Run and mud

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by mi2bugz, Dec 21, 2013.

  1. mi2bugz

    mi2bugz Chillin' With My Peeps

    277
    6
    81
    Sep 8, 2013
    Waxahachie, tx
    We have only been in our new house for 6 months and thought we got the run on a little incline so all the rain water would divert away from the run. Unfortunately one good rain and its all mud. We have an 8x8 run for 4 chickens. Any ideas how to make the run more enjoyable and less muddy? We have a roof that runs the rain into the lower part of the yard. One side is the coop and we have a tarp we put up on the side that gets the most rain whenever we know rain is coming. We are in texas so with the dry ground it takes a bit for the water to actually soak in. And ideas or pictures would be a great help. Thank you!
     
  2. chickenants

    chickenants New Egg

    1
    0
    6
    Dec 16, 2013
    The same happened to me, I sprinkled ashes on the muddy part of the run and the ashes absorbed the wet and left it dry.
    Obviously make sure the ashes are not hot.
     
  3. steelchair

    steelchair Out Of The Brooder

    95
    12
    43
    May 2, 2012
    Bad Axe
    I used pine shavings. I'm in Michigan and it is wet more often than not. I am pleased with the results. It also gives the chickens something to scratch around in.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2013
  4. mi2bugz

    mi2bugz Chillin' With My Peeps

    277
    6
    81
    Sep 8, 2013
    Waxahachie, tx
    Thank you so much! As I don't have access to ashes...yet ;) I will probably go with the pine shavings for now. For maintenance.....do they need to be scooped out on a regular basis or do you just put them down when it's muddy and remove them when it dries up?
     
  5. cravenchx

    cravenchx Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,869
    12
    143
    Aug 7, 2011
    Piedmont of NC
    I would be careful with ashes, hot or not. Respitory problems could become an issue. Pine shavings, mulched leaves or straw work well for me.
     
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    5,999
    787
    326
    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Chickens will scratch up any run revealing the underlying soil. For me it's a sandy silt as I live right on the Connecticut River and that drains fairly well. It still gets a bit mucky due to the silt though. What others do is remove a few inches (3-4 would be good) of the top soil and fill with sand. Nothing drains water like good ole sand. It's what I plan to do with extra sand this spring once I build a large sand box for the kids. It's a bit of work and upfront cost but will solve the problem and provides one big dust bath area!

    Trucking charges are what hurt when it comes to getting soil, the actual soil is 10-$15 per cubic yard. That's where having friends with a truck come in handy. 8x8 run with 4" of sand (0.33 ft) is 8x8x.333 cubic ft = 21.3 cft which is less than 1 cubic yard (27 cubic ft).
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
  7. c2chicks

    c2chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    I used 4-6" of sand but did NOT dig out any dirt. Use 2x4s to make an "edge" if you need to, then put the sand down right on top of the dirt. Sand is great! I'm here in NE Ohio, it's been raining for 3 days now. The run doesn't even have puddles--If you dig out the dirt, you're going to somewhat defeat the purpose of creating good drainage. The front part of the run is all sand. The back corner is pine straw, grass clippings and leaves.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,143
    3,357
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    This is a pretty good article that might prove helpful.

    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 aspects to this. First, keep as much water out as you can. It sounds like you’ve already done a lot of this, but in a good rain water seems to find it way in no matter what you do. Do you think putting a berm or swale on the upper side would help divert rainwater runoff?

    The other thing is to get water out when it finds its way in. Again, you’ve set yourself up for a bit of success in that since it’s on a slope. At least it’s not in a low spot where water cannot drain. But some soils (especially clay) hold moisture and the chickens will dig holes for their dust baths that holds water, even on a slope. Egghead is right, sand is a great soil for draining but clay is awful.

    There are a few problems with sand though. It disappears over time. It will sink down into the mud over time due to gravity. It’s denser than clay so the grains will sink when it’s mixed, like when the chickens scratch. You can help yourself there by putting a layer of gravel down first to for a bed and keep the sand from mixing as much. I suggest pea gravel or something round like that, maybe gravel from a riverbed or streambed. Sharp gravel might cut their feet when they’re scratching. It doesn’t happen all the time but I consider rounded gravel a reasonable precaution.

    The other problem with sand disappearing is that it can wash out in a heavy rain or the chickens will scratch it out of the run. They do like to scratch. What I suggest there is to put a barrier a few inches high around the bottom of you run to hold the sand in, especially on the downslope side. If I were buying something I’d probably get landscaping cloth, but if you have something else you want to use either because it’s free or because it looks better, that’s up to you. Someone on here recently had a bunch of free bricks laying around that were priced right. Just make sure it can drain. Then build the sand up in the run so it is higher than the surrounding soil so the water has some place to go. You don’t want to dig out a bathtub in your clay that holds water and just put a bit of sand in it. That water won’t go anywhere.

    Good luck with it. It sounds like you are in a situation where you can successfully manage this on a slope like that.
     
  9. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    5,999
    787
    326
    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    A lot of good info being posted.

    To clarify why I would dig some: Top soil, loam, is mud when wet. Why would anyone want to keep the top layer of loam, organic silt, in an area that is problematically muddy?
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,143
    3,357
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I had another thought. To help your drainage you might consider a French drain. Dig a trench from your run to a lower spot and fill it with gravel or maybe a slotted drain pipe surrounded by gravel. There are different ways to use the concept. Just don’t create a path for a predator to get into the run.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by