Muddy run, but I want the manure

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by wolfandfinch, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. wolfandfinch

    wolfandfinch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 5, 2011
    Vancouver BC
    So I live in Vancouver. I don't have my coop built yet, I'm in the planning stages.

    I plan to build my coop on a raised bed so that I can move it around after a year or two to fertilize all the beds. I understand that chickens will remove any sense of green life within minutes of being set free on the run. I also know they will trample it. I can build it with plenty of drainage, no problem since it's raised. I know they need some gravel in their run to keep up their gizzards. I was thinking of putting the gravel under the coop. Can I hvae just dirt everywhere else, or will it be a mud pit even with good drainage? Will it foster disease on their feet? People talk about woodchips, pavers etc but I want the manure to fertizile the soild so I can either use the bed later or dig it out to put on the compost and get ready for another bed...


  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    You do not need a gravel area in the run. You merely need to give them some grit of some sort, either scattered occasionally over the ground surface for them to pick up (if there's none naturally in your soil) or in a little free-choice container (e.g. empty tunafish can) mounted in the coop.

    Honestly though from what you say of your purposes I think you'd be a WHOLE big lot better off with a fixed coop from which you clean and compost the manure then ADD it to the garden.

    In a good moisture-retentive garden soil in a wet climate it may indeed become a serious mudpit despite the beds being raised. Also it is harder to predatorproof a coop up on a raised bed, particularly in terms of preventing things digging in. Also it is easy for chickens to do structural damage to the raised bed sides as they dig (and yes, chickens certainly DO dig, to scratch and to dustbathe)

    I really think you'd be better off manually relocating the manure, in exchange for being able to give the chickens better living conditions. If you are concerned about getting every last little bit of poo collected, including the run, put large pavers on the floor of the run and then cover them with 6" or so of straw or something similarly compostable, roof the run to keep excess rain off so it doesn't get too skanky, then clean the whole shebang off periodically to compost it. A droppings board under the roost will give you "pure poo" that can go directly into compost or into a fallow garden bed.

    JMHO, good luck, have fun,

  3. wolfandfinch

    wolfandfinch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 5, 2011
    Vancouver BC
    Quote:lots of great ideas here, thanks!

    Funny, I went to a Chickens 101 class (I know, funny!) and he said raised beds really helped with predators that dig under, since I can make the bed 1-2 feet above ground. I can see what you're saying though.

    I would much rather have happy chickens than my rotating coop idea, I'll look more into losing the raised bed idea...
  4. chick-in-florida

    chick-in-florida Chillin' With My Peeps

    moving coops around sounds like too much work! you'll get plenty of fertilizer just from scraping up from under wherever they sleep at night. put it in a bucket and dump it on your garden!
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Look at the bottom of Pat's post and check out the link to the muddy run page. It is good and may really help you in a Pacific Northwest climate.

    I don't know how big an area you are talking about or how many chickens you will have. If it is not too big, one thing I would consider is to build up the level of your run with sand, enclosed so it won't wash away too fast. Maybe some boards or edging around the perimeter of the run, but with drainage holes so it does not become a swimming pool. Some members of this forum regularly rake their sand run to collect the chicken poop. You might need to protect it from rain so it stays dry and the poop does not disintegrate. Along with what you get from a droppings board under their roost, that would make a great addition to your compost heap.
  6. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    Quote:I wonder if the person leading the class was talking about a raised, cage style coop with a wire bottom? I'm not a fan of this style of set up myself because I think wire is hard on a chicken's feet, and too many of the droppings get caught on the wire anyway to make this a simple method of manure management. If the openings in the wire are wide spaced enough, your birds can also have their toes and even feet bitten off by predators!

    I use a hardware cloth apron (or skirt) around the base of my runs to prevent predators from digging in. The apron is attached to the base of the run, extends outward about 2 feet, and is staked down using landscaping staples. Grass grows up through the wire and secures it further. The idea is that a predator will try digging at the edge of the run, hit the wire, but won't figure out it needs to back up 2 feet and start digging back there to get into the run.

    Putting a poop board or tray under the roost is a great way to collect more than half of a chicken's daily droppings, neatly collected for you in a single spot. I use plastic boot trays under the roosts that I empty out into my composter every morning. Most of the droppings are dry and roll right off; I use an old garden trowel to scrape off the wet cecal ones. I quick spray with the garden hose and the trays are clean and replaced in the coop.

    I use all purpose sand in my runs. It's easy to pick out droppings using a repurposed reptile sand scoop taped to a long handle so I don't have to bend over. The scoop sifts the droppings right out of the sand.

    The kind of gravel that you'd want to put in a chicken run wouldn't be the same kind of gravel that would be good as grit. Limestone grit (the kind usually used when you buy poultry grit) is pretty fine and has rough, irregular edges good for grinding food. If you put that kind of stones in the run, I would think it would be hard on the chicken's feet.
  7. kla37

    kla37 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2010
    Hillsborough, NC USA
    I have dirt in our run, and I dump a bunch of dried leaves in there every week. It's covered, and it may get a bit damp around the edges in really heavy rain, but pretty much stays bone dry.
  8. Robo

    Robo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 15, 2010
    I use deep litter method in my run and coop. I shovel it out every month at most.
  9. Chicklette 1

    Chicklette 1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 8, 2010
    I had a 4X4 pen to house my chickens during the day before I had the coop ready. it was made of 2x4's for the fame and the rest was 2 layers of chicken wire except for the bottom which had nothing. It was right in my back yard just outside my kitchen door so I could keep an eye on them as I would never consider it predator proof. However, my point is that the grass under the coop (which I moved every few days) did not get fertilized as the poop is too "hot" for it to be beneficial. In fact, it looked really bad. I'll see in the spring if it will come back. I did hose it down every evening after I brought the chicks in for the night. When they say that the chicken tractors have the benefit of fertilizing your ground, I do not agree. It needs to be composted.

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