HELP - wet sand/horrid smell

djdakine

Hatching
May 9, 2015
2
0
7
Been a lurker since my dad decided to just bring home 4 chicks. I never expected him to do anything, except brag to his friends we have fresh eggs. Sure enough, fast forward 1-year, it's a pretty smelly mess. He pretty much left the chicks in a small plastic tub , and was just going to cage them up as they got older- so after quickly skimming the forums and looking at all the designs, I had a 3'x10' run built. We have ZERO grass here, so it's just wood/raised coop off cement, with sand in the run.

We live in Hawaii - and where we live rains just a little bit 80% of the year. The placement of the coop - actually has very little sun to dry out the sand that gets wet. We thought the placement would reduce how much rain would get in, but of course I did not think that one through properly. I've replaced the sand 1x already, and have been waiting for some dry weather to dry it out before I did it again. But it's been rain, sun, rain, sun for nearly 6 weeks. now it's a smelly mess. I actually just ignored it hoping my parents would figure out how bad it is -- but nope, he seems fine to not do anything and just let it rot.

So I guess on the next cleanup. I intend to improve drainage. Use gravel only --is this ok?!? I know they need to clean the droppings daily - but I guess they want to wait until it dries up. Seeing how wet it is, it will never dry up. So i'm thinking with gravel only - they can just hose it down? But then I need to think about the water/droppings hose/run off.

I'll read through the forums again later today. But thought maybe if people have suggestions I could start buying items from Home Depot/Lowes tonight, and work on it tomorrow. I'll try to upload a picture of the coop, and the wet mess later today

pvc pipe drainage?

 
Last edited:

1muttsfan

Up Northerner
10 Years
Mar 26, 2011
21,744
9,405
787
Upper Peninsula Michigan
Welcome, and glad you joined in
smile.png


I don't use sand myself, and have heard that unless cleaned as often as daily it can become a stinky mess. Maybe there is something here that would help

https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/using-sand-in-your-chicken-coop

https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/444759/got-sand-you-should
 

thomasboyle

Songster
7 Years
Feb 28, 2013
935
317
186
NW Hills of CT
I have a sand run, and it will become a mess unless you take some precautions. I built my run on top of the existing ground (vs digging down into the existing ground), so it drains well like a raised bed garden. I built a box from 2x12's sitting upright on the ground, and filled it in with 8" sand. The ground should be sloped to a slight degree. Like a road, it looks flat, but it has a slope to allow water to run off. Can you cover the run? Mine was a muddy mess until I put a roof over it. Now it stays nice and dry.
 

yellowchicks

Chirping
5 Years
Jun 27, 2014
339
70
98
NJ
My Coop
My Coop
First thing, cover the run with a solid roof! Otherwise, you can never properly dry up the sand to clean it. Gravel is too hard for chicken to scratch, hosing it down will just wash the poop to elsewhere, expanding the stinky area.

Next is to build a raised sand bed as suggested by others so the top sand layer can stay dry.

Alternately, you can do deep litter method (DLM) in a raised bed on top of the existing sand layer once the sand is dry out. You want to have the surface runoff or moisture to pass through the bottom of the sand or the sloped ground beneath but not through the DLM or the top bedding layer. The edging is to keep the bedding material together, not spill out of the run and make more mess.

If doing DLM, use moisture absorbent materials such as wood chips or shaving, just keep mixing it with the chicken poop. Adding more shaving if it starts to smell. Every 6 months, remove the top bedding to compost (sand won't decompose), then add more shaving. Also use a poop board under the roosting bar, clean out most of the overnight poop everyday.

I applaud you for taking actions to improve the current situation. Hopefully the smell will go away soon, so both you and your chickens can enjoy a more pleasant living condition.
 

djdakine

Hatching
May 9, 2015
2
0
7
When you guys say a roof over it, I'm assuming what I have now works? I just uploaded the picture of it to the original message. I'm not the handy-man type, so my pops hired some guys to build it. And they really didn't do it exactly how I requested. The box where t he chickens sleep/lay eggs. I asked that the roof be sloped so the water would run off. So i've seen water puddle above. But inside is dry - so no issues as of yet. I'm assuming it'll be a long-term problem though.

Inside of it, I did make a mistake in terms of a poop board - under the roosting bar. So after I clean out the sand, i'll have to work inside that part of the coop also.

It's pretty much just cement everywhere on this property. I know a lot of the designs were built over dirt. But i've seen some designs that were built over cement. I believe they actually even laid down cement blocks, then dropped sand over it. So i'm guessing my issue is the slope for water run off? A lot of the water that gets into it is where the cover/door lifts up. If you can see the 3 black dots in the picture. I'm going to affix some tarp over that to try to limit how much water gets in. I believe its majority of the water. But it rains so much (seriously 6-8 bad weeks of rain where I am), that it'll just get blown in.

As for caring for it daily - that's just something i'll have to work on the old man. Just trying to keep it as dry as possible - so it doesn't become so muddy
 

beccaWA

Songster
8 Years
Feb 22, 2012
327
183
201
Eastern WA
I don't know why the "sand fad" has gained any traction. Hard to clean, smelly (as you've found out) and if it is in the sun, I mean.... have you ever walked barefoot on hot sand? (Being in Hawaii I'm sure you have!) Chickens are basically barefoot, and I just can't get over this sand thing. I'd use dirt or pine shavings, which are easier to clean.
 

yellowchicks

Chirping
5 Years
Jun 27, 2014
339
70
98
NJ
My Coop
My Coop
Been a lurker since my dad decided to just bring home 4 chicks. I never expected him to do anything, except brag to his friends we have fresh eggs. Sure enough, fast forward 1-year, it's a pretty smelly mess. He pretty much left the chicks in a small plastic tub , and was just going to cage them up as they got older- so after quickly skimming the forums and looking at all the designs, I had a 3'x10' run built. We have ZERO grass here, so it's just wood/raised coop off cement, with sand in the run.

We live in Hawaii - and where we live rains just a little bit 80% of the year. The placement of the coop - actually has very little sun to dry out the sand that gets wet. We thought the placement would reduce how much rain would get in, but of course I did not think that one through properly. I've replaced the sand 1x already, and have been waiting for some dry weather to dry it out before I did it again. But it's been rain, sun, rain, sun for nearly 6 weeks. now it's a smelly mess. I actually just ignored it hoping my parents would figure out how bad it is -- but nope, he seems fine to not do anything and just let it rot.

So I guess on the next cleanup. I intend to improve drainage. Use gravel only --is this ok?!? I know they need to clean the droppings daily - but I guess they want to wait until it dries up. Seeing how wet it is, it will never dry up. So i'm thinking with gravel only - they can just hose it down? But then I need to think about the water/droppings hose/run off.

I'll read through the forums again later today. But thought maybe if people have suggestions I could start buying items from Home Depot/Lowes tonight, and work on it tomorrow. I'll try to upload a picture of the coop, and the wet mess later today

pvc pipe drainage?


From the picture posted, I am guessing that runoff came from the earth bank, down the top concrete level, down along the stone wall, to the chicken coop slab. Some of the surface runoff probably seeped under the run get soaked up by the sand, while the rain water also get in from the top cover of the run. Sand does not work well being placed outdoor on top of the cement slab where it gets wet constantly, but can't drain or percolate properly through the cement slab, thus the smell.

How many chickens do you have? Can you post more pictures all around? Is there enough ventilation in the coop? Could you build a full height run to provide more ventilation and activity area?
 

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