Run floor question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by 38farmgirl, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. 38farmgirl

    38farmgirl Out Of The Brooder

    May 31, 2010
    I am building a new coop and run for my chickens. What is the best thing to put on the floor of the run?
    I have tried sand and it seems to be mucky and very stinky!!!
    I have heard that wood chip are good. Any suggestions?
  2. Achickenwrangler#1

    Achickenwrangler#1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 7, 2011
    west virginia
    You can use practically anything in a run, wood chips are fine because they can decompose naturally and the chickens will scratch around them and find bugs. You can use chopped straw, dry leaves, just think natural stuff.sand isn't so natural in my opinion. Good luck
  3. ernndbrtt

    ernndbrtt Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 4, 2011
    We've put straw down on our run and that did help somewhat, but here the weather has turned cold and mud isn't really an issue anymore as the ground is starting to freeze on top.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2012
  4. Jakoda

    Jakoda Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2012
    Old Lyme CT
    I have used sand, but I also throw out a bale of lucerne ground cover (feed hay), I also have 1/2 of my run covered so I think that cuts down on any wetness or mud which I don't really have
  5. CB Poulet

    CB Poulet New Egg

    Nov 27, 2012
    Berkeley, CA
    Has anyone used bark mulch, like playground bark, or similar?
  6. wekiva bird

    wekiva bird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 18, 2010
    South Carolina
    If you use sand in the runs you must have a roof to keep it dry. It can get messy and stinky if it gets wet.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    It depends on where your run is located. If it is in a low spot where water runs in and stays, it's going to be wet no matter what you do when it rains. If it is positioned where it can drain, you have a lot better chance of it staying drier. It helps to keep the water out in the first place if you can. That’s not always possible, especially if you have a large run. Here is an article on fixing a muddy run that has some good information.

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

    If it can drain, sand is a great material to use. Water drains out of sand really really well. The thing is that the water needs some place to drain to. If you built the run in the bottom of a bowl, the water has no place to go. Chickens love scratching and dust bathing in sand. They can use sand as grit, the coarser the better. I suggest using a coarser sand like construction sand and not the really fine sand like play sand. It drains better, is better for grit, and does not stick to your clothes as bad.

    A couple of possible disadvantages to sand. If your run is set up where a stream of water runs across it when you get a rain, it can wash away. You may need to build a barrier at the lower side of the run to contain the sand, or, even better, build a berm or swale on the upper side to keep the water out. But remember to still give it some places to drain.

    The other possible disadvantage to sand is that, depending in the type of soil you have, it can work its way into the mud underneath over time. You may need to replace it. How often depends on your specific conditions, obviously. One way to help with this is to put a layer of gravel under it. I suggest smooth gravel so there is less chance of them cutting their feet when scratching.

    Even if your run is not in the perfect spot, you might be able to build a barrier around the bottom of your run to contain the sand and build the sand up fairly deep so it can drain.

    We have all kinds of different runs in different climates in different conditions and in different sizes with different amounts of chickens using them for different lengths of time each day. Some people regularly clean out their runs. I never do. Different things work for different people. I built my 12’ x 32’ run on a slight rise then built a swale on the upper side so the rainwater is diverted away from it. Part if it is covered with roofing from a shed roof that blew off in a storm but part is open. I mostly don’t use anything in it. The run bottom is clay soil. I did dump a couple of bags of pea gravel in the area where the run gate and the coop door are to help when it stays rainy for a few days. I know many people use all kinds of things, but I tend to stay away from organic things like straw, hay, wood shavings, or wood chips. I use that type of things for mulch in the garden. One purpose of mulch is to hold the moisture in. I want the moisture to drain out or evaporate in my run. I know others use this type of stuff and are very happy with it, but their management techniques and runs and conditions are almost certainly different from mine.

    One exception to that is that I sometimes throw a bale or wheat straw in there with the baling wire removed. The chickens will have that all scratched apart in a couple of days, will eat a lot of the remaining wheat seeds in it and pretty much thresh the rest out with their scratching. Then I use that wheat straw as mulch in the garden. As long as it doesn’t set in wet and rainy for a period of time, it drains and dries pretty well. But I only do one bale at a time so it’s not very thick in there.

    I don’t know anything about your run location or conditions, but if your sandy run is staying wet and yucky, I suspect it is not positioned where it can drain very well. Your problem may not be what material to use in the run but how to keep water out to start with. Any material is likely to be unsatisfactory. I suggest you read Pat’s article.

    Hopefully you can get something beneficial out of this. Good luck!
  8. The Lazy L

    The Lazy L Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2011
    I must have used a different type of sand. 2/3rds of my run is not covered and it is not messy or stinky when it rains.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
  9. Achickenwrangler#1

    Achickenwrangler#1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 7, 2011
    west virginia
    That does make alot of run is on a slope, in the fall I heap straw, hay, chips, whatever, in a pile. In the spring the broody hen and chics have plenty of exercise scratching it down to the great composted soil and bugs underneath....but, I only use the run for broodies for a few weeks. Once the bugs are gone they are asking to go exploring with the chicks, and they free range after that. The run is about 500 sq feet , no roof.
  10. DallasCriftins

    DallasCriftins Chillin' With My Peeps

    Use a barrier on the soil such as black landscaping fabric this is water permeable but will control mud and weed growth

    this sort of stuff:

    Then on top try a 50MM layer of this

    It survives all weathers, Will never rot can be hosed clean will stay dry and springy and they love to scratch about in it
    I use it for the pen my Ducks over night in to avoid the mud!

    In fact by the time they exit the main pond an waddle through the rubber to their shed their feet are relatively clean as well

    If it gets really yukky after a year or two, you can take the whole lot up wash it ( I have used a cement mixer as it worked in a similar way to a domestic washing machine ) and a hose then clean or replace the fabric and it it good as new

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