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  1. DownwardDog

    DownwardDog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Seacoast New Hampshire
    So, I've been reading the Sweet PDZ thread for the past two days! I've come up with a question regarding runs.

    I plan on getting about 12 layer hens and building a roughly 8x8 or larger coop with outside nesting boxes underneath the poop drawer. While our girls will free range most every day, I am building a run for when we are away and our neighbors let them out. Is there a general rule for the size of a run? It will be built in a wooded area with a slight slope.

    I assume that after a little while of use, they will eventually dig up all the scrub brush,etc., but it should be a long while since they won't be kept in the run much once they're old enough (how old?). I keep seeing people's posts about having sand in their runs, or straw, and I'm wondering why? What's wrong with just dirt and whatever vegetation grows? We might include our compost bin inside the run so the girls can keep it mixed up. Anyway, just wondering why the need for sand, etc. Am I missing something???
     
  2. TheReadyBoys

    TheReadyBoys Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When it rains, the earth will turn to mud. If the chickens go out in the mud, they will get large chunks of mud stuck to them. You don't want your hens taking mud into the hen house, so sand is applied. The sand takes any water and absorbs it. Plus the chickens stay clean, happy and healthy. Another good thing about sand is you can clean it easily. I don't have sand in my run, but I put chicken wire under the run so nothing digs under the coop.
     
  3. DownwardDog

    DownwardDog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Got it! Thanks! So, if you don't have sand, how do yours stay clean?
     
  4. TheReadyBoys

    TheReadyBoys Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just scrape the run with a shovel. I don't actually dig it up, because of the wire on the bottom.
     
  5. ernndbrtt

    ernndbrtt Out Of The Brooder

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    We have a 20 x 40 dirt run for our chickens and we just spread out a bag or two of wood shavings all over the run when it's wet. It seems to work very well, it soaks up the water and the chickens aren't getting muddy feet. We just rake it all up and put it in the compost pile when it gets too poopy[​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Time-Out

    Time-Out Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 29, 2011
    The Peak District, UK
    If your run is big enough, you won't need to worry about any of that. Chickens will quickly turn the hardiest of grasses to dirt if kept too 'intensively'. Yours will be free-ranging most of the time, you say, so if you went with 25sqft per bird, you should be fine. I have 22sqft of run space and the grass really suffers in winter because it's not growing back. In Summer, it does fine.

    Your birds will love the woodland aspect of it. Mine really love digging through leaves and under shrubs. The grass is only good for eating!
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Remember that many of the people on this forum live in suburbia where smell control is very important, space is tight, and the chickens generally cannot free range during the day. Their coops and runs tend to be pretty small and require intense management techniques. These people tend to do a lot of cleaning.

    We keep chickens in tremendously different conditions. You need to read the suggestions and determine if those suggestions really apply to your set-up and management techniques. A lot of people in suburbia can’t use techniques you or I can and we don’t have to use some of the intense techniques some of them do.

    It sounds like you have a very good plan and a lot of room. It’s quite possible you won’t have wet run problems, though if the weather sets in wet it gets real hard to keep a run dry. I do suggest you take precautions to keep your run as dry as possible. Mainly that involves positioning it where it is not in a low spot or where rainwater runoff goes in the run, maybe install a swale or berm to divert rainwater runoff, and build the slope on your coop roof so it takes water away from your run, not into it. Put your run where water that gets in has some place to drain.

    Sand is a great material in the run because it drains really well, but I just have dirt in mine. Mine is big and it is positioned where a lot of water does not get in to start with. It’s on a slight rise so it will drain, but if it sets in wet, mine still gets a little sloppy. The chickens dig holes for dust bathing that become mud puddles when it rains.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. aldarita

    aldarita Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a 40 x12 run that is in a sloped area. I was having a lot of trouble keeping the grass clipping and wood shaving mix I use on the ground equally distributed along the run because my hens with their scratching and the slop will bring most of the material down to the end. I got a tip in BYC where a member puts beams in her slopped area so the material will stay put. It has worked very well for me, now my run is sort of divided by sections and all I have to do is rake each section to turn the poop. I will take some pics this afternoon and post them for you to see them. I don't know how much of a slop you have but the 2 x 6s I put in there saved me a lot of work.
    BTW my run was built in a beautiful pastured area with lots of grass which did not last long after my girls moved in, they kill everything that attempts to grow in there, besides my run in covered so it gets some sun during the day but not much. You really need to have some "bedding" in your run to mix the poop with it, this way you just change it about twice a year. Your chickens will scratch and scratch making holes everywhere.
     
  9. RonC

    RonC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As a minimum figure 10 sq ft per bird in the run. That size they will defoliate it pretty quickly. The larger the area the better. My six get to roam the whole backyard(apprx 4000 sq ft) for a about an hour or two a day and during the summer it's not much of an issue. This is their first winter and starting to wonder what the backyard is going to look like by spring.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013
  10. DownwardDog

    DownwardDog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Seacoast New Hampshire
    Thanks, everyone! Aldarita, that's a great idea! I don't have much of a slope, but it's enough to keep the rain running downhill away from their coop and out of their run. The coop and run will have the longest parts facing roughly north/south so that winter sun helps keep the coop more comfy and the run drier. We will cover as much of the run as possible with solid roofing but a large part of it will not be because of heavy snow. We are still thinking about how to handle snow/ice!
     

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