Hello, I’ve just signed up and really enjoyed Pat’s article on keeping your girls warm in winter. I live 800 feet above sea level( above snow line) in North Wales and I have 10 lovely hens. A white Sussex, a warran,and 8 Rhode Island Red Cross. I don’t keep cockerels any more as I have a large enclosed run and found that 2 of the 3 I’ve had over the years see me as a threat and attack. My girls are good layers and happy but the run used to be part of my vegetable garden so it gets so muddy I worry they’ll get infections from wet muddy feet. Last year I bought 6 thick rubber perforated horse mats which have helped in the feeding area and entrance. I’ve read somewhere that putting dried hard wood branches etc through a chipper makes good non bacterial attractive ground cover that lets the hens dig and scratch but is much drier and healthier than mud. I can’t let them into the orchard as the badgers, starts and foxes would get them ( and have done in the past). So any advice on what’s the most effective ground cover in an open uncovered run without breaking the bank would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks.