Need help with my duck run, to hard, to mucky, to nasty!


Jul 1, 2020
Small town in Washington
I have been talking with other very experienced members about my duck run, and bumble foot. My ducks kept getting bumble foot, and I was suggested to put fine screened mulch down, because the ground in my run was really hard on there feet, giving them bumble foot. I looked online, and found a few places that had fine screened mulch I could get in bulk, but since Covid, money has been tight, and I can't buy a whole load of mulch for my duck coop. That would be something my family would think was a waste of money. In that case, just not happening.

I do have a friend who has a mill, and has a large pile of wood chips from his chipper at his house, but they are just chips that have be breaking down, and aren't really gone help with softness I feel like. Plus, I also have a rain, problem, we get ALOT of rain, it will be dry, dry, dry, and then when the rain comes, it comes hard, and everything gets super wet, and it doesn't stop raining for awhile. So, with the chips, I feel like they are just gonna decompose into the ground, and give me mud again. Plus, then, they track mud it not the coop, and water, which turns the coop into the same material of the run, no matter how many shaving I put down, and layer up. If the run is nasty, muddy, and smelly, the coop is too.

Is there a way I could solve my mud problem, my ground hardness problem, all at the same time? Is there something I could use instead of the mulch so I didn't have to spend a bunch of money? I am at loss! I can post pictures if needed! And pics of the decomposing wood chips I am being offered!
Thanks for any suggestions! Avery
Mar 26, 2020
Southern Vermont
How about sand? Or a sand wood chip mix, You could fluff it up with a rake to keep from compacting. It can be bought by the bag, or if you Can ask a landscaper or excavator locally they can point you to where to get it from a pit. We have a big horse show here locally every summer, their pads are made of sand and ground carpet. It packs to only a certain density to give the horses, firm, consistent footing, but provide cushion when they jump. If you were nearby they have about 2000 yards in a pile they just scraped off to replace with new.


Not A Care In The World !
Premium Feather Member
Jun 11, 2020
In a perfect world sand would be a wonderful thing. I would like nothing better then to be able to use sand to improve the wet muddy conditions that I have been battling. I don't feel the rewards out way the risks of using it, Sorry.

Depending on the type of wood chips? They can be sharp and pointed and could cause more bumble foot issues because or it. Wood chips and wood shavings are two very different things because of how they are made.

I don't know if there is a cheap and economical way to solve the muddy issues without making a bigger mess to have to clean up later. If there is, I would love to know about it. :)

Just a thought out loud, I know leaves are not a perfect solution but might be better then straw for a cheap ground cover. :confused:

Please post pictures, pictures are always helpful. That might spark some ideas from other members that could help your situation. Best of luck.
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Nuttier than a squirrels stash
Premium Feather Member
Mar 9, 2014
Northern Colorado
I have been putting as many leaves in my runs as I.can get my hands on.
I keep a leaf rake in the run and fluff it up every morning. I will add wood chips IF I can find them inexpensive and aged.
My run is covered so the leaves are staying mostly dry.

Not sure there is a free(ish) fix for open runs.


May 6, 2020
Lawrence, KS
Yes, wood chips eventually break down, but it takes awhile, and in the meantime, it's way better than mud. And if they're free--I'd definitely take them. I have woodchips in my duck run, and whenever it starts getting too muddy, I just dump another load on (our farm used to belong to a guy who had a tree-trimming business so we have mountains of wood chips).


Not A Care In The World !
Premium Feather Member
Jun 11, 2020
Would the actually eat them? I can't quite imagine that.....
Yes unfortunately, I rake up everything I can and still have to chase one or two ducks down that has an Acorn they are nibbling on.

Duck mommy 2019

Apr 1, 2019
can if let them free range? i have a fenced in yard in the city so it’s super safe during the day, and nobody has gotten bumblefoot (except one of my pekin, but that was a genetic issue(


Jun 6, 2019
I'm not sure what part of Washington you live in, but I live in western WA and the rain will be a problem all winter if your run is not covered. Is it possible that you can cover it with something? Even if it was just tarps for the wettest part of the winter, that would help. I think if you post pictures of your set-up you will get the best help. I have tried sand but it didn't work for me. It's very hard to clean their poop off of. My sand didn't drain well and I was always picking up poop and having to replace sand. Plus it stinks! But I know some people do have success with it. I have part river rock pebbles in my run that I can easily hose off, and part wood shavings. When I let my ducks outside of their run to free range they walk on actual wood chips that I've had delivered for free. They actually love to dig around in these chips, and though I worry about their feet, I can't keep them out of them. I think they do soften with time. I have dealt with several cases of bumblefoot and can't tell exactly what it's coming from, because I had it even when I had sand instead of pebbles and shavings. In a perfect world the ducks would run around on grass all the time, but that seems pretty near impossible.

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