HELP--how to keep urban run clean?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by strawbie4, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. strawbie4

    strawbie4 New Egg

    Aug 10, 2008
    Hi all, I posted this on the pests and predators forum, and someone kindly suggested that this might be a more appropriate one, so I'm posting it here as well. I'm new to BYC and a few months into raising our first 4 chickens. They are beautiful and healthy. They have a coop in our garage, connected to a 6x6 run out in our very small yard. Naturally, they have completely depleted the grass and the area is now just dirt. I know how to clean the coop out, but am not sure what to do with the run. And, err, since I've put off knowing what to do, we now have quite a colony of flies. Worse, our neighbor spotted a rat a few nights ago. So, my big question is, how do I keep their run clean? Do I need to rake it? Put bedding in it? Other ideas? It's too hard to just scoop the poops out, b/c they are all trampled into the dirt by the end of the day.

    Plus a few related questions:
    How have others dealt with this? How do you keep it clean if it has grass/plants? If you don't have those, what do you do? Would pavers be better? It seems like the chickens would prefer dirt to stone. If I put in a layer of gravel/sand/bedding/whatever, then how do I keep *that* clean?

    Of course, we also started composting recently, which I am concerned may be compounding the problem, but I really don't know.
    Thanks in advance for any assistance,

  2. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    Hang fly traps for the flies, or try making your own. There was a post here on BYC about making one with vinegar and sugar.

    Use DE or Stall Dri in the run to keep the smell down and to dry out the poo faster.

    You can rake it clean and putting down grass clippings or other bedding will help.

    If you are worried about more rodents, set traps.

    Good luck!
  3. injunjoe

    injunjoe Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 1, 2008
    Pasco county, FL.

    My run was grass to start with.
    Now it is just dirt! It had plants, now just stems! [​IMG]

    I take a garden fork and turn the soil after I rake up most of the poop. I take the pile and put in my compost then turn that under so it gets hot and keeps the flies at bay. The chickens have the run all flat in no time. They love to pick through the dirt piles made by turning.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2008
  4. AngieChick

    AngieChick Poultry Elitist

    I brought in a truckload of river sand. It ended up being about 4 inches deep in the ru. Once a week I sprinkle around some stall dry (couldn't find food grade DE about) and I rake the run with a small rake. As soon as I put in the stall dry, the flies disappeared. I think there must be some kind of deterrent in there. There has always been a fly issue in our small yard, I am not sure why, but this has really helped. I also hung a fly trap. I have tarps to put over the top of the run during rain, so it stays pretty dry, which also helps.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2008
  5. happyhen

    happyhen Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 8, 2008
    Northeastern Ohio
    My girls like to carpet the ground in the run with the pine litter from inside the coop which does tend to attract flies after it rains. Every 2- 3 days I sprinkle the run with stall dry, rake up the litter and then dust with DE.

    I also sprinkle garden lime on the compost. It deters flies and neutralizes the acidity of the pine chips.

    No odor and no flies.
  6. bluie

    bluie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2007
    I'd go with the sand idea.
  7. SterlingAcres

    SterlingAcres Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 17, 2008
    Poconos, PA
    Ditto on sand. We'll be getting some as well.
  8. LindaN

    LindaN Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 28, 2007
    strawbie4, you don't mention which city you're in, but I'm in Chicago. My hens live in a run that is "floored" with several inches of "playground mulch," which is a somewhat chunky wood mulch. This drains very well and drys out fairly quickly after a rain.

    You can see the consistency of it in this pic.


    I rake the mulch every couple of weeks with a garden rake to turn under the droppings. I do still see flies, but not very many. The flies are always somewhere. If it's not there, it's on the dog droppings that I haven't yet picked up, or on my compost, or on the neighbors open trash can, etc.

    As for rats, they may be looking for food, but chicken droppings aren't the main attraction. Do you leave food in the run? If you do, be sure that your run is enclosed with hardware cloth small enough to deter rodents from slipping in. Also, does the wire extend underground or across the surface to keep rodents and predators from digging in?

    Rats will also go after your compost if it is open and you're putting food scraps in there. I've noticed that when I would put grain products in the compost (like rice, bread, etc.) then I was more likely to see pests like mice. Now the leftover grains and baked goods I don't want go to the hens, or if they've already started to mold they go into the worm bin in my basement.

    To keep rats out of the compost, place fine hardware cloth under your bins (this keeps them from digging under and into the bin) and put a locking lid on your compost. Now that I don't put food scraps in my compost bins (it's all yard waste and chicken droppings these days!) I leave the lids off so I can get more rain water on the bin). So far, no rat problems.
  9. orchidchick

    orchidchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 23, 2008
    south florida
    Once I started scattering a handful of "Scratch" all over the run daily I haven't been able to find any poop anywhere." Now, that's great, I am thinking..Let them do all the work."

    Of course, I now have to worry about breaking a leg in all the moon craters they build and that I now have to level out every couple of days. I also sprinkle either DE or stall dry about once a week and am surprised to not have a fly problem as it's so humid here, but it also rains alot even tho the run is covered; it comes down in buckets, so it still gets wet. But I think drying it out is key as far as the flies are concerned.

    Welcome, and enjoy the ride!
  10. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
    I live in the city and faced the same problems as you are in.

    Flies are bad at this time of the year but DE and Stall Dry does the trick and no wet spots be allowed or cleaned up or put down lime. I mainly have dirt and it drains well. My yard several feet down is hard clay. I put down garden lime after it rains. Then once it dries, I put down DE and Stall Dry.

    As for rats, I use Jaquar rodent baits and within the week, it stunk high heaven under the shed next to the coop and we found six dead sewer rats. UGH! They gnawed underneath the coop floor and rubber matting, five holes in total and I decided to throw some more baits and only fill enough food for the girls to eat all day and almost empty by nighttime.

    Feed treats in the morning or early evening, knowing that they will clean it up. If anything else left out, just go out and clean it up and throw in garbage.

    I must keep up with the battles with the rats, living in the city, have to keep putting down baits.

    My father suggested a foot of pea gravel, rodents hate to burrow thru that and they rather go on top or anything like that. Hardware wire all bottom of coop would be a good start.

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