Ground condition problem

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by bovrilheid, Mar 2, 2007.

  1. bovrilheid

    bovrilheid In the Brooder

    Mar 2, 2007
    Hi All

    This is my first post and hopefully you all might be able to help. I am about to start keeping chickens for the first time, and want to get off to a good start. The problem is that as we live 60 degrees north in Shetland the weather is extreme and the ground is waterlogged almost all year round and all the advice I've received so far indicates that hens much prefer dry ground. My thought is to "build up" the ground a little by making a small frame and filling with some stones, then sand and finally with bark. chickens will be in a run and coop all the time (many polecats around our house). Does this sound like a sensible idea...or am I unable to keep chickens with this sodden ground.

    As I said I am completely new to this so really would appreciate some sound advice.

    Also, need some advice on a hardy breed for Shetland, only looking for laying hens as the children are desperate to look after hens
  2. robin416

    robin416 Songster

    Feb 6, 2007
    Your idea sounds very doable. Two things to think about, laying wire under the gravel to prevent predators from tunneling in to the bird's area. The second, use landscaping cloth over the the gravel so the sand will not wash out. Make certain the sides of your enclosure are higher than the sand, you might also need to drill some drain holes down at the level of the gravel so the water can drain out.

    I had water problems inside of my coop. I toted 9 tons of sand in to raise the floor level which ended the wet floor condition.
  3. MTchick

    MTchick Songster

    Feb 2, 2007
    Western Montana
    I live in Montana- a cold, snowy and damp climate at times. I happen to have a lot of old bricks around my property and my friend that keeps hens has suggested to us (from his experience) to create a small, raised "patio" of bricks to prevent puddles and too much wet soil.

    Perhaps you could layer some bricks, gravel, or paving stones into a small "pad" and then set the coop on top of this slightly elevated platform. I would guess the only concerns will be that the platform is snug on the coop to prevent drafts and that the roof extends past the edges to keep water from running across your flooring.

  4. TheBigWRanch

    TheBigWRanch Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    Wenatchee, Washington
    I'm not sure if I would use bark, it doesn't sound comfortable. It may cause bumble foot too. JMO
  5. ella

    ella Songster

    First of all Welcome to BYC![​IMG] You'll love it here it's the best place I've found to get practical information about keeping chickens, and good info is hard to find!

    Sounds like you have a great plan and I'm sure you can make it work. On the suggestion of a moderator here I'm going to fill my run with pea gravel with landscape fabric underneath to keep it from sinking into the ground. It will also need a frame around it to keep the girls (hens) from kicking the gravel out.

    You might want to test out your plan in a small area first to see how it works, you might find that the sand washes out or the bark gets moldy or something, so you can adjust it before you have chickens in there.

    Don't give up on chickens because of muddy conditions. It's something just about everybody deals with because even in ideal weather chickens will kill all the grass in their run.

    As for a breed, there are so many choices, and everybody has their favorites!
    Check out for picture of hundreds of breed and see which ones you like best. I would suggest staying away from any breed with feathered feet because they get absolutely filthy in muddy weather. Also you may want to stay away from white colored chickens because they seem to attract predators more. Buff Orpingtons are a pretty and gentle breed that makes great pets.

    Whatever you decide have fun![​IMG]
  6. bovrilheid

    bovrilheid In the Brooder

    Mar 2, 2007
    Thanks all for giving me your knowledge, I really appreciate it. I'll certainly give it a go and if I get problems I guess I'll sort them out.

    I'll keep you informed how it goes, but I'm off to the hardware store just now to buy some's exciting isn't it:D

  7. allen wranch

    allen wranch Crowing

    Jan 11, 2007
    San Marcos, TX
    Just sand should work OK.
  8. jaydee67

    jaydee67 Hatching

    Mar 5, 2007
    Shetland Islands, UK
    Welcome to my world - literally!

    I also live in Shetland and have been keeping chickens for about 5 years - so it can be done! And many different breeds are kept here too - you just have to decide! [​IMG] I have kept green egg laying Shetlands and bantams (the kids) until last year when I hatched Welsummers, Light Sussex, Exchequor leghorns, Appenzeller, Scots Dumpy and the kids hatched more bantams. We also have ducks and recently acquired a couple of marans. Mixed egg basket!

    Give me a shout if you want to talk chickens - or come and see my set up - with some warning I may even get it cleaned out! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2007
  9. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    That sounds like a great plan. It can also help to roof at least part of the run to keep it drier, too.

    Maybe think about whether you need to provide any wind breaks for part of the run or if you just want to make sure they have enough room to hang out in the coop on the really bad days.

    It's also good to build your coop with enough roof over hanging the edges, so you don't get rain blowing in the openings. A lot of people forget that when they're building.
  10. lorihadams

    lorihadams Songster

    Sep 17, 2008
    Leaves.....get as much leaf litter as possible and toss it in....we're talking 3ft of leaves. The chickens love to scratch through it and they will break it down into smaller pieces and it will eventually turn into a mulch-like consistency. I had to pile in more leaves throughout the fall about once a week but we had a heavily wooded property line and all the leaves we could ever want. Put a roof over the run. Don't use a tarp for the roof if you ever have snow or heavy WILL tear. We tried for years with tarps and finally put a tin roof on the run...much easier and the predators had a hard time with the solid roof, it was much more secure.

    I would say that if you put a good 4-5 inches of sand and then leaf litter on top of that you shouldn't have too many issues. Good luck!

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