Idea for composting run...Will this work???

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by dldolan, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. dldolan

    dldolan WineNChooks

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    Aug 11, 2010
    Sonoma County, CA
    Let me pose this here and see if anyone can tell me if they do something similar...

    I am trying to figure out how to do a deep litter, outdoor run here in Northern California. I have completely enclosed an old pony shelter (enclosed on three sides & covered 10x12x 8ft high) for my hens plus another 15 ft by 8 ft, making their run pretty big if they have to stay in (usually they are out in my orchard). The henhouse is inside this big space, but built up four feet above ground so they go up the ladder to sleep and lay, so have the whole open "down" space to roam around in (sort of makes an "L" shape). 1/2 of this big space gets wet (or really wet after last weekend's 6 inches of rain!) as it is open to the weather.

    Issues: -The floor of the "L" shaped run has shale gravel & dirt in the bottom as this is what they had for the drainage for the pony
    -It is sloping downhill away from the run/coop towards the garden creating a little bit of a muddy corner. Otherwise drainage is fine, but it is wet in wet season!
    -We just started rainy season, so rain off and on now through April, then NO rain for 6 months. Temp won't go much below freezing and if so, only for a couple of hours. Cold winter days will still be up to mid-forties by afternoon, and normally around 60*.

    OK, so here's my idea: I put down a layer of sand to help with drainage, then DE sprinkled, then garden grade mulch 4-6 inches...then toss in my sycamore and pear tree leaves for the girls to scratch around in when they can't go out, plus the normal "chicken scraps" they get from the kitchen. Should I be able to make the hens happy, & have compost every year? I can take off half the mix the girls make every Dry season and put it in one of my compost bins for further action before turning it into the garden. I can also replace the garden-grade mulch a few times during rainy season if needed (if it gets too muddy?), and toss it in the compost pile... Wanted results: I need to give the hens something dryer than mud and muddy shale gravel in the open area of the run, and am trying to think how to let the hens make garden mulch for me!

    Thoughts? Any would be greatly appreciated. Here are photos so you have a better idea...

    Here is the corner that gets muddy--where the red chair is...
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    Here is the shelter on left and run on right
    [​IMG]

    Here is the inside of the coop (back cleaning door view)--raised 4 ft up, with wire mesh on the botton so if the girls poop from the roosts it falls through or cleans through the bottom wire very easily... (Roosts are above this door height, so you are just looking in to the nexting boxes. Chicken door on the terrace on the left.)
    [​IMG]
     
  2. SandyK

    SandyK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Eldersburg, Maryland
    I have a regular dirt run and love putting mulch down to give the girls something to scratch around in. Also, I throw a bale of opened straw in and let them scratch in that too. It all eventually gets turned and turned then breaking down into nice rich soil. Yes, I have put some in my compost pile too. Now our leaves are falling like crazy, I just take the leaf blower and blow them right into the run, as many as I can. Then DH also dumps a bag or two from the tractor, leaves and grass mixed for them to go through. All makes for that nice rich black dirt we love for our gardens.
     
  3. dldolan

    dldolan WineNChooks

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    Aug 11, 2010
    Sonoma County, CA
    Yippee. Glad to hear this idea may very well work! (not sure how I managed to post the same thing twice, though. OOPS.) How often to you remove a layer of this compost, or do you remove it all at once? (I read somewhere else not to take all of it...) How long do your girls take to make nice garden compost?? Thanks!
     

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