flooring for roofless run

Dhkoenig

Songster
Sep 21, 2020
253
198
108
Bergen County New Jersey
Hi Everyone. My run is about 20x10 feet and it has a really strong tight chicken wire top for predators, but the top has no "roof". Right now the floor of my run (we inherited these chickens from previous owners of the home and we are in love with them..) is just dirt and he used to have mulch over it but it has sort-of run out after my raking and cleaning it over the past few months. I was going to go get pine mulch but everyone here says that is the worst because it retains moisture. Then I heard sand is the best but only if there is a roof. What does one use for the flooring of the run if there is no roof? Related question also, if we do decide to put a roof over the run, and right now we have transparent tarps over maybe half of the run because we have really cold and windy winters, so how do they get enough sunlight with a roof? Mine can't free range because we have too many predators. The transparent tarps for wind are really more translucent, they come off as looking white with light sort-of passing through them so I worry about 1) leaving the top open for sun, how to keep the ground from getting moldy and soggy and 2) if I get a roof, how does it not crush under snow and how do they get light? Sorry for all the questions in one post
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
14 Years
Nov 18, 2007
29,346
29,459
901
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
Personally I would leave it dirt. I have a tiller and have tilled the ground in my pens but the birds do a good job. I do have rain/shade tables in my pens. The birds do get under them. I don't know about snow loads. Hopefully you will get some responses from those that have dealt with snow. Good luck...
IMG_20181202_133518.jpg
 

hayley3

Crowing
14 Years
Aug 16, 2007
2,072
1,956
446
Southern Indiana
Hi Everyone. My run is about 20x10 feet and it has a really strong tight chicken wire top for predators, but the top has no "roof". Right now the floor of my run (we inherited these chickens from previous owners of the home and we are in love with them..) is just dirt and he used to have mulch over it but it has sort-of run out after my raking and cleaning it over the past few months. I was going to go get pine mulch but everyone here says that is the worst because it retains moisture. Then I heard sand is the best but only if there is a roof. What does one use for the flooring of the run if there is no roof? Related question also, if we do decide to put a roof over the run, and right now we have transparent tarps over maybe half of the run because we have really cold and windy winters, so how do they get enough sunlight with a roof? Mine can't free range because we have too many predators. The transparent tarps for wind are really more translucent, they come off as looking white with light sort-of passing through them so I worry about 1) leaving the top open for sun, how to keep the ground from getting moldy and soggy and 2) if I get a roof, how does it not crush under snow and how do they get light? Sorry for all the questions in one post
If you can do a roof, then it's going to make your life much easier. The sun will filter in through the sides so they get sunshine but rain also comes in that way. A sloped roof will allow the snow to slide off.
 

Dhkoenig

Songster
Sep 21, 2020
253
198
108
Bergen County New Jersey
Personally I would leave it dirt. I have a tiller and have tilled the ground in my pens but the birds do a good job. I do have rain/shade tables in my pens. The birds do get under them. I don't know about snow loads. Hopefully you will get some responses from those that have dealt with snow. Good luck...
View attachment 2434036
thank you for this! You don't have trouble with mold growth from moisture? Mine have a table like this - albeit much smaller cuz we only have 4 ladies, but the ground of the run becomes pure mud after a big rain. What do you do about that?
 

jreardon1918

Crowing
5 Years
Jul 13, 2016
879
1,600
286
Southeast, MA
My Coop
My Coop
We have both a covered secure run and a fenced auxiliary run. They both get a regular mixture of cut grass, leaves, wood chips, yard waste, old coop shavings and of course poop. We are aiming for a forest floor look, feel and smell. It works for us. The girls dig down to dirt to take care of dust baths.
 

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cmom

Hilltop Farm
14 Years
Nov 18, 2007
29,346
29,459
901
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
thank you for this! You don't have trouble with mold growth from moisture? Mine have a table like this - albeit much smaller cuz we only have 4 ladies, but the ground of the run becomes pure mud after a big rain. What do you do about that?
I turn the ground there. Once it gets really packed down it won't percolate the water but when it's turned it will percolate again. I have sand in my pens. Good luck...
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,162
17,046
706
USA
the ground of the run becomes pure mud after a big rain. What do you do about that?

... a regular mixture of cut grass, leaves, wood chips, yard waste, old coop shavings and of course poop. We are aiming for a forest floor look, feel and smell. It works for us. The girls dig down to dirt to take care of dust baths.

That's almost exactly what I was going to say :)
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
24,129
41,743
1,156
southern Michigan
Your approximate location added to your profile would be helpful here, although you are talking about snow in winter.
Dirt is fine as a base, making sure that drainage is good. If water can pool in the run, all bets are off!
Shavings, clippings, wood chips (not pure black walnut!) all are good, as @jreardon1918 already mentioned.
Having an actual roofed run is wonderful! However, it must be built with snow load and wind considered. Your local building code is your friend, because a collapsing roof might kill not only your birds, but you. Going out there at 2am in a blizzard to clean snow off an inadequate roof won't be fun either.
Tarps on chicken wire, no.
Something helpful for winter is to add that clear plastic wrap around at least the windward sides of the run, so the birds have a nicer place to be. Chickens do hate snow, so you might find that they want to stay in their coop unless you shovel it out. Also not fun.
Mary
 

Dhkoenig

Songster
Sep 21, 2020
253
198
108
Bergen County New Jersey
Your approximate location added to your profile would be helpful here, although you are talking about snow in winter.
Dirt is fine as a base, making sure that drainage is good. If water can pool in the run, all bets are off!
Shavings, clippings, wood chips (not pure black walnut!) all are good, as @jreardon1918 already mentioned.
Having an actual roofed run is wonderful! However, it must be built with snow load and wind considered. Your local building code is your friend, because a collapsing roof might kill not only your birds, but you. Going out there at 2am in a blizzard to clean snow off an inadequate roof won't be fun either.
Tarps on chicken wire, no.
Something helpful for winter is to add that clear plastic wrap around at least the windward sides of the run, so the birds have a nicer place to be. Chickens do hate snow, so you might find that they want to stay in their coop unless you shovel it out. Also not fun.
Mary
Thanks Mary. I am going to snap a pic of the clear(ish) tarps we have in a bit and maybe you can tell me whether after putting an angled roof on it (my husband said we should put a roof shaped (like a typical roof on a house) frame and plywood on that) if that would take away too much sunlight??
 

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