Sand in the run, should it be compacted or left loose?

Annabellarose

In the Brooder
Aug 6, 2020
14
29
36
London, Kentucky
I am in the middle of the construction of my chicken run. I dug a "hole" in the ground the length and width of my run on a slight slope (hopefully to aid with the drainage of rain water; multiple water hose tests on the bare dirt left me pleased with my efforts) that averages between 8 and 16 inches deep and I filled it with a sand of an irregular particle size (as recommended by many different chicken resources online). Now, my question is, do I need to compact the sand? I do have a (hand) tamper (tool) or I could rent a plate tamper (though I'd rather take a hot poker in the eye; I checked this morning and it is going to be both heavy to load/unload and more expensive than I would like) or is it best just to leave the sand "loose"? Any advice from a seasoned sand chicken run builder/user would be appreciated beyond measure.
 

Flockincrazy

Songster
May 23, 2020
2,002
4,009
243
Elyria, Ohio
I am in the middle of the construction of my chicken run. I dug a "hole" in the ground the length and width of my run on a slight slope (hopefully to aid with the drainage of rain water; multiple water hose tests on the bare dirt left me pleased with my efforts) that averages between 8 and 16 inches deep and I filled it with a sand of an irregular particle size (as recommended by many different chicken resources online). Now, my question is, do I need to compact the sand? I do have a (hand) tamper (tool) or I could rent a plate tamper (though I'd rather take a hot poker in the eye; I checked this morning and it is going to be both heavy to load/unload and more expensive than I would like) or is it best just to leave the sand "loose"? Any advice from a seasoned sand chicken run builder/user would be appreciated beyond measure.
Leave it loose your flock will thank you are you putting mulch in there to
 

Annabellarose

In the Brooder
Aug 6, 2020
14
29
36
London, Kentucky
Leave it loose your flock will thank you are you putting mulch in there to
No, I am not planning to put mulch in my run. Mulch would suspend moisture and bacteria in the sand and prevent me from being able to scoop poop (which is my main reason for choosing sand). I cannot see any benefit (in my situation) to putting down any organic material inside the run.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
84,713
98,681
1,677
SW Michigan
My Coop
multiple water hose tests on the bare dirt left me pleased with my efforts
Did the water drain away quickly...or puddle at the low end?

I checked this morning and it is going to be both heavy to load/unload and more expensive than I would like)
Yeppers.
Wood chippings would be lighter, cheaper(maybe free),
and you'd never have to scoop them.

Welcome to BYC! @Annabellarose
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1596744546619.png
 

Annabellarose

In the Brooder
Aug 6, 2020
14
29
36
London, Kentucky
Did the water drain away quickly...or puddle at the low end?
I actually dug my "hole" quite a bit longer than the run on the side that is going to be the most affected by the slope (or the drainage and pooling of any water). The water did run to the low end and puddled outside of the run and drained fairly quickly for the soil quality (very poor; hard red clay). I am pleased and it is going to work for my situation.

Yeppers.
Wood chippings would be lighter, cheaper(maybe free),
and you'd never have to scoop them.
No, the sand is already in place and I think that I am going to be immensely happy with my choice! I was saying that the plate compactor was going to be both heavy to load/unload and more expensive than I would like (to rent). And, no, for me, sand was much, MUCH (my God, so much) cheaper than wood shavings, wood chips, or mulch would have been. My family owns two local lumber companies and I feel pretty familiar with all possible wood bedding choices available in or near my area as I also had horses (and had to bed stalls) for over 30 years and I had been through just about everything of wood that could be used for stall bedding.
 
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aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
84,713
98,681
1,677
SW Michigan
My Coop
I had been through just about everything of wood that could be used for stall bedding.
I doubt horses are ever bedded on the kind of wood chippings I'm talking about, which were free from the tree trimmers.


I don't mind sifting poop off the roost boards in the coop, but I never scoop up any poops in the runs.
 

blackdog043

Crowing
Feb 19, 2017
2,270
3,676
386
Charlotte, NC
@Annabellarose Is your run covered? Poop, sand and water don't make a nice environment for chickens, after a while. There are a few people here that like sand, but I believe they live in very dry environments.

I use wood chips in my run like @aart they work well, no odor and doesn't attract flies. I haven't cleaned my run out in more than 3 years, I just add more wood chips and yard/garden waste.
 

Farmgirl1878

Crowing
Mar 17, 2017
675
1,449
257
Piketon, Ohio
We live in wet, hot, and humid Southern Ohio. I have natural, coarse-grained, washed river sand in my coop, run, nestboxes, and on the poop decks. I’ve never compacted the sand, and in fact, rake it every so often just to make divets, holes, and hills for the girls to explore. They dustbathe wherever they’d like, and I scoop twice a day (just because I like to spend time with them). After two years, I’m planning to add some sand this Fall, even though I really don’t need to except along the pathway from the basement door to the coop. We are a hardwood tree farm, so I could easily use wood chips, but I much prefer the ease and cleanliness of the sand.
1D649D9F-289B-4D55-A82C-29B5A6C397AD.jpeg
 

pewpewlaserz

Hatching
Jul 20, 2020
4
1
8
I am in the middle of the construction of my chicken run. I dug a "hole" in the ground the length and width of my run on a slight slope (hopefully to aid with the drainage of rain water; multiple water hose tests on the bare dirt left me pleased with my efforts) that averages between 8 and 16 inches deep and I filled it with a sand of an irregular particle size (as recommended by many different chicken resources online). Now, my question is, do I need to compact the sand? I do have a (hand) tamper (tool) or I could rent a plate tamper (though I'd rather take a hot poker in the eye; I checked this morning and it is going to be both heavy to load/unload and more expensive than I would like) or is it best just to leave the sand "loose"? Any advice from a seasoned sand chicken run builder/user would be appreciated beyond measure.
Question: where did you get your sand? I'm looking into this as well for my run and having a heck of a time outside lugging a ton home from home depot.
 

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