Need help with a disgusting run! Blech

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by hokankai, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. hokankai

    hokankai Songster

    May 18, 2010
    SW WA
    I need some major help with our chicken run. I have 8 chickens in a 16x8 foot run that doesn't have a roof, has a little gravel as a substrate, and smells like a mixture of death, poop, and disease (lol). It doesn't smell like that on a regular basis, but today when I was cleaning out the henhouse I decided to "stir" the gravel (which was not it's the mixed sized gravel and is quite heavy) and WOW I was almost knocked over by the stench that was released. The ground in that area is clay soil, topped with a gravel/sand mixture, topped with our mixed sized gravel. The drainage is terrible, and there's actually a little ditch through the run for rain. How am I supposed to keep it clean?!?! There's poop just sitting on the surface of the gravel, and I don't know what to do about it. I'm considering putting some of that black cloth for weed control on top of the gravel and putting sand on top of that. Is this a good idea? How much sand would I need (in depth and in tons) to maintain a non-stinky run? Do I have to scoop the poop everyday? It's really rainy here and gets disgusting fast... but it's too late to build a roof on the run.


  2. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    With sand, I think you could rake it as needed, to clean it. I don't know how much you'd need or how it would settle into the gravel. If you put down fabric under the sand, I'd want a really think layer of sand on top, since they'll want to scratch in it. That would give you great drainage, though. You'd probably need something around the edge, to retain the sand, if you put in a really thick layer of sand on top. Just so it won't wash out.
  3. BlacksheepCardigans

    BlacksheepCardigans Songster

    Oct 11, 2010
    Southeast NH
    The dog people I talk to regularly in the PNW have settled on pavers over sand, hosed off daily. Everything else gets horrible eventually. You could also try digging out several feet of earth and laying a proper gravel and sand foundation and hoping that drains better, but once your water table is overwhelmed anything you dig, no matter how deep, just becomes a bucket full of water.
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Keep in's never too late to roof your run, especially since it's only 8 ft. wide. You wouldn't have to do a gable roof...just build up one end a foot or so, run 2 x 2 rafters down to the low end, and screw up metal roofing sheets.
    You could just add sand on top as you suggested (but as WW mentioned, you'd need to be sure to box it in to retain the sand), but I'd dig out the "gunk" and start over myself. I'd dig out as much as I could, run a length of the that black plastic drainage pipe w/holes in it down through the center (or wherever your main drainage issue is, lay down landscape fabric or something similar that allows drainage, put down a layer of small gravel, and then add several inches of sand on top of that. I'd buy sand from a gravel company of course, not by the bag - have them deliver if needed. I just couldn't stand the thought of that festering gunk under the newer
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I'd suggest a deeper depth of gravel or sand or roadbase or other type of chicken-friendly aggregate. That will let the nasty stuff percolate down far enough that it disappears better and more permanently. Personally I would not use landscape fabric under it, as it will perform no useful service and eventually get ripped up by chickens and likely *slow* the disappearance of the organics into the underlying soil.

    Dunno if you've seen my mud page (link in .sig below) but it has some discussion of dealing with a damp or skanky run that you might want to think about, too.

    Good luck, have fun,


  6. Chicken.Lytle

    Chicken.Lytle Songster

    Oct 19, 2010
    Montgomery County, TX
    Ah memories!

    This summer I spent a fortune (not a small one) on drainage. Some of my suggestions may be of use to you.

    Install a French Drain. Dig down a little and bury a perforated pipe (with a dirt sock).

    Bury the whole area under 5 to 8 inches of sand.

    Start a compost heap or a poo bucket.

    Collect droppings with a small bladed, long handled shovel and put it where it belongs.

    Quit stirring up the mess underneath!
  7. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    I'm in Carolina. We have nothing but hard packed clay and shale soil. Only thing I have to clean it is good ol' Mother Nature.

    If I was to put anything on top of it somebody (namely me) would either be stuck up to my knees in muck or slide acrossed it until hit the fence on the other side. Only thing I have ever put on top of it was hay bales that had been left in the rain for the chickens to pluck bugs out of.
  8. Laurieks

    Laurieks Where did the time go???

    Aug 14, 2009
    Sonoma County, CA
    find a lavender farmer who will give of sell you their chaff & old stuff; spread it out in the coop & cover with grass hay, straw, etc.
    Rake it out onto the nasty gravel when it gets too dirty for coop, replace in coop. Sprinkle Sweet PDZ (horse stall powder) on ground first.
    And defninitely roof.
    If you move the coop (I just did this), 'sheet mulch' it by putting down cardboard or newspaper over the nasty stuff & covering with straw or compost or old bedding, to make it into next spring's garden. Umm, this might not work on said gravel though, unless you built a raqised bed on it??
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  9. maizey

    maizey Songster

    I was going to do the whole sand and gravel thing too but the run (except for a small section, is open) was built over the "natural ground" which was composed of a lot of pine straw and leaf litter. I have noticed that the girls scratch away at this litter and the poo sort of disappears for the most part. I mean there are always "fresh ones" but no smell and no mess at all. They have been on this for about 2 months. This week, I raked it all up, hauled it to the compost pile and raked in an new layer of leaf and straw litter. I think Im going to continue this method, it seems to work. I only ever see fresh poo, it seems to self compost after a day or two, and the girls are entertained scratching through it, and they really have to work at it to get all the bits of their scratch feed. The true test will come in the heat and humidity of summer of course, but for now, Im happier about it than I thought id be.

  10. Ours had that happen a couple months back, and now again... due to several days of light/moderate rain. A downpour then dry out is no problem... or just dry of course... but prolonged sogginess leads to nasty bogginess.

    I get all poo outta the coop... then scatter a blanket of DE... the girls do NOT appreciate this at all... but my nose sure does.... only done this a couple times since we've had them, and still have TONS of DE from the bag we bought so not uber pricey. I wish we could free range or at least have a larger run... and maybe we can expand at least soon... but for now we have to accept that all that poo just slaughters anything living and with all the tramping around that ground is stuck being muck in rain...

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by