question about ground material for duck/chicken run

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by yomama, Sep 18, 2010.

  1. yomama

    yomama Overrun With Chickens

    I live in the Pacific Northwest, and our falls/winters/springs can be pretty wet. I have read numerous threads about what people think are the best materials for their chicken runs, OR, their duck runs, but what if I have a duck that shares a run with chickens? I have 8 chickens, and one Pekin duck. The run is 10' x 40', plus they free range during the day. Right now, I am using straw, and we have clay soil and rock underneath. Needless to say, it doesn't drain, and the straw gets mucky. And as I'm sure all who own ducks are familiar with, my duck likes to root around in the muck, making it muckier. I was thinking pea gravel, but thought that might be too rough on her feet (duck's, not chickens'). Then I thought sand, but was worried she (my duck) would keep rooting through it, possibly ingesting some. ( not to mention, make a much more horrible mess in their water than she already does.) I also thought pine shavings, but I'm thinking that would take many, many layers to be effecient, and in a 10' x 40' run, not sure that would be very economical. Any suggestions???
    Thanks!
     
  2. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

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    Sand or crushed stone and gravel is your best option. The dampness and ducks will destroy anything else.
     
  3. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    Can you build a drainage channel? Hay and pine shaving will only keep the moisture trapped underneath.
     
  4. Broodica

    Broodica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for asking this question...we are in the same situation. Going to have ducks/chickens sharing the same run and haven't been sure what to put in there. Thought grass at first, but then was told it would be dead and gone in no time, and worried about drainage and the ducks delicate feet.
     
  5. Blooming chicks

    Blooming chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Awesome thread--I was thinking of using river rock or some kind of smooth gravel. Does anyone else use rock substrate?
     
  6. MrsDuck

    MrsDuck Out Of The Brooder

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    We use pea gravel. It works well, but it's only been down for about a month so I can't speak to long-term. We only have ducks - no chickens. There are two (soon to be a third) of them in a 10x10 run... and they free-range most of the day.

    Before the pea gravel there was just mud. That was messy, but they didn't seem to mind. (Obviously we keep their house clean and dry.) It was me that minded, and I think a chicken would mind as well.

    Since you say your ground is clay, you might need to start with a base of sand. The beauty of the pea gravel is that the poo just washes down... our soil drains pretty quick, so we didn't put down sand first.
     
  7. Blooming chicks

    Blooming chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    MrsDuck, since you can just spray off the gravel--how is the smell on those hot days? Do you sprinkle some lyme down occasionally before spraying? My ducks free range all day, but are closed in a 20'x6' covered run at night and I just worry after a while it will start to smell.
     
  8. Broodica

    Broodica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Pea gravel or pea gravel and sand (?) seems to be the most common answer I am seeing here and elsewhere. What size pea gravel? I'm worried that if it's too small they will eat it? Would they eat the sand? And my guess it has to be the smoothed/tumbled kind. No sharp edges.
     
  9. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Around their swim pans, we have half inch smooth pea gravel. That is over a firmly packed silt loam soil. Also there (put in before the pen), I have the beginnings of a small channel that leads the water, when I dump it, to the grape arbor.

    I have coated chain link fence under their day pen to keep predators from digging under. Over the channel that is under the pen, I have also placed one inch plastic poultry fence. It is fairly sturdy and keeps their feet from going through the chain link.

    Outside the splashy area, I use sawdust. It helps, during wet seasons, to use the long handled fork (looks like a giant back scratcher) to loosen up the sawdust. That prevents strong unpleasant odors. So does adding fresh sawdust. When I first set it up, I had sawdust too close to the swim pans, and we ended up with a little aroma. So that two-foot wide section of sawdust is being removed, and replaced with the smooth pea gravel.

    The whole day pen slopes a couple of percent, so water runs off fairly soon after a rain.

    The veranda, their secure night pen, is half inch hardware cloth under sand under sawdust. That stays the wettest, because that is where their nighttime water is. It is a small area, 4'x8'. Management for that space is to stir up the sawdust regularly to help it get some air (anaerobic processes tend to smell worse than aerobic processes, and with the duck poo there is a constant composting going on). But every few weeks, I just scoop up the sawdust layer (really only about 2'x5' of the veranda) and sprinkle another thin layer of sawdust on top of the sand. I found that sand-only developed an aroma. Makes sense - heavy nitrogen, not much carbon in a semi-anaerobic situation will do that. The used sawdust goes into the compost or onto garden edges.

    Anyway, sand alone developed an odor, but sawdust on top of sand works out nicely. I don't need to scoop out the sand. I end up accidentally doing so a little bit, so from time to time I put another 50 pounds of play sand in there (after removing the sawdust layer).
     
  10. yomama

    yomama Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:I'm pretty concerned about that too. With the sand and/or peagravel, do I need to worry about my duck eating it? How thick of a layer of pea gravel? I'm also wondering about applying lime. I have read that it helps absorbs moisture(?) Does anyone use that often? Does the gravel get hot in the summer sun?Sorry about all the questions, just want to cover all my bases before investing in that much gravel. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2010

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