Did I mess up? potting soil in chicken run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by nuzmomto2, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. nuzmomto2

    nuzmomto2 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 1, 2010
    Hickory, PA
    We finished a small "winter run" for our chicken. The dirt level was low, so we added some mulch from a 2 year old mulch pile and some loose dirt (hard to find here in PA, we have mostly clay soil). I also found a bag of organic potting soil and "regular" potting soil that was just going to sit in the shed all winter, so I threw those in there. The "regular" potting soil has TONS of perlite in it. Now I'm not sure what to do.

    Will perlite harm our chickens?
    Do I need to scoop out as much as I can?
    Can I add some soil or sand on top of it?
    Is it ok the way it is?

    I was orginially going to plant grass but have since learned that it won't last anyways, so I don't believe i will. This run is about 8'x8'. They have a larger "temporary" run on the other side of the coop. This run is covered and ultra-secure and we are planning on using it in the winter and on days when we're gone all day.

    We have 4 hens and 1 rooster and a 8' x 12' indoor coop.
  2. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    Good news. I did some googling and found this study:


    Perlite apparently is not toxic to chickens. Whew!

    You have a couple of options. You could go ahead and plant grass, and alternate runs to allow the grass some recovery time. You could also put down a couple of inches of sand on top of the dirt and go with that. I have sand in my runs and really like it. It's easy to clean using a reptile litter scoop that I duct taped to a long handle, and the sand coats and dries out the poo essentially eliminating odors.
  3. 6chickens in St. Charles

    6chickens in St. Charles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    St. Charles, IL
    I watched my 2 broody's feeding the chicks yesterday with my husband, and witnessed EXTREME choosiness among what the birds pick up, show their momma's, and are approved to eat. For instance, both momma's nix the "rolly poly pillbugs" but approve of spiders. A big spidery bug was brought before the momma, DH says "oh thats a bee assassin" and we could tell the chick really wanted it, but momma said no, so it dutifully put the bug back. All the other chicks sort of whined about it too, but apparrently there's "things we can eat, and things we can't eat" rules among chickens.

    About 2 years ago our Silkie pooped out bits of purple crayon and a hotwheels tire, but I think that's not the norm. Now she's almost 3 years old and as picky as the rest, AND she's a serious digger/forager! Our birds go to bed with gullets so full they stick out beside themselves, and sometimes the gullet contents are still moving. I hope chickens are also smart enough to choose whether perlite is "things we can't eat".

    so, I guess I hope my story will help you feel better about it. Your intentions are awesomely rich for your birds, and I bet they'll be smart enough to forage through the perlite and only eat the bugs. Only the right bugs!
  4. Swampwood

    Swampwood Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2010
    Krotz Springs, LA
    Its going to get sloppy though:p

    Bags of sand at Walmrt or Lowes
  5. nuzmomto2

    nuzmomto2 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 1, 2010
    Hickory, PA
    You guys ROCK!!!!! Thanks so much for the replies. I feel much better about it.

    I think we'll probably put sand on top and maybe I'll do grass in a planter of sorts and rotate it in and out. It might also be possible to make the "temporary" run more of a permanent/secure run and rotate between them also. Either way, at least I don't have to try to scoop the perlite out - phew.

    Swampwood - would you say it's going to get sloppy with Chicken droppings or rain? It's raised and in a weather protected area of the barn and under cover. I think it will be a nice area for them when it's a sunny winter day, but snow on the ground everywhere else. I'm liking the idea of adding sand to help with drying out the poo and for easier scooping. I think I was a bit confusing when I said the ground was low - it isn't "low" it was about level with the surrounding ground. We wanted it raised and that's why we added the mulch and soil. Maybe someday I'll get around to posting pictures of the coop and yard [​IMG]
  6. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    I'm a firm believer that chickens won't eat anything that is going to kill them. I've had them stick their heads in a bucket of laytex paint that is "suppose" to kll them. Other than flinging paint everywhere, they are fine. They have also eaten styrofoam insulation.
  7. 8HesperiaChickens

    8HesperiaChickens Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 5, 2009
    Perlite is nothing more than volcanic rock that has been heated and popped...a process similar to popping popcorn. Shouldn't be a problem at all.
  8. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    Did you check the labels on the potting mix, some contain time release fertilizers, etc. ? I wouldn't want chickens to have a go at that. Usually potting soils, etc. are full of fungus gnats, so that would be a treat for the flock, if they can catch them.
  9. nuzmomto2

    nuzmomto2 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 1, 2010
    Hickory, PA
    Quote:Very good point. I purchased it off of a local greenhouse and they make their own mix. Right down to drying (baking) their own soil and all. I am pretty sure that it doesn't have any fertilizers as I always needed to add it to it when I use it. But, I guess I'm not certain. I think I'll call them and double check. Thanks for bringing that up.
  10. holysmokinkitty

    holysmokinkitty Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 19, 2016
    B.C. Canada
    Thank you for the question. We have very similar housing circumstances nd the permits thing concerned me... I was also wondering what to do with the lack of grass. Seeing as I can't plant in the run they eat it to fast! The rotating planters is a great idea. Loving the sand idea too as the ducks make for a muddy time! Thank you all you are so helpfu!

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