Keeping outdoor runs healthy In wet climates..

Bedtime-story

In the Brooder
Dec 3, 2018
4
19
21
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.
 

Bedtime-story

In the Brooder
Dec 3, 2018
4
19
21
Yes, they’re in what was part of my walled vegetable garden. There are quite a few fruit bushes in one corner and a couple of waterproof shelter for them, but the mud is a big problem.
 

feathermaid

Egg Obsessed
Feb 5, 2018
3,126
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942
Northwest Oregon
My Coop
My Coop
Chickens are very susceptible to mud-born pathogens and a wet environment is a breeding ground for coccidiosis. It's important to have some dry areas for your chickens to hang out, even some roosts at different levels in the run would be much appreciated by your hens.

I think I have a pretty good system for keeping the mud at bay. We get a lot of rain here in Oregon. In addition to my coop, I have enclosed covered runs and also a weather-exposed yard where they are contained most of the time. I "borrowed" my mud management idea from Newland Poultry in the UK
https://www.newlandpoultry.com/muddy-chicken-runs

What makes this system work is that the ground (mud) and the surface material (wood chips) is kept separate by a sturdy barrier. I laid PVC poultry netting and attached to the ground using garden pins, then put my wood chips on top. My wood chips never get mixed with the muddy ground below! It's amazing!
112.jpg

112b.jpg

We had a large tree on our property cut down and I had the tree-cutter guys leave me all the contents from the wood chipper. It's all spread very thick and I do rake them level from time to time. Chickens seem happy and healthy and not muddy!
20180825_123757.jpg 113.jpg 112c.jpg

I've written about it in another thread with a little more detail: Deep Litter with Chickens AND Ducks? and also some follow-up posts.
 

Melky

Spring has sprung!
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
4,157
20,262
962
Edgewood, KY
Peat is most recommended as best product to eliminate ammonia from manure to prevent ammonia toxicity. Its also easy to scoop. I also placed landscaping fine pine mulch in my run. Fall leaves while I have them cuz free. I use what I have at the time but will keep peat all the time. Can see article on ammonia toxicity in chickens. https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/ammonia-toxicity-in-chickens.74475/
 

Grits&Eggs

Songster
Apr 16, 2018
447
917
192
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
What makes this system work is that the ground (mud) and the surface material (wood chips) is kept separate by a sturdy barrier. I laid PVC poultry netting and attached to the ground using garden pins, then put my wood chips on top. My wood chips never get mixed with the muddy ground below! It's amazing!
OMG, I love this, I tried sand, leaves, bought mulch, looked great for about two days, but this is genius!! thanks!!
 

Melky

Spring has sprung!
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
4,157
20,262
962
Edgewood, KY
Chickens are very susceptible to mud-born pathogens and a wet environment is a breeding ground for coccidiosis. It's important to have some dry areas for your chickens to hang out, even some roosts at different levels in the run would be much appreciated by your hens.

I think I have a pretty good system for keeping the mud at bay. We get a lot of rain here in Oregon. In addition to my coop, I have enclosed covered runs and also a weather-exposed yard where they are contained most of the time. I "borrowed" my mud management idea from Newland Poultry in the UK
https://www.newlandpoultry.com/muddy-chicken-runs

What makes this system work is that the ground (mud) and the surface material (wood chips) is kept separate by a sturdy barrier. I laid PVC poultry netting and attached to the ground using garden pins, then put my wood chips on top. My wood chips never get mixed with the muddy ground below! It's amazing!
View attachment 1606441
View attachment 1606442
We had a large tree on our property cut down and I had the tree-cutter guys leave me all the contents from the wood chipper. It's all spread very thick and I do rake them level from time to time. Chickens seem happy and healthy and not muddy!
View attachment 1606452 View attachment 1606451 View attachment 1606449

I've written about it in another thread with a little more detail: Deep Litter with Chickens AND Ducks? and also some follow-up posts.

How do you meet dust bathing needs?
 

Bedtime-story

In the Brooder
Dec 3, 2018
4
19
21
Oh thank you. What a brilliant idea. And all the photos have helped convince my husband that we need to get the pvc netting etc. Also on Newlandspoultry.com where the idea came from, they even sell specially designed bird baths and special bird sand so I can see what my Christmas present will be this year! Thank you again. And I can also put some different level roosts as suggested -though I do have 2 mini ‘Sheds ‘ for shelter about 2-3 feet high and 6 ft square but they don’t seem interested in going on top, though they do shelter there from the rain.
 

feathermaid

Egg Obsessed
Feb 5, 2018
3,126
23,288
942
Northwest Oregon
My Coop
My Coop
How do you meet dust bathing needs?
Oh, they have so many spots! The covered run areas have bare dirt floors... two sides with pine shavings, and under the coop has natural sand, all of which stay dry. They also come out to free range most days, but sometimes only in the evenings. There, they have chosen several locations, but the favorite lately is my flower pot (I don't know why because it's so small). I'm thinking of just moving it to their run. Actually, there's no chance anything will ever grow back in there now so I might just put more dirt in and move it there today!
bath1.jpg bath2.jpg
 
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feathermaid

Egg Obsessed
Feb 5, 2018
3,126
23,288
942
Northwest Oregon
My Coop
My Coop
Oh thank you. What a brilliant idea. And all the photos have helped convince my husband that we need to get the pvc netting etc. Also on Newlandspoultry.com where the idea came from, they even sell specially designed bird baths and special bird sand so I can see what my Christmas present will be this year! Thank you again. And I can also put some different level roosts as suggested -though I do have 2 mini ‘Sheds ‘ for shelter about 2-3 feet high and 6 ft square but they don’t seem interested in going on top, though they do shelter there from the rain.
Awesome! Glad I could be of service :D

It will still require some maintenance now and then, but hopefully all will work out!
 

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