I rake up the poop, and I'm sure I lose a little sand when doing that, but once a year, hubby will bring in a load of fresh sand in the spring.

    I also throw in some fall leaves, my chickens love different things to scratch in. Just to make life interesting for them......They do free range, except during the winter months. so I don't use extras like leaves in the run during the spring/summer/fall.
  9. TeriNick50

    TeriNick50 Out Of The Brooder

    June 26, 2011 marks the 2nd anniversary of our backyard flock of four.
    We have a covered run.
    I've raked it out a total of two times.
    It does not smell.
    During the winter months, the dirt floor is covered with straw.
    The girls love scratching through it.
    Their activity helps to break down their poop.
    During the summer months, the dirt floor is covered with grass clippings.
    And in the fall, leaves.
    This spring, I may "dig out" some of the floor to use in the garden ... MAYBE.
    It depends on how ambitious I feel [​IMG]
  10. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    Sand drains better than dirt and dries out faster. It's also easier to rake. So, for raking up chicken poop, I think it's better than dirt.

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