Questions about sand in run?


Jan 28, 2011
Easternshore of Maryland
We are thinking of using sand in our run. First what do you put under the sand? I know you frame up the bottom so the sand doesn't wash out, but do you put anything under the sand so it doesn't get mucky? Do/can you put gravel under so it drains? Just want to make it nice and dry for my chickies!!
How's the drainage in the area you're considering for your run? If water pools there when it rains and it gets boggy, that's not the best place for the run. Try to pick higher ground.

If you put down a good thick base of sand (say, 6 inches), that should work without putting gravel underneath. I've read about people putting gravel under sand and what has happened is that the chickens scratch down through the sand into the gravel, mixing it with the sand, and thus making the kitty litter poop scoop method inoperable. Of course, with a six inch thick layer of sand, this probably is less of a problem. Chickens sure do like to dig, though.

I did not put anything under the sand in our runs, and I only put about 2 or 3 inches of sand in. But there's pretty good drainage where these runs are, and the runs themselves are roofed. Sometimes the sand gets wet at the edges of the runs, but no mud has come up through the sand. We have heavy clay soils, though.
I have sand in part of my run. I dug out the existing topsoil first....down about 8 inches. Then I filled the dug out area with sand. If you don't dig out the good soil it will mix with the sand over time and end up all muddy. The sand does get waterlogged when we have a heavy rain, but after a day it is all dry again.
We have several 10 foot runs outside off the 10 foot runs inside. We framed with 2x4 and put 4 inches of crushed rock and then 4 inches of sand. I LOVE IT! Easy to clean and the birds love it. No mud or standing water and when it rains hard I dont have to clean the peen because the rain does it for me.
Does everyone use the kitty litter scooping method to clean the sand or does the poop just mix in with the sand? - scooping poop does not sound like fun (probably #1 reason why I dont like cats).
Thanks everyone for your advice! We have found a nice higher ground spot, in the backyard under our giant maple tree. We are going with the sand run, it sounds like it is much easier to take care of, and with the scooping of sand, it sounds like I'll have a little chickie zen garden
I think they will really enjoy the sand since they are already trying to take dust baths in the shavings in the brooder
What about installing some weed fabric between the topsoil and the sand so that it will contain the sand in the run and not mix with the topsoil do you think that would work?

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