I have a swamp! Please help!

ironcity83

In the Brooder
May 25, 2016
12
0
25
I've never had this problem, but we have lately been getting a lot of rain. I throw my grass clippings into the run and my 20 hens love picking and digging in them. With all the rain the clippings have seemingly aided in water retention in the run and turned it to a swamp. They free range for a good part of the afternoon but seem unhappy when in the run. Has anyone had this problem? Is there anything I can do short of shoveling about 8" of composted grass out of the run? Thanks in advance.
 

SunHwaKwon

Crowing
Jul 19, 2015
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North Central Florida
I would flip it and also start adding other stuff like leaves and twigs, weeds, etc to give it bulk and texture. I assume the grass is forming mats/sheets, and with it being wet the girls can't turn it properly. A bit of mulch and/or gravel or course sand might help as well.
 

ironcity83

In the Brooder
May 25, 2016
12
0
25
This may sound stupid, but do you mean just the mulch that you would use for a flower garden? Like the black stuff? Thanks.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
8 Years
Sep 13, 2011
20,599
30,433
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southern Michigan
I use bagged shavings, sold for horse bedding, and then other stuff as it appears. It sounds like there's a drainage problem that should be fixed, and roofing helps a lot! Mary
 

ironcity83

In the Brooder
May 25, 2016
12
0
25
Drainage in the run is usually pretty good. Just seems like the clippings are maybe keeping the water from draining. I might try some sand this weekend.
 

SunHwaKwon

Crowing
Jul 19, 2015
5,610
2,655
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North Central Florida
Yeah you may need to just remove the clippings. I ran into a similar issue a few winters ago when I covered the snow with straw. It was such a horrible soggy mess afterward. The straw trapped all the water in there so I had to rake and shovel out loads of heavy soppy stinky straw. Since I started the grass, leaves, etc though I haven't had any issues, even in winter. Are you letting the grass dry out a bit before adding it to the run? I have started using hay as well and it works really well. My run is ~750sq ft and I get a bale about once a month since I don't have a lot of clippings and stuff to add right now.
 

Sophocles

In the Brooder
Mar 15, 2017
46
22
39
I don't know about sand, I'd imagine the fine particles will still just clump up with the grass.

I imagine what's happening is usually the clippings you put in get turned by your chickens and it just gradually dries out evenly, but the excess water is making it clump together. Adding 'brown material' (as its referred to in composting, e.g. wood shaving, dry leaves, any dry organic material really) would both help with absorbing some of that water as well as provide some larger structures to help them. It'd create a miniature compost heap that your chickens should enjoy again, if you turn it once afterwards.
 

Narvik

Hatching
Jun 3, 2017
8
2
9
Hei, I live in Norway where rain can get pretty unpredictable. You have to sort out if your problem is accidental or if the drainage is the problem. You could remove the clippings and wait for better weather. Or you could drain your coop. I have used lots of hours to drain my property and it's still work in progress. If you start any drainage work, do not underestimate the problem. Double any drain size recommended and get done. Whenever garden areas are too moist I add sand, soil or organic substrate if the area seems to be dry.
Peter
 

SunHwaKwon

Crowing
Jul 19, 2015
5,610
2,655
407
North Central Florida
I don't know about sand, I'd imagine the fine particles will still just clump up with the grass.

I imagine what's happening is usually the clippings you put in get turned by your chickens and it just gradually dries out evenly, but the excess water is making it clump together. Adding 'brown material' (as its referred to in composting, e.g. wood shaving, dry leaves, any dry organic material really) would both help with absorbing some of that water as well as provide some larger structures to help them. It'd create a miniature compost heap that your chickens should enjoy again, if you turn it once afterwards.
Generally you use construction sand because it is more course than play sand. You want to choose what you add so that it complements what is already there, ie it may not do as much good if your soil is already very sandy. Sandy soils are known to drain pretty well, as does the beach when the tide goes out or after a heavy rain. When it comes to drainage, particle size is only half the story; the most important factor is pore size and collective pore space. Something that will create create pores in the soil and also between the blades of grass will help with the drainage. However, you do also want to add in the organic material to help with texture and matting.
 

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