Question about keeping the run clean?


9 Years
Jan 16, 2011
Sperrassoville, OK
We have our coop and run all finished and the chickies are having a great time in their new home, but I have a question about how everyone keeps their run clean? Our run and coop area are 18' x 30' and right now the run has a lot of grass, the coop has sand so it is easy to clean which it is but the run is a mess. I there anything I can maybe spread around to keep the odor down and maybe help keep the run clean? I know that sooner or later the grass will be a goner but for now I want to try to keep the run as nice as possible.

Any ideas? Thanks!
I used free wood chips/mulch to keep it dry. The center of the run must be higher so the water can run off. Otherwise, your chickens will get coccidiosis when wet.
I used a combination of pea gravel and drains really well, and SUPER easy to clean(just like you did in the coop). if wet, just run a rake through it to help speed the drying process, and use kitty scooper to get rid of the chicken poop clumps
My main coop/run still has dirt/grass in it (my bantam coop run is sand). Now my girls free range quite a bit, but when I first got chickens they were contained in the run a lot more. I would just go through with a rake (narrowly spaced, loose tines). That would collect most of the poop. If you mow in there, do that first; it's a lot easier to rake when the grass is short. Sprinkling DE around (use a container with holes, like using talcum powder) will help dry out (and thereby probably reducing smell) the poo that's not raked up.
Sand is def. easier to clean, but you have a pretty large area to cover in sand. My main run is about the same size...If I had to contain my birds, I'd still make the investment in going with sand (sand by the truckload is pretty cheap) now that I know how easy sand is to manage...
That is a nice sized run, but you have a lot of chickens. I can see where you might have to manage the poop a bit. That is one benefit of giving them a lot of extra room. The more room they have the less you have to manage the poop.

The best way to keep a run from smelling is to keep the run dry. Usually a dry run won't smell unless the poop gets fairly thick. I'm not sure where you are in Oklahoma, but you've probably been getting a fair amount of rain lately. Let me give you a link to Pat's Muddy Run page. It may help you, but I think your problem will be less this summer when we will be wanting rain.

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

goes into a lot more detail, but the main thing is to try to keep water from going in the run to start with. When the weather sets in wet, you are not going to be able to keep it dry so you might have a problem then no matter what you do.

I personally do not like the idea of putting anything in there to stay that will rot, like straw, wood chips, wood shavings, anything like that. When it rots, it holds moisture. That is one thing that makes compost such a good addition to your garden. When it rots then gets wet, it can make a black somewhat sticky mess they can track in to the nest boxes. Also, if it is wet, it can mold which is dangerous to your chickens. Putting bedding in the run for a temporary fix can work out well, but I personally would remove it before it molds or rots. I do that myself, by the way. I put a bale of wheat straw in the run and let the chickens tear it apart and get the last of the seeds out of it, then use that wheat straw as mulch in my garden.

I'm a firm believer is sand. It drains well, is easy to rake, they love dust bathing in it, they can use it for grit, it does not stick to them and their feet like regular mud. It is just good stuff. Depending on what your run looks like, you might need to put something around the base to contain it so it does not wash away in the rain.

Good luck!

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