Constant wet, muddy run!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by scalci, Jul 8, 2019.

  1. scalci

    scalci Chirping

    Apr 18, 2014
    Rhode Island

    I have been researching what to do with my chicken run for the last year on and off and it all seems to be a bit overwhelming...

    I have had chickens for 8 years, currently I have 5 hens ranging from 2-8 years old. I have a small run that they spend most of their time in and then a bigger run that I let them out in a few times a week.

    3 years ago i moved my chickens to the new house and the coop is in a shaded area of the yard. Ever since then the run stinks terribly, especially in the summer. I’m assuming because it is always fairly wet back there and then the heat just makes the smell terrible.

    The wetness/muckiness of the run is starting to drive me nuts too. There’s always mud/muck all inside the coop, covering the eggs, just everywhere (much worse than ever before) obviously chickens can be disgusting creatures but the first 5 years of having chickens in a different area of the previous yards was nothing like this! And it doesn’t matter what I use inside the coop for bedding and i the nesting boxes, no matter what poopy/muck just ends up everywhere.

    I am planning on replacing the soil very soon (I want the current soil for my gardens anyway because of the severe nitrate deficiency of the soil here) so I figured I would put new substrate in. My dad wants to put gravel/pea gravel down under the coop (their favorite place to hang out) which I am not a fan of at all. I don’t see that working out well for the girls, and in the research I have done it seems that although it does wonders for drainage, the chickens don’t seem to love walking on it.

    I have also looked into types of sand or combinations of sand/gravel/dirt. Honestly I am a bit overwhelmed by the different options and opinions of what to do, so I figured that having a discussion of my own may help me get better insight.

    Again, my 2 concerns are keeping the smell down and reducing the constant wet/mucky state the run is always in.

    Any suggestions you may have a greatly appreciated!! Thank you!!
  2. Sagey_7878

    Sagey_7878 Songster

    Sep 1, 2017
    Can you take some photos please?
    blackdog043 likes this.
  3. blackdog043

    blackdog043 Crowing

    Feb 19, 2017
    Charlotte, NC
    Tree trimming wood chips or plain non dyed mulch should help your situation. Make it about 4 - 5 inches deep. This will make it like a mulched flower bed, add more wood chips as needed. The chicken poop will breakdown into the mulch, it should not stink or draw flies. Sand, gravel or dirt will not help your problem.

    I use wood chips, mulch, yard/garden waste, some straw, dried leaves...

    PotatoHead and Ghosty like this.
  4. PotatoHead

    PotatoHead Songster

    May 18, 2018
    North Central Idaho
    My Coop
    I have a similar setup to blackdog043 it drains well and has no smell.

    I roto-tilled the soil to at least 12” deep and mixed in pine shavings, hay, leaves, pine needles/cones, grass clippings, and whatever yard/compostable materials I could.

    I love how low maintenance free this setup is. Forget scooping chicken poop! I turn 8-12” over with a pitchfork every month or so and add more yard debris as needed. That’s it...the chickens do the rest.
  5. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    My Coop
    While deep litter, shown above, works well to provide drainage, all bedding requires good ground drainage in order to work optimally. Not sure what kind of soil you have, or if the run is sitting on a low spot, or maybe there's ground water seeping up where the run is, if it's always wet? But if drainage isn't resolved you'll probably have less than satisfying results.
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    DobieLover likes this.
  7. flyin-lowe

    flyin-lowe Songster

    Jan 24, 2016
    I always just throw a layer of lawn clippings, leaves, or straw, or whatever else I have on hand into my run. Depending on what I put in and how much I put in I leave it as is until it gets back down to mud again. Once it breaks down and I start to see mud I put another layer in. The bedding pretty much breaks completely down and I have been doing this for several years and never had to empty or clean out the run.
  8. jlwquilter

    jlwquilter Songster

    Apr 30, 2019
    West Palm Beach FL
    I had a similar issue. My land is low, water table is high, and in the summer in SE Florida it rains. A lot. And we’ve not even had a tropical storm yet this year. I was getting standing water already.

    I took the advice here. I get mulch from a tree service guy for free. I took some that was mainly leafy stuff and put down a 2-3” layer. Then I took mulch that was wood chips and put that on top for another 3-4”.

    It covered all the grass though but I had already started grazing boxes. I also made a wire enclosure that abuts to my run - it’s chicken wire held up by those push in stakes you can buy everywhere - that I can move easily and this allows me to let the hens into it for grass free ranging. I do it only when I can supervise as it’s not predator proof at all.

    It’s poured several times and I no longer have mucky mud for the chickens or me to walk on. They also love digging in the mulch for bugs and whatnot. It’s worked well and I’m very pleased.

    I have sand in the coop. In the morning I scrape the poop off the roosting boards - takes only a few minutes- and then rake the poop out into the run.

    I also use pdz on the roost boards - a light sprinkle - and a medium sprinkle on the sand under the boards.

    My coop and run do not smell and are no longer muddy.

    Hope this helps! Good luck!
  9. DobieLover

    DobieLover Easily distracted by chickens

    Jul 23, 2018
    Apalachin, NY
    My Coop
    Providing pictures of your run from far enough away to get the lay of the land will help. You need to divert water away from the run. Obviously, if the run is in a low spot, you need to either move it to a high spot or build up the grade so it is higher than the surrounding land all the way around so it will drain off. THEN put in a nice thick layer of wood chips for litter.
    blackdog043, Meg-in-MT and aart like this.

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