Ground Covering for Outdoor Run?


Apr 30, 2017
Southern Indiana
My Coop
My Coop
My run is a stinking mess. I've typed that and think it sounds like a hygiene issue, so to be clear, I'm referring to the run in which my chickens live. I've read a lot of threads on here regarding different types of flooring material but it seems most post refer to the COOP where the girls roost and nesting boxes are. I use sand on that floor and pine shavings in the nesting boxes and that is working perfectly, (except for when it rains and leaks into the nesting boxes...then I have the chore of constantly changing out wet shavings for dry, but that's another thread.)

My problem is with the outdoor run. It is a covered dog kennel with hardware cloth skirting, so other than from above, it's totally open to the elements, (again, the RUN, not the COOP.) There is a deeper layer of white driveway rock that was there from years ago and was covered over by dirt. We placed sand in this area as well and at first, it worked great, but over time, the sand has mixed with the dirt, the rain has mixed it into a mucky mess, and the heat has baked it into a hard layer of poo, feed, and impenetrable rock like earth. Now, the chickens have scattered feed all over the area, (because who can eat from the feeder without digging in it and throwing it around like drunken pizza makers might throw dough,) so now there is a stinking mess of poo and now moldering crumble/crumble dust in the run. I don't know how to remedy this so I don't have the monumental task of breaking it up with a shovel and trying to salvage SOME kind of ground cover for the chickens. Someone suggested chopped corn cobs. Anyone heard of this and can you give opinions and suggestions on methods I could try? I've read about the DLM, but it sounds like it's used more in enclosed coops and not element exposed runs? Here it comes...

Chickens are hard.


Jul 19, 2015
Coastal Bend, TX
Nope, I do deep litter in my partially covered run, as do many others. To clarify, it is 800sq ft and 100sq ft is covered. I toss everything in there, from lawn cuttings, leaves, pine needles, and now because it is so large and I don't have enough yard stuff I buy a bale of hay about every five weeks and that goes down too. Flies are at a minimum, poop smell is almost nonexistent, everyone's feet stay dry (except during and right after a rain).

Folly's place

Crossing the Road
8 Years
Sep 13, 2011
southern Michigan
x2! Shavings, dried lawn clippings, dried leaves in fall, some hay or straw, all to make a bed of litter, so they can dig and scratch in it, as they would do in the forest floor they originally came from in SE Asia. Sand is a fantasy that turns out your way most often, unless you have four chickens and scoop poop daily, and then replace the sand often. If there's a drainage issue, fix that, so water isn't running into the run. Having it covered is a huge help! Mary
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Mar 17, 2015
SW Ohio
We do Deep Litter in our run, not the coop. It has been a god-send in our humid climate. The run does have a solid roof but is open on 3 sides. It stays dry for the most part but rain (and snow) do blow in. I can't imagine bare dirt along with poo. We throw in hay, straw, grass clippings, leaves, landscape weeds, leftover veggies from the garden & pine needles. All that along with the poo breaks down into some beautiful compost. We clean it out every spring to be tilled into the garden. No flies & no odor.



5 Years
Mar 11, 2014
East Texas
I agree with the DLM. We have about 50 chickens in a very large run. The ground is a combo of sand, clay and some actual decent dirt. We throw everything in there. Grass clippings are my favorite. They break down quickly and smell fantastic! I also like to get horse bedding pellets and wet them down. They basically turn to sawdust and I spread this through the run to mix in with everything else. We are in Texas, so it's hot. I usually spray down the run area at least once a day to cool things down and help everthing compost. Everyone seems happy. :)


Nov 26, 2016
Hocking Hills, Ohio
We have a similar set-up using a dog kennel run attached to our coop. I recently put a roof on it to keep the run dry. We started the DLM and so far so good. Nothing but an earthy smell and very few flies. I am a woodworker and use my pine shavings in the run. We also have an extensive herb garden and throw our trimmings in there to get eaten and mulched in...smells good too. The biggest help we found was from a thread on BYC years ago about putting catch trays under the coop roost for easy poop removal, and we have extended that idea to put trays under the hanging feeders in the run. It catches the crumbles they throw around and many of the girls will eat the spillage from the tray. I found a great website to order trays. I like the shallower trays (1.5-2" deep) so the chickens aren't tempted to sit on the high edges and tip the tray over. We put shavings in the coop trays which minimizes cleaning, we just pull them out and go right to compost!

Run trays.GardenTillers440.jpg
Coop trays.GardenTillers440.jpg


Apr 30, 2017
Southern Indiana
My Coop
My Coop
So start with a good layer of pine shavings and follow with hay? My husband uses a lawn tractor to mow and the clippings aren't collected so that's out. What else could I put in? We don't have a garden so that's out, or is pine and hay enough? I'm intrigued by the use of trays... or waterer is of the hanging variety so it's ALWAYS wet underneath and gets quite nasty. I dug out an area and put about three inches of landscape rock but, of course, dirt, sand, poo, and tossed feed have eventually made there way into the rock area and it's so hard to keep up with. The feeder does not hang and sits on the ground...would that pose any kind of problem using DLM?

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