Dirt in Run?

colleenschicken

Hatching
Jun 22, 2016
8
0
7
Hi, we built our chicken coop and run this year. We put the run on grass that now is mostly gone. I don't know what i should use for substrate, any suggestions.
 

WiddleChix

Chirping
Jul 15, 2016
166
12
74
California
I just have dirt in my run, the chickens don't mind and even if their was grass they'd just eat it! :p

As for cleanup in the coop I just rake it about one every 1-2 weeks.
 

henless

Crowing
7 Years
Nov 20, 2013
1,613
1,035
282
Northeast Texas Zone 8B
My Coop
My Coop
The only way to keep grass in a run is to build some grazing panels. Make a square or rectangle out of wood and screw hardware cloth on one side. Lay this down over grass or sow some seed under it. The chickens will eat the grass as it grows up through the wire, but they can't dig up the roots.

I put leaves, pine straw and garden waste in my runs. This keeps it from getting muddy, stinky & slimy. They love to dig through it looking for worms/bugs. This digging will shred the leaves and along with their poo, will make great compost for a garden.
 

Dmontgomery

Songster
Apr 1, 2014
839
601
222
Longville, La
I have an all dirt run also. I mow the grass in my yard, wait a day or so, rake it up, and pile it in the run. The chickens spread it out looking for bugs. Keeps the mud down and composts faster than hay or straw, for me. Every month or so I just add more grass.
 

4x4Runner

Chirping
Jul 20, 2016
101
19
66
El Cajon, CA
Has anyone ever thought about adding sand? My run is all dirt (used to have grass) and I've been seeing people add sand to the dirt. Does anyone know about this?
 

Kyanite

Loving Life!
May 27, 2016
442
132
157
SE Idaho
I have seen an article about sand in the run. It drains quickly and therefore dries fast so less issues with sanitation and smell. Easy for chickens to scratch through it for what they want, but also easy to rake up anything you don't want in there. I saw somewhere some one (The Chicken Chick I think) say that they take a rototiller to their coop and then reapply fresh sand when it needs a good deep clean. I liked the idea.
 

4x4Runner

Chirping
Jul 20, 2016
101
19
66
El Cajon, CA
A rototiller sounds like a good idea once in awhile. When I rake mine out I noticed I'm loosing quite a bit of dirt. We rake the coop out about every 2 or 3 weeks. They free range a ton in our yard so it doesn't get too bad. A 50lb bag of kids sand is about $5 so if I throw some down I don't think it would hurt? Maybe add some DE? I'm a new chicken owner but this site has helped a ton. I'm always reading new things.
 

lynnehd

Songster
6 Years
Jan 1, 2015
777
137
206
Vancouver, Wa.
I have seen an article about sand in the run. It drains quickly and therefore dries fast so less issues with sanitation and smell. Easy for chickens to scratch through it for what they want, but also easy to rake up anything you don't want in there. I saw somewhere some one (The Chicken Chick I think) say that they take a rototiller to their coop and then reapply fresh sand when it needs a good deep clean. I liked the idea.

A rototiller sounds like a good idea once in awhile. When I rake mine out I noticed I'm loosing quite a bit of dirt. We rake the coop out about every 2 or 3 weeks. They free range a ton in our yard so it doesn't get too bad. A 50lb bag of kids sand is about $5 so if I throw some down I don't think it would hurt? Maybe add some DE? I'm a new chicken owner but this site has helped a ton. I'm always reading new things.

I use sand on the floor of my coop run. I spot clean as needed, and rake it up. However, my run is covered, which helps keep the sand drier during the wetter months. (Wet sand is not very effective). Even a tarp over the top can help keep the run dry.
So far, after a year, I haven't needed to rototill it.
It works very well, and dries out the poop quickly.
You want to go about 4-6 inches deep.
If you do use sand, make sure it is 'Masonry' or 'Construction' sand (different particle sizes so it doesn't pack down as much).
 

ladyargentum

In the Brooder
Aug 19, 2016
63
6
23
Western Australia
My run just has soil which in itself is pretty much sand. I don't have clay type soil here so it will never pack together and become a hard mass. Great as it drains very easily and even the uncovered part of the run never has puddles that last.

My 3 girls get to free range most days, but when I do lock them into the run I try to add something for them to scratch around in or else I notice an increase in noise from them. The last few times that has been a pile of moist leaves from under a big tree they love to scratch around in. Easy to just rake out of the run as I need to.

If you have a clay type soil that compacts and retains water then adding some sand to help keep it loosened and allow water to drain away can work. I suppose it just depends on your soil type and weather as to what will work for you.
 

kgb6days

Songster
Mar 6, 2016
181
59
101
We were in the same situation as you - built a covered run in a shaded grassy area. The grass lasted about a week, then just dirt. I raked it every couple of days to get the poo out, but the smell was bad. We've ended up going deep liter method and love it. No smell, no raking. I turn it over once a week with a pitch fork, watch the girls scratch and peck. It's been the right solution for us.

Kristy in NC
 

MANNA-PRO

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