Run preperation - substrate/pests?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by harbisgirl, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. harbisgirl

    harbisgirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 4, 2011
    N. Cal
    I’ve been lurking for a while, learning a lot and plotting out my master plan for my chicken coop that I will be building in the spring. I plan on building a pretty good sized outdoor run area – fully enclosed of course as we have a lot of predatory critters in our area. My question is how to keep my chickens pest free. I live in a very wooded area. As I prep for the run, what do I need to do? It’s going in an undisturbed area in the woods so there is a thick layer of leaves, decomposing underbrush, etc – do I need to rake that away and put down sand or something? Its slightly sloping so drainage shouldn’t be an issue. I can see how the layers of leaves could provide fun for the chickens to hunt through, but I’m worried about pests – namely ticks. We have a lot of ticks. Do they make Frontline Plus for Poultry? J
  2. Johnboy78

    Johnboy78 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 16, 2011
    I've got a small backyard group that range all day and go into the coop
    at night. Only local predators are hawks.
    I cleaned out a packed area of dirt for my coop and small run and
    laid down shredded straw. Mice dug under to get to the food.
    Chipmunks followed them. If you've got digger predators keep that in mind.

    When spring comes I'll lay some wire cloth, cover it with gravel,
    and then put down the straw.

    As far as ticks go, they may love them. They go for everything that twitches.
  3. claudicles

    claudicles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 26, 2011
    Sydney, Australia
    They will love the leaves. As for ticks, I don't have a problem with them but I've read people who have said the chickens will happily pick them off each other. If you want yourrun really secure you'll need robust wire walls, a roof of some sort and either to dig down and dig in a barrier or place a skirt around your running to stop digging predators. You have to protect your chooks from predators which dig, climb, fly and rip through stuff. Not easy.
  4. GoldDogsMom

    GoldDogsMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 10, 2011
    Indiana, PA
    Welcome harbisgirl! I added a second coop and run this fall and "upgraded" the run to my other smaller coop. Drainage was becoming an issue for me so I put sand down in my runs on top of hardware cloth to keep any digging predators out. The girls love it, great for dustbathing and drainage hasn't been an issue. The girls are much cleaner now that they can dustbath, the dirt and leaves that were originally in the run was a MESS! We live in the woods and haven't had any issues with bugs on the chickens (if the dogs aren't treated they get lots of ticks).
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
  5. harbisgirl

    harbisgirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 4, 2011
    N. Cal
    Claudicle - Oh good, then I won’t stress about the leaves. I didn’t think about them pecking the ticks off of each other – thank you for pointing that out. I’m going to use heavy wire for the top and walls of the outdoor run. I’ll definitely guard against digging predators. I haven’t dug in that area of the property yet so I’m not sure how rocky it is – so that will decide whether I dig down or roll out hardware cloth – but either way I’ll be sure to add some kind of protection.

    GoldDogsMom – oh, I didn’t think about the mess all those decomposing leaves would make, good point. I have been thinking about the dust bathing. I was thinking of just putting a chicky sandbox in there with a mix of sand and ash but maybe I’ll just do all sand in the run to keep it cleaner. Guess that depends on how much I can afford once I get to buy all of the materials for this project J

    Thanks for your suggests!
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Why don't I just give you a link about muddy runs. You can probably pick up something here that will help. I think Pat is readlly good in her advice. Prevention is better than curing.

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

    The main things with the runs is to try to keep the water out to start with. If it is on a slight slope you may be OK, but maybe you want to consider putting either a berm or swale above it to redirect the water. I'm not sure what yours looks like but the leaves might wash up against the fence. I don't know if that would cause a problem or not.

    I'm a big fan of sand. It really drains well. But if water is rushing over your run, it might wash the sand away. You might need to put some type of barrier along the bottom to contain the sand in there.

    I'm a big fan of aprons instead iof digging down to bury fencing around the run. Just lay it horizontal along the outside of the run and attach it to the bottom of your fencing. You really don't have to bury it, but many people do a couple of inches, basically removing the sod and putting that back on top of the apron. The idea is that a predator starts to dig, hits the fencing, and does not know enough to back up further. Sure a lot easier in rocky ground and I think it is more effective than burying a fence.

    Chickens don't do much for chiggers, but I think they do help reduce the tick population if the chickens are allowed to free range. Guinneas are supposed to be really good for ticks too.
  7. Tallulah Chicklet

    Tallulah Chicklet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 9, 2011
    New Haven, CT
    It sounds like you already have a great substrate. (I bring leaves into my run!) Perfect for healthy chickens with good drainage. Chickens eat ticks, especially guinea hens. If a tick landed on a chicken, I doubt it would be there for long! I think there are some BYC threads that discuss it more fully. Diatomaceous earth (DE) and dust baths can help your chickens remain pest-free...people use sand with wood ashes and/or DE, but often the chickens make their own spot.

    Welcome, welcome, this is a wonderful place to learn! I can't begin to tell you how much I have learned here!
  8. harbisgirl

    harbisgirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 4, 2011
    N. Cal
    Thanks for the link, RidgeRunner. I read the article, very good info. Since i'm not building the run til spring, i'll watch to see how the area handles rain this winter, if winter decides to show up this year, that is.

    Tallulah - Good idea with the DE. I'm going to try the DL method inside the coop I think, so I'll have DE on hand :) And thank you for the warm welcome - I've learned a TON and I can't wait to get started!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by