Fixed Runs: Unhealthy or acceptable?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by jmc, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. jmc

    jmc Songster

    Jul 22, 2008
    South Central MA
    I am a beginner, with a whole 5 months experience with chickens.

    After reading Gail Damerow in 'Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens' and Andy Lee and Pat Foreman's 'Chicken Tractor', I decided that the idea of the fixed outdoor chicken run on which the birds would stay basically all the time, was NOT a good idea for the health of the birds; and something I would NOT do.

    But what about you all? I realize the whole Chicken Tractor and Pastured Poultry movement are based on this premise. BUT.................

    There must be some of you out there who have your birds in a fixed run all the time--and maybe have been doing so for years--and have found it to work just fine.

    Are there some of you out there in this category? I submit that I think that a fixed run is probably not as healthy as a portable situation/chicken tractor method. But I also can't believe that having your birds on a fixed outdoor run for all their lives spells D-E-A-T-H for them.

    Lee and Foreman say, more or less, that if you keep your birds on a fixed chicken run the ground will become infested with parasites, basically toxic to most plant life, smelly and infested with flies. In other words, generally unhealthy.
    Damerow says that she can't believe that people who would never dream of planting some crop year after year on the same plot of ground, think nothing of keeping their chickens on the same outdoor run year after year.

    I think they're probably right, but I can't believe the 'fixed option' can't work though.

    Thoughts? Reactions?

    I realize that some people HAVE NO CHOICE but to keep their birds on a fixed run........I wonder how many would actually CHOOSE to keep their birds in a fixed outdoor run EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE THE OPTION OF DOING OTHERWISE.
  2. hcammack

    hcammack Crowing

    Oct 5, 2007
    I do not keep my birds in fixed run because of the reason stated above in those books. I have them in a coop that I move about every two months and they free range throughout the day. I believe free ranging or pasture raising is much healthier for the birds and people. (just my opinion)

  3. Malbri

    Malbri Songster

    Jan 10, 2008
    When cleaned out it's fine. Rake out the poop, sprinkle some DE and it should be fine.
  4. joebryant

    joebryant Crowing

    Lee, Foreman, and Damerow sound like three self-proclaimed "experts" wanting to sell books, but first they have to sell their "revolutionary" theories to get the $$$$. Take 99% of what you read in such books with a box of salt and an aspirin and go to bed; sleep without worrying.
    Personally, I'd rather have a permanent coop and run because it can be made safer from predators than something that had to be moved from one spot to another. I can let them out of the run to free range any time I choose. My coop and my run are VERY sanitary, probably more so than if it were a distance from my house.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2008
  5. Year of the Rooster

    Year of the Rooster Sebright Savvy

    Jun 27, 2008
    West Central Ohio
    That stuff does make sense, but unlike some people, we actually clean our runs. Some people put sand, leaves, etc. in their runs. Nobody ever said a run had to be dirty. And not all of us keep our chickens "cooped up" ([​IMG]) in their runs 24/7. I let mine out of their run at least once a day if the weather is nice, supervised of course. Personally, I think there is only so much you can say in a book. Not to mention that they don't get updated as much as, let's say, a website like BackYardChickens.
  6. onthespot

    onthespot Deluxe Dozens

    Mar 29, 2008
    Riverside/Norco, CA
    I am a beginner too, but I have two fixed runs, completely coverered tops for shade, shelter. Twenty by eight feet. I think if you keep them clean and don't overstock, shouldn't be a problem. I live in So Cal, where it is dry most of the year, flies are just not a problem if the poop is dry and healthy. I could imagine a heavily stocked "tank" of meat birds would just reek in two days, but a handful of birds with a lot of choices of elevation, footing, feeding and water stations, they all seem very happy and healthy. I did have a run of fowl pox, but I don't think that had to do with the size of their run. Seems like everyone in town and for that matter all over the country was having the same problem, free rangers, caged show birds, fixed runs, as well as the hog wild varieties... I would say let common sense and your conscience be your guide. If it is looking bad, it IS bad. If it is looking good and healthy, it probalby is. I have the raised dirt beds so they won't flod when it rains, and these runs were already in use for other animals for many years before the chickens inherited them. If it is good enough for a baboon or a wolf, I think it is good enough for a chicken.
  7. lurky

    lurky Songster

    Jun 4, 2007
    Western MA
    I have a fixed run that i keep clean also, but every day i let them out for several hours for grass, bugs, exercise and whatever. I think its a good balance [​IMG]
  8. Bex

    Bex Songster

    Oct 12, 2008
    I have a fixed coop/run. I had a fixed coop/run when I had chickens before, too.

    As others have said.. I would believe it's okay if it's cleaned regularly (which ours is) and the animal actually has a big enough pen and isn't cramped with too many other birds.
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    I live in the mountains and must have a fixed pen. I wouldnt even attempt a tractor on this uneven ground. You have to rake the dirt and from time to time, actually remove a wheelbarrow load or two from the run because they "fluff up" the dirt by tilling it over and over. It's very rich black dirt after all this time. I sprinkle wood ash from the fireplace and have been known to till in pulverized limestone to kill germs in the soil. Sometimes, it just is not practical to have a movable run or several.
  10. the1much

    the1much Currently Birdless Hippy

    they sound like people that dont clean their run,, or have 6 birds and a small tractor.

    EDIT:ta say ,, i have 9 runs that will never move,, and ALOT of birds,, and have had no diseases, no outbreaks,, or ANY problem with my birds,, cept 1 roo with a cold, and another roo that was brought to me cause he was sick ( and he's PERFECT nows)
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2008

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