Dirt floor for now; want sand or straw?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by krhayden, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. krhayden

    krhayden New Egg

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    We have a small, rather cheap coop for 4 chickens. We let them out to free range in our yard almost every day for about an hour. We have pine shavings up in their roosting area and egg box but the floor is just the earth (clay soil which can get muddy when it gets wet). I have no problem cleaning the poop from the upper part of the coop that has the pine shavings, but it so hard to clean the earth and often the poop just blends in with the dirt floor. Please help with suggestions - we tried sand once but it didn't work. I just read about putting gravel in first under the sand to help with drainage. We have not tried that yet. For the winter we were thinking about putting down straw or hay. Any suggestions? Thanks! Also, one more thing - sometimes our eggs are completely clean and sometime they are very dirty. We never know if it is poop on the eggs or dirt from the floor of the run. Is it normal for them to poop in the egg box sometimes?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I have a dirt floor coop, and have had others over the years, always dirt. Wouldn't have any other kind. I use pine shavings or hay on the dirt and rake it all out once a year. The poop dries pretty quickly. A little scratch or BOSS will cause them to turn it for me. There is an area where the rain comes in if it's really stormy. When that happens, I throw a little pine shavings or pelletized lime down if needed to help it dry, which is also what I do if I notice any odor. I never have mud or odor problems, though being in the south, it is a rather "airish" coop.

    We raised the area of dirt about 6" before we built this coop so it would drain well. It sounds like your problem is not the dirt or clay but drainage. Perhaps you could add dirt to build it up, or trench around it on the outside so it will drain.

    I have a crippled hen who sometimes sleeps in a nest box and poops. But it really shouldn't happen if they sleep on the roosts. How wide are your roosts? Mine are the flat side of a 2x4, though a nice fat branch works as well. They don't like narrow poles, though. Their feet don't curl around something narrow like many birds' do. If there is any draft on the roost area, this might also make them want to sleep in the nests. Some hens just do, and have to be retrained by closing off the nests at night. Of course if you have a breed like Silkies who don't usually roost, that's another story. If you have good sized large fowl, they may want something even wider to sleep on than a 2x4, also. Trying to think of possible causes here....
     
  3. kuntrygirl

    kuntrygirl Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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    I have sand runs and I love them.
     
  4. c2chicks

    c2chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    If your floor stays dry, I would use sand. You didn't say why the sand didn't work for you. If it gets wet from blowing snow/rain, you might want something that has more "fluff". Our coop/run floor stays dry. We laid down a horse stall mat (very heavy rubber), put the coop on top of that, then put in 4" of sand. The stall mat keeps the ground water from seeping up and getting the bedding wet. So far--so good!
     
  5. JanetS

    JanetS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have sand in our run. Love it. Wouldn't have anything else.
     
  6. wekiva bird

    wekiva bird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Any of ya'll have photos of your sand area?
     
  7. kuntrygirl

    kuntrygirl Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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  8. krhayden

    krhayden New Egg

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    Apr 3, 2012
    Thank you for your reply! First time I have hear about the horse mat - what a great idea! Will look into that. Yes, I think the drainage in our area is bad so the sand just got clumpy. Plus, I feel like our chickens poop a lot!! Another time I want to explore what people do with the poop. Currently we are just throwing ours in plastic grocery bags and it is going to landfill. :( Don't want to do this long term.
     
  9. krhayden

    krhayden New Egg

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    Thank you for your advice. They are just on the roosts that came with the coop - not as narrow as a pole but not as wide as 2x4. Will look into changing this. It might be drafty too - there is a window (with chicken wire) but nothing to cover that. We have the egg box open right off the roosting area - so I guess she would close that up at night.
     
  10. wekiva bird

    wekiva bird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for showing your runs, and your pretty birds.
     

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