Complaints with Sand

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cstronks, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. cstronks

    cstronks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have sand in my outside run of my hen house and I can say that I am not impressed. The sand did well in the summer, but in the fall/winter it got messy. To start, leaves and all other junk fall in and get crushed into it, making it appear pretty gross. Secondly, unless you are out with your chickens all day (something that everybody with a day job cannot do), the poo will break down into the sand and cause a terrible odor. I for one can say that at first sand looks awesome, but after a few months, YUCK. I mean really, I was shoveling some out a couple of weeks ago to add a new layer, and it was disgusting! I mean it was all different colors, slushy, and incredibly heavy. Unless you are prepared to constantly bury mess by buying more sand, then this is a pretty unattractive method. I can't really describe my level of disappointment here. I build my coop around this time last year, and I was new to it, so I took a ton of the advice on sand here on BYC. I made a bunch of small errors in my coop (making the roof too low, small door, too much materials, but of all those things, sand was the absolute worst!! I will be changing to either dirt or wood chips over the winter, as I cannot bear the sight of this sand in my yard any longer!

    Moral of the story - Sand looks nice for a couple of months. After that, it looks ugly. It smells, needs constant maintenance, and is costly when it comes to constantly adding new sand. I am not very exciting to move this. A small 5 x 5 run with a 8 inch sand floor is a lot of weight, and I am treating the stuff as borderline toxic since it is thoroughly mixed with chicken poo. Do not be fooled. Sand is no kitty litter. If you are contemplating sand, take a few things into account. Cost, aesthetics, and health. The thought of my chickens sand bathing in this muck any longer doesn't fly with me. Can't wait to get rid of this stuff!

    Again, this is just an opinion! If anybody disagrees, then feel free to! But I just want to say that there is a ton of hullabaloo over sand, and it does not remotely live up to these standards. So think again on sand...that is all I have to say!
     
  2. sn0wwhite

    sn0wwhite Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just out of curiosity because I'm new to this, did your sand have a roof over it?
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. jossome

    jossome Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a couple of questions, because I'm new and I have only had my sand for a few months now. Did you get river sand, or regular sand? Meaning, course sand... or fine sand that you would find in a playground/beach? Was it covered from the elements?

    I used river sand, and so far its been awesome, it doesn't clump up, nothing really breaks down into it. But I also have mine mostly covered.

    Just curious :)

    What are you going to switch to?

    Thanks for your post!
     
  4. cstronks

    cstronks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Covering it would definitely help. The big problem with sand is that once it gets wet, it likes to stay that way for a long time...especially during humid summer days. It will then clump up and add to the mess. Unfortunately for me, it wasn't economical to cover the entire run. The sand I used was a thicker grain contracting sand (although it wasn't labelled as such. It was not play sand and although it was sifted, it contained gravel and other small debris. For a while I thought it was ocean sand because there appeared to be pieces of crushed shell, but my chickens picked those out, so who knows.

    I am going to switch to either dirt (buy about 6 yards of topsoil and then pact it down a little, or I will switch to mulch. I have an abundance of wood chips, which are actually visually appealing, that I can toss in there. Also, I have been wanting for a long while to add plants and bushes to the run for the birds to forage, and that is not possible with sand. Plants don't take well to it, lol! I'm not awfully worried about mud and muck, because the sand is gross looking, so how much worse could that be. Also, the sand heats up in the sun, and I'm not sure how the birds liked that. Soil will stay cool and drains alright. I'm really excited to do this. Sand was just a bad idea.

    I wish I could test the sand to see what kind of bacteria and such have grown in it. I mean, I tried to stay on top of it as much as possible, but I couldn't be out there 24/7. The chicken house is spotless, but the run looks gross, so things should improve when I make the switch.
     
  5. Mass Mike

    Mass Mike Out Of The Brooder

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    we use coarse sand in our (covered) run with a light layer of hay over it. The sand has done well with draining water and the hay, once it gets a bit nasty, is put on the compost pile for next years garden. That system has worked well for us for a number of years. The nice part about using the hay over the sand is that the run can be cleaned all throughout the winter vs having a big mess to worry about after the March thaw.
     
  6. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    That sucks. Sorry you're having so much trouble. We use sand and it works great. The reason it works is that the runs are sloped. If they weren't draining, owing to the slight drop from East to West, we'd be using pavers or concrete because our topsoil consists of about 6" of loess over what is known in these parts as `fire clay' and during the Spring thaw we used to put out 16' 2"x14" `planks - so as not to have our boots sucked off in the muck as we walked out back. We have big rocks along the West (low side) of run and rake the rain washed sand back up the run after it dries out (and when drained it dries out fast - more surface area).

    It really doesn't matter what one uses if the drainage is adequate.

    Good luck!
     
  7. c2chicks

    c2chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sand has worked great for us, as well. We have a large, uncovered run with 4-6" of sand. Have had it for over a year, it drains well and there's no smell. You say your run (op) is 5 x 5', that's only 25 sq ft. How many birds do you have in there? According to most folks here on BYC, that's enough room for 2 chickens . If you have many more than that, then the sand can't really absorb (support) that much waste.
     
  8. cstronks

    cstronks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The run is almost 30 sq. feet, and I have five birds. They free range a good amount so the run is just kind of a stand in. Trust me, the sand is not in poor shape because it is overrun with chickens...it is in bad shape because rain, dirt, food, etc that has all accumulated in the sand has kind of gotten mixed in.

    I understand that a lot of people have good luck with sand, and that is great to hear, but mine just hasnt worked. It is drained properly, it is plenty deep, it isn't bad sand. It was just not in the cards for me. Something like wood chips will work much better.

    Also, for c2chicks - 12.5 sq feet per bird...really? Where did you get that number. This is a forum, so there are a ton of opinions (such as my opinion on sand). A lot of people say a lot of different things. In a residential area, a chicken palace cannot be built, so for five birds I can't have a compound. Trust me, these birds have more than enough room. Standards vary by what people say, but 12.5 sq feet per bird does not sound right. I'm sure you can link an article saying that 10 sq feet is the right size, but I can link one that says 5 sq feet of run space is appropriate. I have read a lot, and that is by far the highest estimate I have ever seen on this forum.
     
  9. sn0wwhite

    sn0wwhite Chillin' With My Peeps

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    One of the things I love about keeping chickens is what someone told me, "the chickens don't care, they just want treats." So the decisions about what to use for a coop, for floors, for materials all get to work with what works best for us as keepers. I hear lots of people love deep litter, but that's just not for me. It's good to hear what works and when it doesn't, why, so that we can all use that information to make choices about our set up.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences!
     
  10. cstronks

    cstronks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have heard of deep litter, but my coop isn't very well equipped for it. I think coops are easier than the run. To each their own though!
     

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