Road Base In Run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by skunknchatter, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. skunknchatter

    skunknchatter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2007
    Northern Utah
    My run is currently dirt. Which is fine in the summer. But in the spring it is a muddy mucky mess when the snow thaws. Not to mention it smells like a chicken coop when muddy as well. I was thinking of putting road base in to cut down on the mud. It's a sandy base with large gravel in it. It packs down fairly tight but still drains really well. We used it in our dog kennel and it's worked great. Has anyone used anything similar in their run?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Northwest Arkansas
    Have you read this? It’s pretty good.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-fix-a-muddy-run

    There are two basic concepts on keeping runs dry. I don’t know what yours looks like so I don’t know what is possible or best for yours. First, try to keep water out to start with. With a decent sized run that can be a real challenge when it sets in wet or during the spring thaw for some of us. Slope cop or run roofs or use gutters and downspouts so water flows away from the run instead of in it, maybe cover the run, or use swales and berms to keep rainwater from flowing in the run. Rain will blow in from the side so maybe a cover on the weather side of a run. Some people use a tarp for that.

    The other concept is what you are thinking of, once water gets in, drain it. It has to be high enough for the water to go somewhere, so maybe fill it with a material that drains well to a height that the water has someplace to drain to. Sand drains well but clay is horrible when it comes to draining. Some version of a French drain can help get water away in clay.

    There are a couple of problems with pure sand though. Chickens scratch a lot. They will scratch the sand out of the run and into the neighboring area. It will wash out too in a heavy rain. If you fill it with sand you probably want to put some type of barrier around the bottom of the run to contain the sand.

    The bigger problem is that the sand will work its way down into the mud underneath and disappear over time. That’s gravity at work. The sand is denser than clay so it will sink. The chickens scratching makes it worse. A way to really slow the sand from sinking is to put a later of gravel down first then put several inches of sand on top of that. It will still disappear over time but a layer of gravel under the sand really makes a big difference. If it has some place to drain to, sand works really well. But don’t make a swimming pool. Don’t just dig out the clay and fill it with sand. It has to be high enough for the water to have some place to drain to.

    A lot of runs can be a challenge in the spring especially. Hopefully you can get an idea from this or Pat’s article that can help you.
     
  3. skunknchatter

    skunknchatter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2007
    Northern Utah
    Thanks for the link and info. I'd love to cover my run but with the snow load we get around here it makes that a bit tricky. We have a "pot rock" shelf under the ground in our area so when the ground finally thaws out the water drains in about 48 hours. Until then it's a mucky mess. But at least our mud season doesn't last months.

    I get what you are saying about the sand being scratched out. Blown out as well around here. That's why I was thinking maybe the road base. It's got the gravel in it and it does pack down unlike sand alone. A layer of gravel underneath is an idea worth looking at though. Increase drainage and, like you said, keep the base from being eaten by the mud.

    Hopefully I'll get it figured out before snow hits. I feel bad for them in the spring when they are ankle deep in muck.
     

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