Is straw ok for bottom of chicken run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by slfiggins, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. slfiggins

    slfiggins Out Of The Brooder

    May 21, 2010
    I have a 6'x10' chicken run. When I put my chickens out there back in April is was full of grass. Now there is no grass, just dirt. When it rains it fills with muddy water. Plus, it is starting to smell with the build up of manure. Wondering if it would be ok to lay down a thick layer of straw on the ground. I know they love pecking the ground but I feel like something needs to be done.

    I am a newbie so any suggestions would be appreciated!
  2. Germaine_11.20

    Germaine_11.20 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 6, 2009
    I tried that and it was great at first but eventually it also turns to muck and yuk and is worse than just the mud which dries out better.

    I decided to dig my runs out and replace the top 8-12" with sand. It was awful trying to get the straw up and I don't recommend it.

    I love the sand and it was not expensive. I bought 16 yards (?) of it through the sand and gravel pit.

    The chickens stay much drier and cleaner and I only have to rake it out when the feathers and poop build up and that will depend on how many you have in each run.
  3. hchorselover

    hchorselover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2010
    that's exactly what I do. And when it gets dirty I scoop it up and put it around my trees/plants. [​IMG] And it's free! (well if you get it from your yard)
  4. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 4, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    My run is gravel and earth topped with a nice layer of fine wood chips. When it gets a bit poopy I rake it over and put more wood chips on top. Seems to work pretty well. I reckon I'll probably have to dig it out totally and replace it all after a year or so but it's fairly clean just now after six months.

    Straw gets slimy when wet and it's difficult to clean out. Also it can look clean and dry on top but be gross and mouldy underneath. I use it in my nesting boxes (on top of wood shavings) but not for anything else...
  5. AllTheseCreatures

    AllTheseCreatures Chillin' With My Peeps

    I love and use straw because it decomposes quickly, yet keeps the smell down and I've got a ready supply of compost (you should see my tomatoes) all year. But my run sits on very sandy soil and the run is covered to keep the rain out. I add new straw once a month.

    I would put down some gravel or sand or add a roof to help with the mud (and anything else you can do to help with the drainage issue) and add some shaving for litter. If you have muddy water in your coop I don't think it will matter what litter you have. It will be a smelly mess.
    1 person likes this.
  6. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    So far, I've tried wood shavings and straw in the run and then my husband finally got me a big load of sand, and I have to say that stuff is THE BEST! No more mud ever, and I just go out and use a kitty litter scooper and scoop the poop up. Sometimes I even hose down the sand to make it cooler for the hens with his heat. I often rake it to smooth it out so it looks nice if I'm getting visitors.....

    So that's my recommendation--SAND!
  7. mcostas

    mcostas Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 2, 2010
    I would like to see pics of y'alls runs! I have been putting down leaves and debris from my debris pile. I hesitate to call it compost because all that is there are leaves and debris that I get from the bags people are nice enough to leave by the curb! It was too much for my compost heap so I piled them along the back of the fence. I have a hardware cloth hoop for my "working" pile. This is mostlly to keep the dogs (and now chickens) from eating the scraps I put in the heap. It was so deep it was not composting so I removed some. I save my kitchen scraps and cover them with a forkful of leaves.

    This isn't what I put in the coop though, I put the leaves along the fence there. Just a few forkfuls. I remove it and put fresh in every day or so. I rake it out and put it in the working pile. The leaves need added nitrogen so the chicken litter should help make it good.

    I am using a portable tractor right now but I think with my small number of chooks (4) I can make a more permanant coop and run. I think I would build mine up with sand if I started having a problem.
  8. 33yardbirds

    33yardbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2010
    Southern New Jersey
    We put straw in our run and it works out fine, the chickens scratch all through it looking for their BOSS and scratch. When we clean out the run it is all thrown on the compost heap. What makes it work so well for us is that we live in the Pine Barrens, its like they're living at the beach, sand, sand, and sand.

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