Getting ready to build the run- question about footing

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ganesha09, May 6, 2011.

  1. ganesha09

    ganesha09 Loves chicken feet!

    Sep 18, 2010
    southern Illinois
    Hi everyone!
    We are getting ready to do the run , and I plan to put down 6 in. of road base gravel and top it with sand. My question is, do I just start with the base right on top of the grass or do I need to do a prep for the site? Also, do I do anything special to encourage drainage? The run will be covered, and the dimensions are 18x60. I just want to do everything possible to keep the run as dry as possible. I would love any advice- this is my first run! [​IMG] Thanks to all!
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I'd suggest you be careful what road base gravel you use. What I consider road base gravel is the gravel going under the road surface. It should drain very well. The gravel that goes on top of a gravel road to form the hard surface contains little bitty stuff called fines that help seal the surface and cause it to shed water. Those are two different things. Water will not drain through this surface type gravel very well at all. It is actually designed to keep water from draining through it. So make sure you get the right stuff. You do not want very much "fines" in it.

    Another consideration is that chickens will scratch through the surface of the sand and get to the gravel. If they scratch on sharp gravel, they might cut themselves which could lead to bumblefoot. That is a huge run. Your gravel costs may be high. Can you get pea gravel by volume at a cost you can afford? I'd think it would be a better material. it has smooth rounded pebbles, not the sharp edges from crushed stone.

    Six inches of gravel seems like a lot. I'd think a couple of inches would be enough. The main purpose of the gravel is to keep the sand from disappearing into the mud and to help provide drainage. You might see if you can get some geotextile material to put under the gravel. That is the stuff designed to go under the drainage gravel in a roadbed. It allows water to drain but helps keep the stuff underneath from pumping to the surface.

    Personally, I'd put it on top of the grass. You want it to drain. If you bury it in the soil, where does it drain to? If you have a sandy soil, you probably won't have that big a problem to start with, but if it is a heavy clay and you dig it out, you may be creating a swimming pool under there. I would suggest edging it with something to contain the sand and gravel so rain does not wash it away.

    If you have not seen it, Pat's article on a muddy run may help you.

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

  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:It depends so much on your site. If it is already high and well-draining and slightly sloped away from the coop, as Ridgerunner says you may not need to move *quite* so much aggregate as you're planning. If your site drains poorly and is lowish or flat (or floods sometimes), I think your plans are quite reasonable to create a good lasting definitive high spot.

    For hoofstock pens or horse facilities, yes you would ideally remove the turf and topsoil first; but for chickens, I sincerely think "why bother". You just want to make sure the area is plausibly-graded, i.e. not with a low spot in the middle and not draining towards the coop or anything else you don't want it to drain towards. If there is any question of flooding, NOW is the ideal time to do diversion ditches outside the run, too. And make sure you have gutters on all nearby roof (includes coop!) with downspouts directing water weeeellllllll away from the run.

    Good luck, have fun,

  4. ganesha09

    ganesha09 Loves chicken feet!

    Sep 18, 2010
    southern Illinois
    Thank you so much, Pat and Ridgerunner. We have heavy clay soil here, but luckily the coop and run will be located on a high spot with a slight slope to hopefully help with drainage. I am trying to wait as long as I can to lay the base in hopes that the ground will dry a bit- We have had SO much rain! I am getting my materials from a landscaping business that actually has reasonable prices and will deliver, and I will double check with them on the type of road base they have. So maybe, I can get away with 3-4 inches of base with 6 inches of sand? I did read the big 'ol muddy run page by patandchickens- and what an amazing wealth of good info it has. Made the hubby read it too. Waiting for patandchickens to write a chicken book- I would be 1st in line to buy a copy! Thanks again for the great advice. Hope everyone has a great weekend![​IMG]

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