New coop and pen on dirt...Need some advice

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by darncat, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. darncat

    darncat Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 8, 2011
    As i am brand new to hens, I have almost completed the construction of an enclosed pen. There is not one blade of grass just dirt and was wondering if I should put something down on the ground for my gals. Any suggestions? Sand? Hay? I am clueless. Please help.
     
  2. schellie69

    schellie69 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 8, 2009
    Kansas
    I would put sand down one it makes cleaning it easier. I have their pen right now in one place and it is a muddy mess. I am moving their pen and am planning on placing boards all around the edges and adding sand. I hate mud. Good luck. Just make sure that the place where the pen is drains well and doesn't end up with standing water.
     
  3. darncat

    darncat Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 8, 2011
    Thanks ! Is this just regular good ole sand? I do have a roof on my new coop/pen and had a bad storm last night and ran out at first light to see how it weathered. It is dry! YAY! In NC there is alot of red clay and rock...and it is nasty stuff. How deep should the sand be and if it is regular sand. I think I will end up smothering these hens with so much pampering...LOL...The whole pen/coop thing should be done today if the rain lets up and trying to figure how to post pics on here if anyone cares to see it. I was also thinking about running a small flower bed in front of the pen and planting leaf lettuce. Dont know if that is a good idea or not or leave it to a few flowers.
     
  4. Country Parson

    Country Parson Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Bellefontaine, OH
    All dirt is not equal. What kind of dirt do you have? What percentage sand? Silt? Clay? There is a couple of really easy and cool tests you can do to determine it. The higher the sand percentage the better off you will be. High silt, and especially high clay, will cause some problems. Silt can act more like clay (compacts, etc). You can just eyeball your dirt, but often people misunderstand what their looking at. A more exact test probably isn't necessary, but it is fun and informative (and may even keep you from having to buy expensive sand). If you want to be more sure, do the following:

    1. Shove a shovel blade deep into the dirt. Try to go down into the dirt at least 3/4 of the blade (you don't want to use just surface dirt).
    2. Fill a glass quart mason jar half-full with some this dirt.
    3. Add 1 teaspoon of dish soap (don't skip, this is important).
    4. Fill the rest of the jar with water, add lid
    5. Shake for 3-4 minutes, allowing the water/soap to thoroughly break everything down into particule size.
    6. Let sit for 3-4 days.

    Your jar should eventually form 4 distinct layers (assuming you have all three forms of dirt). From bottom to top these are: sand, silt, clay, water. The sand will settle to the bottom within minutes. The silt within several hours, and the clay will finally settle after a few days. This lets you 'eyeball' it to see percentage (using a ruler and some basic math, you can actually get an exact percentage).

    FYI, the perfect Garden soil is 40% sand, 40% silt, 20% clay. For your purposes you also want high sand and low clay.

    As far as adding other materials like straw (I wouldn't add hay. It's more expensive and a waste of rudiment animal feed), keep in mind whatever goes down much eventually come back up. I use straw in my hen house, but it is a pain. Lots of people don't like using it. I don't mind since I have a huge compost bin, and during winter I spread the soiled straw directly onto my garden.
     
  5. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    People use regular coarse sand. They use the sand for dust baths and eat the larger coarser peices for grit in crop. 4-6" would be enough, you'll add more after several raking clean-ups. So don't buy fine play sand rather go to a free source of plain old coarse sand or gravel/sand pit to buy bulk.
     
  6. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Our sand is the really coarse stuff, with a bit of pea gravel mixed in. We bought it from a rock/mulch company - very cheap. This is our first time using sand, as our big run is just dirt/grass. I LOVE the sand!! Most droppings just kind of disappear into it...those that don't kind of clump up like poop in a cat litter box. [​IMG]
     
  7. schellie69

    schellie69 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 8, 2009
    Kansas
    Since you have a high clay dirt I would invest in just plain sand we have a place where we can buy it by the ton, That is what I am going to use. It will help with drainage and the chickens love to dust bath in it also use it for grit so its a great thing to have. Plus the sand also dries the poo so its easier to clean. I would put at least 5-6 inches down. That is what I am doing. To post pictures you use the uploads button then follow the instruction for uploading photos then just copy and paste good luck
     
  8. darncat

    darncat Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 8, 2011
    I uploaded a photo but do not know how to post it or if it posted itself where to find it. [​IMG] I am not only new at chickens but limited on the computer.
    I will get some sand and work on that project before the chickens come. I am so glad that there is this forum for I do not know what i would do without you all !
    It is so GREATLY appreciated. [​IMG]
     
  9. darncat

    darncat Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 8, 2011
    I forgot to mention that I opted to put wire down under the dirt to prevent critters digging under and getting to my girls.
     
  10. darncat

    darncat Out Of The Brooder

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    Also I went with a galvanized caged wire rather than chicken wire since it was heavier. Like i said before I will probably be smothering my hens with too much attention. [​IMG]
     

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