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Pebbles in the run...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by BeachyChicken, Oct 19, 2015.

  1. BeachyChicken

    BeachyChicken Out Of The Brooder

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    I am putting the finishing touches on my first ever chicken coop! I can't wait for my ladies to arrive but I worry about the maintenance of my coop/run. This summer we had lots of rain here in south west florida and the run occasionally flooded about a quarter of an inch. I have added about an inch of old driveway pebbles to the run and my question is what if anything should I add on top of that? Sand? Straw? Soil? ?? [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Leave the pebbles? I'll have around 5-7 birds and I'm planning on using shavings in the coop area...does this sound good? Any and all advice is greatly appreciated!!
     
  2. Cacique500

    Cacique500 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We had a similar problem with ground water (after heavy rain) leaching into the run. The best solution is to run some type of french drain around it to channel the water down and away from the run. Our soil here is 50% clay and 50% granite boulders (at least it seems like it :) so digging is EXTREMELY difficult. I wound up putting down treated 6x6's around the base of the run and am in the process of raising the dirt/grass around the 6x6's to try and channel the water down and away. It's working, but if we have a week or so of constant rain, which happened a lot this year, I still get some seepage into the run (maybe 5 to 10% gets wet)

    You have a great covered roof, so you may also want to look at gutters to get the water away from the edges of the run.

    Our run is on about a 15 degree slope going towards the back of the property so I put down a base layer of pea gravel (two truck loads) to try and raise/level the area, then have about 2000 pounds of pdz on top of it in our 10x20 run. Excellent in theory, but what I'm finding (and should've realized this before) is that the pdz is slowly working it's way through the gravel, so the gravel is now sitting on top, defeating what I'm trying to do with the pdz. When I scoop/sift the poop in the run now I get a LOT of gravel on the sifter with poop in it...so it all goes in a bucket and out to the trash. I figure in about 15 years I will have scooped all the gravel out and all will be good :)

    In your case, there will be a mixing of pebbles and shavings at some point, especially when the girls start digging/scratching out a dust bath. Not sure if that will be good or bad in your situation but something to consider.

    I got one of these http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001HL3ZAI?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00 to quickly fill holes and level the gravel/pdz in the run...it's worked great so far. With pebbles you may need to get one as well.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I can’t tell how big that area is but for 5 to 7 chickens it looks really nice. The extra room will help you. The more room they have to poop in the more the poop is spread out. If you have chickens squeezed into a minimum space the poop can build up to the point you have to remove it. Hopefully you can avoid that problem but time will tell. There will still be some poop in there, it just should not be so thick that it won’t dry out if given a chance.

    The potential problem is water as you mentioned. When chicken poop gets wet it usually stinks due to the bugs that eat it and turn it into compost going anaerobic. If the poop stays slightly damp but dry enough so they can get oxygen to breathe you normally get a fairly fresh sweet smell, not bad at all, a lot like fresh dirt. But if the water keeps the air away then anaerobic bacteria take over and create a smelly slimy mess. It’s a potential problem with compost piles too.

    When the weather turns wet and stays wet a while it’s really hard to keep a large run dry. Your roof will help a lot, especially if the runoff goes away from the run like Cacique suggested, but rain will also blow in from the side. If you have a prevalent wind direction you might want to consider some type of barrier on that side to keep the rain from blowing in. That’s a two edged sword though because if the run gets wet you want great ventilation to dry it out.

    If it is in a low spot, you can get groundwater runoff settling in there. If you have an uphill side you might try a berm or swale to keep rainwater from running in. I picture southwest Florida as flat and sandy but I’ve been wrong before.

    Water will run downhill. If the water that does get in the run has a place to drain to, it will drain. What you want to avoid is a bathtub effect where you have a hole filled with sand or pebbles that drain really well but is in a depression lined with impervious clay so the water can’t drain. If you have a lower spot to drain it to Cacique’s suggestion of a French drain is another good idea. If it is sandy underneath it could drain really well without you doing anything.

    Eventually and sand or pebbles placed on top of clay will sink in and disappear. That’s due to the relative densities of the material. The chickens scratching speeds that process up. It may happen relatively quickly or may take years. If you put clay in there to raise it above the surrounding area so water has a place to drain to the chickens will scratch holes in it for taking dust baths. Those holes can hold water if they get wet. That’s a potential problem if you fill it with soil. To me there are no real clear-cut answers. Everything has a trade-off.

    Other than thinking about ways to keep water out or maybe a French drain I don’t think I’d do anything yet, wait to see if you have a problem. That’s a nice set-up. Hopefully it will work out for you.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    [​IMG] Seriously?!?!? Where did you get that much PDZ?


    [​IMG] 15 years....lol....sorry.
     
  5. Cacique500

    Cacique500 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Atlanta, Georgia
    [​IMG]

    Ordered a pallet from tractor supply [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2015
  6. BeachyChicken

    BeachyChicken Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 4, 2015
    South West Florida
    Thanks everybody for your input! The lot is flat as can be...I'm even considering removing the pebbles, removing a couple of inches of soil, fill with pebbles and cover with dirt again...that way it will be up a bit but with dirt that I could layer with shavings or straw for the ladies...and I could scrape it out to use in the garden without a bunch of pebbles...also the coop has a gutter on one side so all I'd have to do is add one, that's an easy fix that may help a bit...we had so much rain this summer, the whole acre behind the house had an inch of water for a week or so...in case that happens the chickens will have to stay in the coop area which is about 8x5...the run is approximately 11x8...
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Just about anything put over pebbles will migrate down into the pebbles eventually...the chooks will help that process by digging and scratching.

    Deep layer(8-12") of a mix (different sizes, shapes and materials) of organic material might be your best bet.
     

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