Opinions on Muddy Run Fix


8 Years
May 2, 2011
Southwestern PA, Flock since 5/2011
Every spring and winter our run gets very muddy and stinky!

We have had a lot of rain this summer and our run is nasty! We have several chickens with feathers on their feet.... or rather did. The mud and muck has made the feathers fall out or the chickens pull them out. My husband has easy access to gravel and also concrete block. We are torn to which direction to go with the run. Initially, we were going to lay about an inch of gravel and then a layer of concrete block. On the block we were going to use straw as bedding, clean it out as needed and hose down the block. Other thought was several inches of gravel that we can hose down if needed and not use block at all.

The concern I had was the gravel being too rough on their feet. I don't want a bunch of chickens with bumble foot.

Disgusting, nasty, stinky, wet, straw muck

Slimy mud

Layer of gravel

Concrete block

Concrete block and the trench outside of the run FULL of water because of Tstorms all week

Thank you!!


7 Years
Mar 21, 2012
Boise, ID
I would use a mix of gravel and traction-type all-purpose sand if you can get that. the gravel will make for great drainage and the sand will be softer on their feet. I use sand in my run and it works awesome.


7 Years
May 14, 2012
outlaw chicken keeper; NE Ohio
x1 with above, sand provides excellent drainage. 4" or so give great drainage and is enough for them to dig their own poop under (if you choose not to scoop it). Any method that requires you to hose it to keep it clean, is going to smell. Wet=smell.


Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
Here’s a great article on fixing muddy runs. I strongly suggest you read it.

Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):

Each of us have our own unique situations. What works for one person does not necessarily work for others. Maybe you can pick out something from Pat’s article or what I’ll write that can help you. I know it’s too late for you, but the best time to fix these problems is before you build the run, especially picking a good location that drains.

You have two basic issues with muddy runs. One is to keep the water out to start with. When it sets in wet that’s going to be real hard with a run of any size, but there are things you can maybe do to help. If you have it positioned in a low spot where rainwater runs to and collects, you have a serious problem. Relocation or serious landscaping involving lots of fill may be the only solutions.

Can you build berms or swales to keep rainwater runoff out? Divert it around the run, not into it.

A cover over it may help, may help a lot, but rain will still blow in from the side. If you have a predominant direction the rain blows in from, you might need to rainproof that side too for much relief.

Slope your coop and run roof so rainwater runoff does not fall into the run or use gutters and downspouts to direct water away from the run.

The other issue is that it needs to be able to drain. If it is in a low spot, where is the water going to go? So you need the run higher than at least one area so the water has a place to go. What you can do depends a lot on the slope of the ground and where it is located.

Sand is a great fill for a run. I highly recommend it. It drains really well. They also love dust bathing in in it and they can use it for grit. But it tends to disappear over time. They scratch a lot so it gets scattered through the fence and outside the run. It works its way into the dirt and mud underneath. If it is not contained, rain can wash it away.

If you have access to sand, putting a lot on there can be a good temporary fix. I recommend coarse sand by the way, not the sugar sand or plat sand. They all work but the coarse sand seems to last longer. It doesn’t stick to you and your clothing as much either so you stay cleaner. Just a minor point.

But any sand you put in now will likely disappear into the mud before too long. A better longterm fix, though you may need to wait for drier weather, is to put a layer of gravel down first. That provides a better foundation to keep the sand from working into the mud. Your comment on bumblefoot brings up a good point. Chickens will scratch down through the sand and reach the gravel. If it is sharp gravel, like crushed gravel, they can possibly scratch or cut their feet which can lead to bumblefoot. That does not happen each and every time but it is a risk. If you use round gravel like you get from a beach or riverbed, you tremendously reduce that risk.

Another issue is that rain can wash the sand away. You may need to install some type of barrier around the bottom of your fence to contain the sand, especially on the downslope side. Remember it still needs to be able to drain. Those concrete blocks may work well for that. Don’t mortar them together but just set them side by side. The crack between them may be enough drainage. Or maybe install landscaping cloth or something like that. I don’t know what would work best in your unique situation.

My coop and run are on a gently sloping hillside. I put a few inches of clay dirt in the coop to help raise that elevation to keep water from running into it. I built a swale on the upslope side to divert rainwater runoff away from them. The roof slopes so rainwater runs downhill away from it. The coop stays dry.

The run is another thing when it sets in rainy. It’s clay dirt. Most of it is covered but rain blows in from the side. They dig holes while dust bathing. It does drain so when it quits raining it dries out pretty quickly but it is a mess for a while. I put a few bags of pea gravel at the gate to the run which is right at the door to the coop so it’s not too bad where I normally walk. I just live with the rest.

Hope you get something out of all this that helps you. Good luck. These things can be a challenge.


8 Years
May 2, 2011
Southwestern PA, Flock since 5/2011
Run is almost finished, held up in the thunderstorms this week too. Drained right out!! My brahmas and favs will have drier leg feathers!!
There is about 4" of pea gravel over limestone.

Gotta sink those blocks some so they stop sliding.

B**chy the Partridge Plymouth Rock (all my rocks are not very nice to anyone else, including each other)

Roost in the run

Debating on removing the block....
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