Flooring for My Run???

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by SmokedGouda, Mar 10, 2015.

  1. SmokedGouda

    SmokedGouda Hatching

    Apr 14, 2014
    Hi Everybody!!

    I'm having problems with the dirt ground in my run. When wet, the ground does not dry quickly, and gets very very sloppy. Plus, my girls are constantly digging pits and throwing dirt into their water. The first two pictures are of the coop this past spring when I first built it. The third picture is a snapshot taken from a video (sorry for the poor quality) showing two of my girls next to a pit they've dug. The pit doesn't look big in the picture, but it is deep. My main concern is the mud and sloppiness. I don't want my girls to have sloppy wet feet anymore, especially with this crazy cold weather in Ohio!

    Overall, I am just getting tired of the dirt floor and all of the problems it is giving me and my girls. What are some flooring methods you guys and gals use to keep your chickens healthy and dry?

    Thanks for all the help!!!

    - Matt from Cleveland
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  2. Sirius452

    Sirius452 In the Brooder

    Jan 19, 2015
    I would go with mulch. Built up to the middle or top of your bottom board in the run it should dry out rather quickly even though mulch holds water. It will eliminate the slickness problem.
  3. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Songster

    Dec 15, 2014
    I can't tell by the pictures, is your entire run covered or just 1/2? If it isn't entirely covered, doing so will likely help things. I'd also look at where the gutter downspout from the house dumps and make sure that it is directed far away from the run area. You could also pitch the roof on your run and install a gutter on it that ties into the house downspout.

    You could try adding material (shavings, shredded leaves, mulch, grass clippings, wood chips, etc.) to raise the level in the run. This is called the Deep Litter Method and a lot of people swear by it.

    You could add sand to improve the drainage. I use sand in my run but am rethinking this choice as I am getting quite a bit of moisture wicking up from below as the snow melts and ground thaws. This will be my first spring with sand so I've not come to a verdict on it yet.

    Given the size of your coop and run, I wonder if putting concrete pavers down and then doing deep litter on top might be an effective option.
  4. SmokedGouda

    SmokedGouda Hatching

    Apr 14, 2014
    My run is fully covered and the roof is pitched and has gutters, so rain water is never a problem. Right now the moisture is from the snow melting and the ground becoming saturated. I think I will try that deep litter method temporarily, but I am looking for a more permanent solution.
    Is it normal to put a plywood floor down or something like that? The dirt is just not very fun to clean up, and I'm pretty sure there is a thick layer of poo covering the actual dirt.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Read this.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):

    If the run is any size at all and the weather sets in wet there may not be a whole lot you can do. But your run isn’t that big.

    Jus covering it won’t keep all the rain and snow out. A lot will blow in from the sides but your cover is a good thing. It helps a lot, as do your gutters. That’s a good start.

    The water is coming in from the ground, melting snow right now but it will come in from rainfall later. You need to stop as much of it from coming in as you can and get out what does come in. The best way to do both of those is to raise the level of your run floor. Once it sets up, clay is fairly impervious. It will absorb water and turn muddy if it stands in water and especially if it is stirred up like chickens scratching. It’s not a good idea to use clay in there.

    Sand drains really well. As long as the water has a place to go, it will not stay soaking wet long. The key though is that it has to have a place to go. Even if you build it up higher than the surrounding area, you may need to look at a swale or maybe even a French drain to get the water away from that area. Building it up with several inches of sand can really help the situation even without further drainage work but putting in a drainage system in which sand is a part can be really good.

    There are some problems with sand. Over time it sinks into the mud and disappears. Chickens scratching down to the mud doesn’t help that any. You may find it really beneficial to put down a layer of gravel two or three inches thick to slow the sand down from disappearing. It still will over time, but hopefully a long time.

    Another problem is that rainwater can wash it away or the chickens scratching can move a large amount of sand out of the run through the fence. It’s a good idea to have some type of solid barrier around the run for the bottom several inches high to slow that process down.

    There is another potential problem, but this will be with any bedding or just a dirt floor, not just sand. I don’t know how many chickens you have, but the higher your concentration, the more poop will be in that area. With a low enough chicken density the poop load may be small enough that it is never an issue, but it is also possible you may have to do some poop management if it begins to stink. Some people never have that problem. Some people are out in the run daily scooping poop. Sand can be good for that. Some people that use bedding of some type change it out on a regular basis because the poop load just gets too high or the bedding itself turns wet and rotten. Some people toss in leaves, grass cuttings, or other stuff and the run is their compost pile. They never change it out until tey use the compost.

    We are all unique in our conditions and management techniques. What works for one person will not work for all. You need to find a way that works for you. Filling that with several inches of sand just might be a good start for you. Good luck!
  6. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Songster

    Dec 15, 2014
    No, I don't think plywood is the norm. Of the runs I've seen that have a floor, it is usually a concrete slab or pavers. Any wood that comes in contact with the ground is going to end up rotting, so I'd be reluctant to do that.

    You may find that the deep litter does the job. From what I've read, the poop naturally decomposes as long as moisture is properly maintained and it is turned frequently (the good news is that generally the chickens do that part for you).

    If it turns out you are still experiencing moisture and want a permanent floor, I'd go with concrete that can be easily scraped down and disinfected. I would make sure the surface of the concrete is well above the surrounding ground level though. On top of the concrete, I'd go with deep litter that you could change out a couple times of year as needed so the chickens have a "natural" surface to walk around on and a nice organic matter to scratch around in.
  7. SmokedGouda

    SmokedGouda Hatching

    Apr 14, 2014
    Thank you so much for the replies, everyone! Lots of great info!
  8. K-Kritter

    K-Kritter In the Brooder

    Jan 15, 2015
    I saw your thread but since I don't have any chickens yet to say one way or the other, I was interested in seeing responses. From what I have gathered from this site, I will be using the Deep Litter Method since my coop will also be on the ground. Good luck and keep us posted on what you do!!
  9. FrankA

    FrankA In the Brooder

    Mar 8, 2015
    Long Island NY
  10. speedy2020

    speedy2020 Songster

    Jul 24, 2010
    The horizontal water system will solve your clean water issue and only require to refill the water every 1-3 weeks.

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