Cleaning the run

Advertisement Purina Flock Layer


7 Years
Oct 5, 2012
Have a newbie question. Starting to look at seeing up the run and have access to a few large rolls of chain link fence and the accompanying posts.

Have enough to make an approximately 600 square foot run 20x30. With 6 birds in it how often would I have to clean it? Weekly, monthly, every few months?
Good ?. We are building ours 16x16 with the coop being 8x8 of it. We have 10 chicks. I have no idea on how to do any of this either.
I don't clean the outside run, mine is just dirt (was grass, but chickens took care of that). if I place leaves, grass, etc in there for them to peck at, they move it around, rain takes care of poop. No smells either. Unless you just want it to be kept clear completely, rake it?
We have sand in our run and we clean it every day! Only takes about 10 minutes. This is what we use.

I've been reading about the sand method... but saw it's not playground sand. What kind do you use and where do you pick yours up?
We use construction (yellow) sand that we got from a local business. Here's some pictures I took recently when we bought some new sand to refresh
the coop and run.

I'm not a fan of sand (except for sand-bathing containers), although many BYC members swear by it and have good luck with it. I live in a very windy and dry climate and do not want to see any more sand, dirt, or clay than I already see around town naturally. My chicks are now 8 weeks old and have been in their coop and run for almost 4 weeks. I started with pine shavings in their brooder and and because I had a bag of shavings left, dumped it in the coop and run for our first trial bedding outside. What a mess in the run! It blows around and gets into everything and gets tracked around the yard and even back into my house on the dog and on our clothes, shoes. On a smaller part of the run, we put 100% natural pine bark mulch. It looks nice and woodsy and coordinates with the rest of our backyard landscaping. My chickens have been using the run for almost 4 weeks and I haven't even had to think about cleaning the run - neither the pine shavings or mulch areas. It seems that the poop just gets covered up or disintegrates into the pine shavings and pine bark mulch. I'm sure eventually it might get gross or smelly and then I'll clean it out. I have even thrown cantaloupe, cabbage, lettuce, corn, etc. in the run and after a day, there's nothing to be seen or found (except the cantaloupe rind or a dried up corn cob). When ready, we'll cover or remove the existing shavings and use the pine bark mulch exclusively throughout the run. We bought 100% organic with nothing added to it from a big box store. I think a lot of the choice of bedding for run and how much you clean depends on your environment, weather, and setting AND what you feel comfortable with. In the coop, the shavings work better and since they sleep all huddled on the floor in one spot, I clean the pine shavings and poop out every 2-3 days or so. I'm going to try Sweet PDZ granular in the coop though to make it easier to collect the poop only. I'm putting it off since they're still sleeping huddled on the floor and I assume pine shavings are more comfortable than granules, but I'm ready to say bye-bye to shavings.
With six chickens in a run that size, you will never need to clean it. Their poop will be well spread out. If for some reason it starts to build up, just toss some corn or some sort of food on it and they will spread it for you with their scratching.

The only problem you might have is that if the run gets wet, it could smell some and it’s hard to keep a run that size dry. Poop build-up will not be a problem but wet can be. If you can at all locate your run on high ground where rainwater run-off does not flow into the run or build swales or berms to direct rainwater run-off away from your run. Slope your coop roof so rainwater does not go into the run or use gutters to direct water away from the run. Try real hard to have the run high enough that any water that gets in has a lower place to drain to.

Part of your success will depend on what type of soil you have. The chickens will dig holes in it when they dust bathe. If you have clay, those will hold water. If it is sandy, the water will drain right out. That’s why sand can be so successful. If it is high enough so the water has someplace to go, it drains really well. But the water has to have someplace to drain to. If it is in a low spot, filling it with enough sand to get it higher is a huge help.
I agree - with 6 chickens it will not need cleaning, per se.

We add grass and leaves periodically and my son will remove older grass/leaves and throw it in the compost.
Lots of good chicken droppings in it.

Refresh and it's good to go. Our coop and run is in the woods so that helps with the natural refuse.

In the coop we use sand - very convenient.

We have 12 chickens
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We do use litter in our uncovered run because it would get too muddy if we didn't. We use hay because chickens like to eat the seeds in it when it's fresh. I turn it with a rake daily to keep it fluffy so it won't matt up. Sand would be easy, but I prefer to have them on organic matter that they can grind into mulch for our veg garden beds. In summer when it decomposes quickly, I shovel dirty litter onto a veg bed every few weeks and add fresh hay to the run.

There are many different ways to maintain your coop and runs. You just need to figure out what works best for you.

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