Mud Pit Coop help!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by wroblow, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. wroblow

    wroblow In the Brooder

    May 16, 2008
    Portland, OR
    I live in the Pacific NW and, needless to say, it rains here quite a bit. The soil under my run is probably the worst clay soil I've ever seen and it turns into a spongy mess of poo and water anytime it rains.

    Half of the run is covered and, because there's not much sun this time of year, doesn't get much sun at all right now.

    I recently laid about 3 inches of pea gravel and 2 inches of sand in the run which seemed to fix the issue, for about 3 weeks.

    Now I'm back to soggy poo in the run. Should I 'turn' the gravel? hose the poo down? I wish I could let the hens run around the yard, but it's not fully fenced and raccoons roam my neighborhood in full daylight!

    Here are pictures of my coop/run, any advice would be wonderful!


    This is the size of the run and it's location, but the first picture shows the "updated" coop.

  2. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Nice sturdy looking coop setup!
    I live in the PNW too, here are my suggestions: Do whatever you can to get that run covered. You could use clear panels, a tarp, some plywood. Create a slope to the roof by putting a board either on one side or in the middle. Looks like you have wire over the top, too--that is good for raccoons. Figure out the windward side of the run and put boards or plastic partway up the side to keep rain from blowing in--if the roof slopes that way, that's best too, to keep splash out of the run. The biggest help to me has been using a nice thick layer (like 6") of woodchip in the run. I get it for free from tree-trimming companies. I would give that a try. If you have a place to store a pile you can tarp the pile and top off the run once in a while. I don't even see the poo anymore unless it is fresh!My plan is to rake the whole thing out, compost it, and replace with fresh chip in the spring.
  3. I hear you..we're just coming out of a 'weather bomb' of high winds, heavy snow and rain. If our run were not roofed, we'd be in a quagmire topped by slush.

    I'd be tempted to put something like railway ties or untreated 4x4's around the outside of the wire on your run and raise the level with more sand...if it worked before maybe getting the amount right is an issue. If you think your birds are scratching it away you could even put up a barrier about 12" high to keep it in without impairing the drainage...[​IMG]

    You could also give your birds a plaform-

    One way to make it would be to put a patio block, or two, on top of cinder blocks.

    Another would be to make a wooden 'table' where they can perch to keep dry.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2009
  4. birdbrain2

    birdbrain2 Songster

    Dec 25, 2008
    belleville, IL.
    yes i too would raise it up a little, dig out about 3-6 inches of clay and add some gravel about 3-6" then top it off with sand, the deeper the better. and create some barrier so it doesn't wash away.
  5. RendonRoo

    RendonRoo Songster

    Feb 7, 2009
    ft. worth
    I think that if you add the rock when the dirt is dry it won't sink into the mud as bad. Otherwise it will just dissapear. I know it doesn't help when you have a mud hole but may help when it dries. Good Luck
  6. Tony K T

    Tony K T Crowing

    Jul 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I would dig down about 6"-8" and fill it back in with masonry sand.This will filter the water down threw the ground and not look so messy.Plus your birds will eat some sand for grit.But I also agree with a cover,something that will repel rain but still let in the sun.
    In N.H.,Tony.
  7. wroblow

    wroblow In the Brooder

    May 16, 2008
    Portland, OR
    Thank you for all of the replies!

    I hadn't thought of woodchip.....that may be what I try first because the coop has wire on the bottom too (to keep out those dang burrowing rats!), so I can't dig down to fill it. I think there are usually post about free woodchips on that should be a nice cheap (free!) fix.

    Half of the run is covered and it seems to not be such a mess....I will cover the other half too (I was afraid of blocking out the sun). [​IMG]

  8. Machelle the chellbug!

    Machelle the chellbug! In the Brooder

    Jun 10, 2008
    well!! I have the same problem at times.. when it rains it can be such a mess! I have a great half covered area in the coop run, and have added rock myself, but when the chickens get to digging holes the rock gets pushed aside:idunno I have been bringing home hay from the horse barn...lots of seeds and as they spread it around it absorbs most of the mud! I bring home a feed bag full a week..and it's something you can rake up and put in the compost if you want to clear it out when the ground dries up!....but I can at least walk in the run without the mucky mud. good luck![​IMG]
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I would put down a foot of coarse wood chippings or coarse bark mulch for now (make real sure they are not moldy, nor so fresh that they will mold in your run). That will raise the chickens up above the tidemark, so to speak. And for sure cover the whole run, and the upwind side too if rain tends to blow in.

    Then this summer when things are drier, remove the woodchips or whatever you used (they will be an excellent soil amendment or mulch if composted for another month or two) and replace with a good DEEP layer of gravel. DO NOT dig out clay under the run - you will be creating a 'bathtub' that'll make the wetness and smell worse. Just try to build up above grade. If you really want to make certain it's fixed, level the clay AT (not below!) the surrounding grade level, tilted a bit to one side for drainage, and put down pavers, and then top them with 8-12" of sand, gravel, that sort of thing (with retention boards all around).

    You might also look at the possibility of digging a small trench/swale around part or all of the coop and run to divert surface water to another, lower area. If any such area is accessible.

    Good luck, have fun,


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