I need all the ground cover options for my run

Double Yolked

Nov 7, 2017
Pacific Northwest USA
My girls really loved sand and natural top soil. The native plants spread through the topsoil and they like bulldozing that... but the sand, closer to and under the hen house, seems to help a lot with drainage. The only down side I've found is it needs to be periodically replaced. But as river sand is cheap here I'm OK with that as well as poop sifting.


Sep 21, 2020
We have wood chips, and the coop always smells fine because the sprinklers soak the run every day and the poop drains through them. I've had many different types of substrate in the past, but I like woodchips the best, however it largely depends on thee circumstance. good luck!!

Happy hen lover

Jan 14, 2021
SW Nebraska
I like wood chips and dried leaves. I have a raised coop so they can dust bathe under coop.
I did lay down straw once during snowstorm and I hate straw as it turned rock hard they can't even move that layer of dirt.


Aug 26, 2020
Hey all! I have finished my coop, just finished my run. My 11-12 week olds have now been out in their coop for a week and are super happy! It's time to get them out into their run as well. I need to hear from all of you experienced chicken keepers what your favorite, most affordable ground cover for the run is?

I've heard:
Wood chips
Deep litter method
Top soil
Mixture of sand and stone

Here's my dilemma! I really like the idea of sand or a sand/stone mixture. But for the size of my run the cheapest delivery I can find will run me at least $400. I don't have that right now. I put the majority of my funds into safety for the coop and the run and it has left me a bit short. So now I'm looking into the most creative ways people have found to get cheap sand/stone for their run.

My mom suggested taking sand out of the local sand pits. I told her I don't think that's legal 😂 nevermind the fact that I'd have to take a ton of trips back and forth with my minivan just to get the sand home.

My coworker suggested topsoil. This would certainly be cheaper but wouldn't it get nasty/muddy? My run will be covered with a tarp that I can fold back on sunny days for them to sun bathe and to dry damp areas but I still worry the rain will blow in the sides and make soil a mushy stinky mess.

My friend suggested concrete. I don't know a thing about that but it seems like not only would it be expensive but that would be zero fun for my babies. Rough on their feet, no dust bathing, no digging 😔 I don't like that idea..

Gravel alone I think would be too rough.

Wood chips/ wood shavings I feel would hold on to moisture and get nasty/stinky after a bit.

So I'm still down to wanting a mixture of sand and small stone. I feel that would be easier to clean, provide decent drainage and allow for dust bathing and digging.

So again, what are creative ways you've found to aquire your sand / sand stone mixture without having to sell a kidney? What are safe types of sand? Safe types of stone?

Thank you all! I apologize for rambling and the length of this post 😂
My runs are dirt. I have an aluminum roof and some plastic on the back and 1/2 of the sides. If my run gets wet or snowy I put in pine shavings. Mainly to keep wind heir feet dry. It also breaks down after a while. There is NO stink related to the shaving and it also makes cleanup easier. This works for them and me. Hope it helps.

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