Coop Run: What's best? Sand, dirt, gravel or pine shavings?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by yorick, Jan 10, 2010.

  1. yorick

    yorick In the Brooder

    Nov 26, 2009
    I've seen a lot of discussions about different kinds of ways to cover the ground of the coop run but not a single topic asking to choose what is best.

    I'm in the process of building my coop (5'x5' coop with a 5'x10' enclosed run) and would like to hear from you guys what you think is the best for a coop run. Here is a few things you should know about my setup:
    - 4 to 5 hens
    - Hens will free range in the enclosed yard when we are home during the day but will be kept locked in the enclosed run when we are not around
    - Yard has lots of bugs, weeds and grass for the to enjoy. There will also be food in the run.
    - I'm building my run with a 6" foundation in expectation of the possibility that I might use pine shavings on the ground
    - Coop will have full roof covering to prevent from getting wet during normal rains but some rain will get in if it is windy

    So, what do you think? Sand, plain dirt, gravel or pine shavings?

  2. Chick-a-roos

    Chick-a-roos Songster

    Jun 3, 2009
    Blue Ridge, GA
    I have a covered run. We had trimmed and cut alot trees so when we used the wood chipper, we decided that would be good to use in the chicken run. So far, since May this has worked really well for us. I have added chips to the run a few times since the chickens keep it chipped even finer! LOL Good luck!
  3. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Sand is best for the run... I've still got to get some sand and mix it with some DE and throw it in the run.
  4. consdrs

    consdrs Songster

    Apr 4, 2008
    Vancouver, WA
    SAND. I have sand in my coop and in my covered run and love it!!
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    "Fix a muddy run" link in my .sig below discusses a lot of these issues of what to put in the run, not just from the perspective of fixing but from *avoiding* [​IMG] Readers' Digest version: organic materials will increase any natural tendency the run may have towards mud, dampness, stink and fly-ey-ness, especially if you are on poorly drained soil and/or do not remove the material as it starts to decompose inot tiny particles.

    Good luck, have fun,


  6. gsim

    gsim Songster

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Coarse sand over gravel for smaller runs or flat runs that get wet. If your run slopes as mine does, it is not quite as critical because it drains away. Mine is around 2000 sq ft so I have added nothing to it because periodic rainfall washes the poop down into the ground, and no matter how much it does rain, it all drains away. Over time organic material like chips or leaves will break down into humus that will hold water. So if the run is flat or in a soggy area, that type of material will eventually get pretty ripe-smelling, especially in hot weather after rains.
  7. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    From the list you posted--sand is the best choice. I would definitely not use gravel or shavings. If your soil drains well you can use wood chips (I get them for free from tree trimmers), but not shavings or straw.
  8. swimmom

    swimmom Songster

    Apr 7, 2009
    Shavings can get stinky. I keep adding more sand to my run, the chickens love to "bathe" in it.

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