Hay in covered run advice needed

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by socks, Mar 5, 2012.

  1. socks

    socks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 12, 2009
    Pacific Northwest
    Hi, I have a covered run of about 12 by 15 ft and the coop and run is 3 years old. My 8 chickens don't get out so much (about 1/2 hour most non-rainy days) and I don't like the idea that I have a fairly toxic run. It only occurred to me lately that I should have put something down like sand etc. in the run when I made it but don't have access to that right now.
    I just got 6 bales of dry hay (no straw around here) and I intend to start putting some down. A friend said she used to do this and each day put a bit more down and sometimes sprinkling lime before she did.

    Here are my questions:
    for the initial layer of hay should I just pull it off in squares and lay them down like tiles and then throw loose hay on top?
    Or should I just put a whole bunch of loose hay down?
    Is that liming idea o.k.?? It seems like it wouldn't be good for the chickens to walk on nor to eat.
    Should I put diatomaceous earth down too? (I saw someone said something about hay/straw helping breed lice)

    I know from reading this forum that hay is not considered the best choice but my run is covered and I just don't have access to anything else right now. It just seems like the run might smell less and be healthier for the birds if I did it in the manner of a deep litter system adding a bit every day or so. I also hope to get some of that manure for my garden when I clean it out instead of just building up toxic soil in the run.

    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated as I would like to do it very soon.
    thanks.
     
  2. Hawkeye95

    Hawkeye95 Chillin' With My Peeps

    The square tiles you are talking about are called "flecks" and hay tends to mold a lot faster than straw. If it rains, it will be a soggy mess. But if you plan on raking it out and getting rid of it in a while, then why not give it a shot. The other thing people worry about is that if the chickens eat the hay or straw, it can impact their crop, and that is pretty serious. However, this usually happens with straw because it doesn't go down as easily. Do watch for mold. I'd spread the flecks out loosely so that they will be light and fluffy and have a better chance to dry out. Lime is fine, but if you can find the DE instead, I'd go for that.
     
  3. socks

    socks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 12, 2009
    Pacific Northwest
    Thanks Hawkeye, the run is covered so it shouldn't get wet in the rain. Near the front it can get wet but I might just avoid putting hay in the front area (separated by a door so it might be harder for them to just spread it into that area). I'm hoping to do it as a deep litter so keep on adding to it for a few months unless I see signs of mold.
     
  4. Hawkeye95

    Hawkeye95 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Just be alert to any of your chickens really eating a lot of it and if they become lethargic or starting to act different, sleepy or have an obviously large or extended crop. It's okay if they eat a bit of it-- just not all day long. Just be watchful. Most likely, it'll be fine, and get it out of there if you see mold.
     
  5. GardenGal

    GardenGal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 11, 2011
    Western WA
    I used hay in our run this winter while it was really cold - partly for insulation and partly to give the chickens something to do. For me it's more trouble than it's worth. It was a lot harder to keep the run clean, and our chickens got really bored with having it in there. They were so happy to see dirt again and have dirt baths!

    If it were me, I would shovel the existing top layer of dirt out, replace it with fresh dirt, then just go in there with a cat litter scoop every day or so and get what I could see. We had six chickens for a while in an 8 x 12 run, and it took me less than 5 minutes to scoop their poop. I don't know how many chickens you have though. It'd probably be a bigger deal with 50 :)
     

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