Need run flooring advice for a hot, humid, flood-prone yard in Florida

guesswhatchickenbutt

Songster
10 Years
Mar 5, 2009
368
22
131
Central FL
I've spent the morning researching as much run flooring advice as possible on BYC and I think that using limestone gravel with playsand on top might be my best option, but I still have a couple of questions.

My chickens have a tractor-type run that I put them in everyday. I move it around the yard so they have fresh grass every other day. Their coop does not have an attached run, but I am planning on building one (with no building skills whatsoever - LOL).

Right now I have the most absurd ritual. Every morning I go to the coop and load up the hens (only 3 of them) in a large tupperware container with a wire "roof" that sits in my sons' red wagon. I then pull the red wagon over to the chicken run and take the lid off the container and the hens hop out and into the run. Every night I load 'em up and roll 'em back to the coop. As odd as this is, it allows them to have a fresh place in the yard each day and it's working for us - LOL.

But I know there will be days where I'm busy or sick or life just gets in the way and I can't get out there to transport them to their run. On these days I'd love to know they have an attached run they can peck around in and arent' stuck in their coop all day.

Back to my issues:

I live in Florida. It's painfully hot. They pant almost all the time this time of year. They have some shade, but it can be in the 90s in the shade. It's hot, humid and stinky after they've been in one spot for just one day. Our yard is very prone to flooding and we have major standing water issues. We cannot afford to replace our entire yard, which is what several contractors have told us it'd take (well build it up and re-sod it) to stop the flooding.

So... is limestone gravel and play sand my best option? Do I scoop the poop out? How often? Is it easy to scoop out from the sand??

When it rains here in FL it often rains heavy and sideways, so I don't think a roof would be my best option on the run. Unless the sides were covered I don't see how it would do much good... but I'm worried about them cooking in the direct sun too. Ugh - so much to think about. I do have the luxury of only having three chickens and I can take my time to think about what I want to do... but I'm low on building skills and cash so I have got to pick a way and stick with it - LOL.

Thanks for any advice!
 

verlaj

Songster
10 Years
Jan 31, 2009
790
11
159
Micanopy, Florida
I feel your pain, and will be interested to see what others suggest. I am in Florida also, not in a flood prone area, but with clay soil that doesn't drain well. I also have a roofed, but open-sided coop and the rain blows in and gets almost the entire floor soaked at times. In our recent torrential rains, I had to bring a hen with newly hatched chicks into the house to protect them from this, and I still have about 30 chicks in my den for the same reason!

Mine get to be out free ranging most days, but not all.

My solutions to some of the climate issues so far:

I have planted trees or tall shrubs on 3 sides of the coop to provide shade from the sun when in angles in the sides. The roosts are high (4 ft) so they can get up closer to the roof to be out of the rain if it is blowing in at night. They could get out of the sun the same way, but they don't. They follow the shade on the floor during the day if they are kept in the coop.

I use recycling bins on the floor with a piece of plywood on top. The nests stay dry for the most part - plastic base and 3 sides, with the opening turned toward the center of the coop, and covered on top.

Soon, we are going to fill the base of the coop with sand. I am planning on getting a truckload, tearing open one side of the coop, and filling it using a front-end loader. Our coop is pretty spacious - maybe 15' x 15' - so we need lots of sand to make it deep. I am not going to use limerock, because it does not drain well. I'm not sure whether I will top the sand with shavings, straw, or nothing right now. Whatever organic bedding I put in will get wet and maybe it is better not to have anything.

When we rebuild the coop, we will still have open sides for the ventilation and to help keep it cool, but will lower the roof and extend the eaves to protect from wind and sun coming in the sides.

You might want to look at the coop building project on the Greenfire Farms website (http://www.greenfirefarms.com/blog/entry/building-a-chicken-coop). They are in Florida also, though I think in the northern part.

Good luck!
 

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