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???